Just to give a bit of backstory before I talk about choral reading, my classes and I all started off the year with a common storytelling unit designed to assess where all of the students were at. I teach grades 5-8 and I wasn’t expecting them to know much more than colours, animals, some numbers, etc. I assumed the grade 8s would be at the highest level of ability, but I actually have some grade 6 classes that seem to know more than some of the grade 8 classes, so I’m glad that I have had this chance to assess them all a bit. You can read more about how I started off the year in my First Day post. After the first day of class, we moved on to some storytelling using the script I had written. Our characters turned out to be Justin Bieber and Will Ferrell in most of the classes, simply because I have some hilarious celebrity masks at school. They were a huge hit with every grade level. They also came up with some interesting pets for the two characters, including a mini-monkey, a giant purple frog, and a llama. Try circling the sentence “La llama se llama Justin Bieber junior” as many times as you can in Spanish! Yes, they not only had Justin Bieber as a character in the story, but several of my classes insisted that Will Ferrell’s animal was named Justin Bieber Junior.
Anyways, to get to the point of this post, after the storytelling we moved into a common TPRS reading technique often called choral reading. This was their first time trying it out, and it went really well. I created a PowerPoint presentation with the story broken up into various slides. I added funny or interesting photos to each part of the story that would help students understand it better and stay engaged. We went through the story together as a class using the presentation. On each slide, I read aloud the sentences in Spanish. Then I had the students chorally translate the sentences into English. I like to use my laser pointer for this, but you can just as easily point with your finger instead. I use the laser pointer to keep all of the students reading at the same speed. This time I was trying to get them used to the speed, so I was very strict about them only translating a word if the laser pointer/my finger was on that word. They had to pause until I moved to the next word. After we translated each slide, I circled the important sentences and asked a few questions about the content of the story. I also occasionally compared the content to information we had learned about students in the class or myself. (ie. Gabriela has dark hair, but I have blonde hair.)
As a final step in the choral reading process, I had students get into partners and translate the whole story (the last slide of the presentation). They each had to translate one sentence at a time, and they had to alternate. I walked around the classroom while they were doing this, and had very few students who were struggling. Afterwards when asked, the students told me how smart they felt because they understood everything in the whole story.