Teaching the Novel Tumba

I am wrapping up a three-week unit on the novel Tumba by Mira Canion and wanted to share some of the activities we’ve done. If you are interested, here are my unit plans.

Pre-Readng Activities:

  • Before beginning the book: We discussed products, practices, and perspectives and watched some videos about Día de los Muertos. We filled out a chart to compare the two holidays. Post reading, we will re-visit the chart and see what else students can add.
  • We also used this embedded reading on Tumba. Here is my pre-reading/chapter 1 packet.
  • Crayon wars with chapter word clouds from the teacher’s manual: call out a word in English, students mark it in the word cloud with a colored pencil. Pair up two students with different color pencils and make it a race. After wards, students can self-select words they don’t know to add to their vocab list.
  • Chapter art from the teacher’s manual: To maximize the mileage I get out of copies, I’ve used each chapter art for both listening and writing (I also shrunk the art on the copier so I could fit two or three on a page). First, I will do a listening activity where I read a sentence and students decide which picture it corresponds to, writing the number of the sentence next to the picture. Afterwards, I have them paste the pictures in their ISN and write a sentence or two to describe each picture. You could also use the pictures for story re-tells.
  • Quizlet: Is my favorite! I found a whole folder of Tumba-related sets made by Elena Lopez, and also made Spanish-English sets for the vocabulary I had identified for my students. Question/answer or fill-in-the-blank cards make great sets for rounds of Quizlet live. I like to print these out first for students to match up manually in order to scaffold them up to the speed of Quizlet live.
  • White boards: Put a statement on the board and have student respond on the whiteboards. This works great with True/False statements or Which character ____? questions. It also works well as a post-reading review.
  • Probable/Improbable: After chapter 8, I asked students to make predictions about chapter 9. I then picked several statements to write on big paper and post around the room. Students walked around and gave their opinion on a post-it note as to whether each statement was Probable, Improbable, Posible, Imposible (on second thought, just probable/improbable would  have been enough options). IMG_20161101_075226.jpg

 

Reading:
I really enjoyed reading out loud to students, with student readers doing the dialogue, but towards the end of the book students felt confident enough to read independently or in small groups. Sometimes I would have them read in groups and then read together as a class with actors (low-key reader’s theater), sometimes I would read to them and they would re-read as they completed post-reading activities, and sometimes we skipped the whole-class reading altogether. Variety is important!

Post-reading:

I used a LOT of activities from the teacher’s manual, as well as from Allison’s Wienhold’s blog posts on Tumba (I really liked her idea of having students write quiz questions and quiz each other – we did it after chapter 9 and it was a good change of routine from answering post-reading questions).  I often used the chapter questions from the teacher’s manual, or we played a game like Kahoot (the ones by Elena Lopez are always high quality), Quizlet Live, or Quizizz, or we simply discussed.

Assessment:
Ok, I’m a bit old school here. I made a chapter packet for almost every packet with target vocabulary, comprehension questions, and other related pre-and post reading activities and graded several of these as classwork completion grades. I gave two quizzes – one after chapter 4 and one after chapter 10. Quizzes were all comprehension based, with matching and true/false questions. I will give them a unit test including a writing section (describe a character and/or describe a picture). I am also planning to put students into groups and have them re-enact different parts of the book as a review before the test.

Reflection:
I’ve really enjoyed teaching Tumba, and I think my students have enjoyed it too (planning to give them a survey about this and will share results). I feel like I’ve taught Día de los muertos more completely than any other year, and students have a deeper understanding of it. We also touched on  lots of other cultural topics, such as school schedules, family relationships, and the Mexican Revolution. I also think students acquired a lot of vocabulary, and as we wrote and talked about the characters and events, I was able to do a lot of pop-up grammar about 3rd person singular/plural verb forms. I look forward to teaching it again with future classes and further refining and improving my lessons. If you have funds available for materials, I would highly recommend purchasing a class set of Tumba and the teacher’s guide to go with it.

 

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About Andrea

I am a teacher, dancer, and Spanish-speaker. This is my place to organize & share my thoughts on teaching, foreign language & language learning.
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9 Responses to Teaching the Novel Tumba

  1. lisa vollmar says:

    Hello! i was looking through your unit plan for la tumba, and for chapter 9 it mentions paper doll reading comprehension activity. Could you explain this for me? Many thanks.

  2. Lori Smith says:

    Is there a chance you would be willing to share the packets you made for the chapters? This will be my first time ever teaching a novel and I’m stressing.

  3. Christina Searle says:

    Hello!
    I love the Chapter 1 packet you have created for Tumba. Do you have all the chapter packets for the book available????

    Thank you,
    Christina

    • Andrea says:

      I have vocab for most of the chapters. I mostly use activities from the teacher’s guide to supplement and copy those pages along with the vocab I select to preview.

      • Christina Searle says:

        Okay Thank you. I’m going to order the digital download of the teachers manual. would you be willing to share your vocab lists???

  4. Pingback: Teaching Mira Canion’s Tumba | Lugar para pensar

  5. Callie says:

    Could you share your unit test??

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