Paragraph Shrink Activity

Some of my students asked if we could do some reading exercises that weren’t Embedded Reading.  I wholly stand behind the Embedded Reading method and its results; however, I thought I should humor my kiddos for a couple of different reasons:

  • The first reason is that I wanted to do an activity that might be similar to one left if there’s a sub (I was inspired by Crystal Barragan’s Chica Ideal Sub Plan posted on scribd).  If I do the activity now, there will be less problems for a sub because students will know what I’m expecting.
  • The second reason is that I figured students would appreciate the Embedded Reading more if they experienced some of the alternatives.
  • The third reason is that I wasn’t feeling as creative last night and I didn’t have to create as much on my own with this activity, as I used the text from ¡Cuéntame más! to create the activity.
  • The fourth reason is that my school requests teachers to use specific reading activities to improve our test scores in all classes regardless of subject.  This activity was one of those activities.

The reading activity I used today was the Paragraph Shrink.  The main idea is that students read the story and then summarize it, keeping only the important details.  What I loved about this strategy is it also helped my younger students understand what is happening (more or less) in the stories we tell in class: there is a character, the character has a problem, the character tries to fix it, the character fails, the character tries again and succeeds.

Here is the document I used in Spanish 1:

At the beginning you see students translated 5 sentences into English.  This is really the first written translation that my students have done this year.  I know some are against it, but I believe it has some value still when learning a language.

For the Paragraph Shrink in the second box, I did the first paragraph with the students.  We crossed out what was unimportant and then rewrote the story in Spanish below.  Overall, most students were able to pick out the fact that the family being in California doesn’t add to the story.  The could also tell me that the family not being famous is not important neither.

I’m not sure that this activity is considered best practice in teaching foreign language, BUT I am glad I did this activity early on as it helps my students better understand the construction of our stories and it also gets them more practice writing the Spanish words.  Students seemed less grumpy about rewriting the story when I explained that this would help them write better when they have the writing quiz.

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