My colleague Megan Matthews and I have had such great success with the TPRS Publishing novels the past two school years, and we would love to be able to use more of them. Unfortunately, in our school district we are plagued by financial issues and there simply isn’t enough money for us to purchase more at this time. We have, for the past 10 years, taught a unit on Argentina that is derived from chapter 10 in the textbook (that we do not use, but we are obligated to follow the curriculum). While we have tried to incorporate some of the vocabulary from that chapter, some of the grammar (the ongoing past tense development, the introduction of the present subjunctive and the present perfect), and some of the cultural differences between Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C., we were missing the structure, the fun, and the wonderful support of a novel. Over the years I had developed activities for that chapter that I liked, that the students enjoyed, and that served a definite cultural purpose, I was missing that reading and comprehensible input component. So, what happened? I got pneumonia! And I missed a lot of school! And I was bored! So, what did I do? I started to write a novela about Argentina! I wrote the first two chapters and sent them to Megan, she wrote chapter three, I then wrote chapters four and five, she wrote chapter six, I wrote chapters seven and eight, we collaborated on nine, and I finished the book with chapters ten and eleven. What excitement!! So what I’m going to do now is share the beginning of this with you! Please keep in mind that I am no expert in the culture of Argentina, nor am I a native speaker. I began to write this novela “Amigos, Abrazos, Aventura, ARGENTINA!” to fit a definite need and purpose for my Spanish III students. The grammatical focus was specifically a continuation of the past tense, an introduction to the present subjunctive and an exposure to some present perfect. The cultural emphasis was on similarities/differences between Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C.(which is just a little over 2 hours from us), the geography of Argentina, the food of Argentina ( we tasted a lot of it!), and specific areas (Iguazu, Ushuaia, las Pampas), el tango (we learned the basic steps to the dance and they LOVED it!) and a bit of soccer (although we ran out of time for this). The novela has a lot of dialogue (good for acting out the story), a bit of romance, a lot of mystery and an ending open to interpretation. I was able to include bits and pieces of my students’ favorite themes from throughout the school year, and the students came up with their own decisions as to what actually happened at the end….or maybe I left it open for a sequel!
These were the “I can” statements for this unit: