Taking Robo en la Noche out of the classroom

This is the fourth year that my Spanish III classes have read Robo en la Noche by @Kristy Placido.  (It will also be my last time teaching it since we are moving it to Spanish II next year, but then I get to teach Noche de Oro in Spanish III!) I finally feel that we “almost” got it right, this, the fourth time!

I live in a relatively small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. My students are not, for the most part, world travelers. Many of them have rarely ventured off of our peninsula.  The concept of a rain forest is a foreign concept (pun intended). How to make a rain forest “real” for them? I love the idea of creating a rain forest in the classroom…I’ve seen that in several posts by great teachers. However, our classrooms are shared, and used every period of the school day. Therefore, that wasn’t really a viable option. In the second year with the novel, I got the idea, almost at the end of the novel, to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  It has a rain forest, parrots, monkeys, etc. By the time we visited, we had been out of the novel for weeks and the possible power of the moment was lost. The third year in the novel, I revisited the idea of the Aquarium, got the timing almost right and was almost satisfied with the visit. This time, the fourth time with the book, we visited the Aquarium in conjunction with Makenna, Inés, and Dr. Parker traveling to Curú. That was, in my opinion, the time to go!

Having visited the Aquarium myself many times, and using the detailed website, I was able to create a scavenger hunt for my students. This has been part of the visit each time. Last year, in addition to the pictures that students had to take as part of the hunt, I added a video component. However, it was difficult for the students to send me their videos due to board of education restrictions, phones, and length of videos.  This year, they did about 30 seconds of character interpretation or a quick scene in the “selva”. They had a blast, for the most part, doing them and I was pleased with the results.

Here are the parts of the scavenger hunt. They were working in small groups of their own choosing ( 3- 6 students in a group).

I.  Animals: We have been adding animals to our active vocabulary as we have progressed through the novel.  I have used songs such as What Does the Fox Say? in Spanish, El Pollito Pio (with an inventive paper from Zachary Jones/Zambombazo from several years ago), Save the Americans, Costan Rican Animals for the Overworked, some previous things that I had created to go with an old “Animal” unit, and Lion King materials from years ago. We have had many conversations about animals, pets, exotic animals, etc. Therefore, I had them create a list of animals that they saw in the Aquarium that they knew how to say in Spanish.

II.  The Rain Forest: I had them list what they could see and hear as they visited this wonderful part of the Aquarium.



















III. FOTOS! Who doesn’t like selfies and group photos???

 Las fotos que necesitan (efectos especiales son buenos!)
1. la rana venenosa azul o verde del árbol
2. Su grupo con una vista (view) del Inner Harbor
3. Con un loro amarillo y verde del Amazonas
4. Su grupo con su animal favorito del acuario                                                                          5. De un pez sierra                                                                                                                     6. De un boa esmeralda
7. Una persona del grupo tocando una medusa de luna O un cangrejo herradura O una estrella del mar en el lugar “Living Seashore”. ¡Si tienes más de un animal, puedes substituir para otra foto! This last part, new this year, was a huge hit! They loved taking their pictures touching these.
























IV. Random Information:
1. ¿Qué esqueleto está cerca del techo en el acuario?
A. dinosaurio B. ballena C. tiburón
2. ¿Cómo se llaman dos “rayas” que están en Blacktip Reef?
3. ¿Qué animal es “la mascota” del acuario?
4. ¿Qué animal tiene electricidad en el acuario?
5. ¿Qué tipo de animal es Feliz?
6. En la selva tropical, busca información sobre el papagayo/loro: ¿Dónde puede vivir? ¿Quién es el “predator” de estos pájaros/aves?
7. ¿Cómo se llama el réptil que está en la exhibición de Tidal Marsh ? (Es el réptil oficial del estado de Maryland, y de la universidad de Maryland)
V. The Video en la selva!!! We made a breakfast stop when we were about an hour and a half away from the aquarium. After we got back on the bus, I gave them the scavenger hunt paper which included the directions for the video. They had the time, if they chose to use it, to begin thinking and talking about the video that they would create. If I were going next year, I would not give the option of a “scene” from the book in the rain forest. I would make all of the videos character representations in the selva. However, here were the directions for this year:
• Una persona es Inés, una persona es Makenna, una persona es Dr. David Parker, y otras personas como Cecilio o Juan Carlos.
• Tienen que imaginar que Uds. están en Curú (la selva tropical).
• Tienen que usar muchas de estas palabras:
1. Aves                                                                                                                                     2. Soga
3. Loro o papagayo                                                                                                                   4. Huevos
5. Selva                                                                                                                                     6. Árbol
7. Volar                                                                                                                                   8. Plumas
9. Soltar                                                                                                                                10. Patas o alas
11. Cuidar                                                                                                                               12. Pierna rota
• Cada persona tiene que hablar. El video debe durar 30 – 45 segundos, NO MÁS!!!!
Since I can’t upload any videos on this free wordpress site, I am posting some action shots from their videos below!

We finished our visit through the Aquarium with the “delfines” which was enjoyable for all and then made our way to The Cheesecake Factory for a late lunch….that, too, was definitely a hit! Since we could not go to Costa Rica, this field trip was a good way to bring the rain forest and the environment of Robo en la Noche to them. Even though we live in an area where the humidity is pretty bad in the summer, most of them really complained about how warm and humid it was in the rain forest area of the Aquarium.
I’m not sure how many readers might have access to a zoo or an aquarium in their regions, but it certainly is worth looking into. It is a way to make the action and the setting much more relevant and believable for the students.




Robo en la noche…..third time is a charm!

This is the third time that my fabulous colleague, Megan Matthews, and I are teaching Robo en la noche by Kristy Placido. The first time was two years ago and we rushed through it in the final weeks of school, relying heavily on the terrific resources from Cynthia Hitz.  The second time was last year and the rhythm of teaching was disrupted multiple times by many snow days and the intrusion of PARCC testing that disrupted our schedules for weeks. This year, the third time, we have only had two snow days, and the book is flowing very well. We have continued to add resources to the novel as we ourselves expand our knowledge of TPRS and CI techniques to complement some traditional methods.  Previously, I have blogged twice about Robo, see here and here. Since it is a snowy President’s Day here in Maryland (and I should be grading papers!), I decided to post some of these new resources that might be of interest to others who are using Robo en la noche, also. We are going to be starting chapter 9 this week.

Chapter 2: Chap 2 picture sort and group presentation With this activity, I gave every student a laminated card (took the luxury of printing them in color!), and they had to decide how to group themselves.  The tentative categories were Makenna, Margarita, Costa Rica, Cecilio, etc. My Spanish III classes have between 24 – 28 students, so I needed a lot of pictures! Once they decided their own groups, they worked together to create a presentation about their category.  I gave them about 4 minutes, and they shared it with the class, using their pictures to illustrate what they were saying.  I think that in the future I might follow that with having each group write an individual summary of their presentation.  Note: Some of the pictures could fit into more than one category, it was up to the student to decide where to go.  Prior to their group presentations, I had the class assess whether the pictures were in the correct grouping, and they were allowed to change, if necessary.

Chapter 3:  This year Megan and I are really focusing on verbs and target structures.  We spent a lot of time working on the various forms of casarse, embarazado, pensar, morir and sonreir. We had worked repeatedly with the various forms using a SMART presentation.  Here are some samples from that: 1 2 3












Our final repetition used this “Toca” board. ch 3 toca vocabulary  4 Working with a partner, students first identified the meaning of all of the structures.  Then, each working with a different colored dry erase marker (the boards were laminated), I said one of the structures in English.  The first to highlight the correct structure scored the point. We wiped the board clean and repeated this several times. By the time we actually read the chapter, all of these structures were easily understood by the students.  There was absolutely no stumbling!


Chapter 5: Review bird with all characters  5Working with a partner and different colored dry erase markers, students selected a character and said one sentence about that character, coloring through the character that they selected.  Since the characters are within the bird multiple times, they were able to say many facts about each character without repeating.  This activity lasted about 5 minutes; when they were done, they held up their birds (now colorfully illustrated), and, just for fun, we selected the “prettiest” bird.

Chapters 5-6 Chapters 5 – 6 pictures for oral assessment smaller version I tried some variations with these picture cards (to be printed in color and laminated). The pictures can just be shown to the class, with the entire class adding descriptions to each picture.  The pictures can be given one at a time to a group of 2 – 3 students, who describe the picture with as much detail as possible, and then pass the picture to another group.  Or, using an idea from Carrie Toth, called the yellow brick road, I took the students into the hallway, made a “pathway (yellow brick road)” with the pictures and they worked (in partners) their way through each picture.  I allowed about a minute with each picture before asking them to move one picture to their right/left.  It was relatively easy for me to circulate and listen to their conversations to give them an informal speaking assessment.

Chapter 7 Capítulo 7 Robo en la noche predict the chapter  6Prior to reading chapter 7 and working with a partner, students identified each picture and then selected which pictures they thought would represent what would happen in Chapter 7.  They put an X on the pictures that they thought would not represent action in the chapter.  After deciding, they turned the paper over and wrote 5 sentences about what they expected would happen in the chapter and then presented them to the class.  Their ideas were certainly interesting!! After reading the chapter, we checked the papers/predictions again.

Chapters 7/8:  Some game breaks

I hope that something in this post may be useful to someone else.  If you are using this book, I would love to hear some of your ideas.


Mini Assessments for Robo en la Noche

Time is simply flying by this school year!  We have dealt with some pretty unusual circumstances….9 snow days during the reading of the novel, 16 days of PARCC testing (do not even ask me how I feel about this!), and I have missed some time due to surgeries that I had hoped could wait til summer (wasn’t possible).  Therefore, finishing the novel Robo en la Noche  by Kristy Placido. was a bit chaotic. I opted for 2 mini assessments at the end of the book, both of which were completed by students when I was not in school.  That makes the results, for me, even more amazing.

The first mini assessment was called Análisis de Carácter.  Students had to choose a character from the book and an adjective/noun/emotion that depicted how that character acted or felt: enojado, asustado, tonto, bruto, triste or feliz,. Their task was to find ten supporting sentences or phrases (dialogue or action)  that supported that character and adjective choice.  They had one 45 minute class period to do this.  Here are some examples:

13j 3 adj 1 adj 2 adj 4 adj 5

The second mini assessment that started in class on a Friday, and it was due when I returned on Tuesday.  There were four options for them, and they can be found in this document mini pbt choices revised. Here are some examples of the work that I received, from obviously artistic students as well as others for whom stick figures rock! photo 1 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo 6 photo 7 photo 8 photo 10 photo 11 photo 12 photo 13 photo 149

I can not emphasize enough how fulfilling it is to use these novels.  The students enjoy them, they feel good about what they are able to do, they feel successful, and their growth is obvious.  Comprehensible input is definitely, for me, an excellent methodology.  I am going to order the sequel to Robo en la Noche, Noche de Oro, because so many of them want to know what happens to the characters….who DID say Pura Vida at the end of the novel, what happens to Dr. Parker and Ines, what does Makenna do….?.  Because I will have many of them in Spanish IV next year, their opportunity to read the novel as part of our curriculum is not available (we read La Llorona de Mazatlan, Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha, and hopefully La Hija del Sastre in level 4)….but free reading choice is!!! Our thoughts for Level 3 next year include repeating Esperanza and Robo en la Noche as well as adding Blanca nieves y los siete toritos.