I recently received a few questions from a great reader Courtney who wants to get started using novels in her classroom. After answering her I decided that these are questions that many of you may have, so I will share an elaborated answer with everyone. Here were some of her questions:
- How in the world do you decide which novels to use and when?
- How do the logistics of even getting/having these novels work? By this I mean, how do you go about ordering copies for your classes? How many copies do you order?
I am going to put my answers to her into a 4 step process, that I will call Novel Basics.
- Step 1: Research – buy & read many novels
- Step 2: Find funding & buy the novels
- Step 3: Organize the novels
- Step 4: Plan for the novels
Today I will share steps 1 & 2 Research and Find Funding.
Step 1: Research – buy & read many novels
In order to know what class sets of books you want to purchase, you need to first do your research. Buy sample packs or books from TPRS Publishing, Mira Canion, or others, and read as many books as you can. This way you know which ones you and your students would like. Also check out this great description of novels by difficulty by Bryce Hedstrom. Even if you do not choose them, all of these sample books will make an excellent addition to your classroom library.
Pick your favorites
I have learned if you and your students are new to novels, it is better to use easier books to start with. The students feel accomplished and you can still have deep discussions on real topics. For example, Felipe Alou is technically level 1 novel, but it is in the past tense and has topics of racism and ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic. It could be used at any class level with different discussions and focus. Here is what I taught when last year, but it will be changing with a new school. There are many others out there that have taught the same novels at a variety of different levels.
Figure out how many separate novels and how many copies of each you need.
- Many teachers start with requesting one novel set and teachers package for each level.This allows you to get your feet wet and if it goes well you can then read the same novels in multiple levels.
- If money is not an issue, request one novel per student in each level.
- If funds are tight, books in class sets of 25 are discounted at TPRS Publishing. I will share in the next post how to organize and implement class sets of novels.
- Even if funds are tight make getting the teacher’s package with the teacher’s guide and audio book a priority! These guides are a lifeline and make your first time trying out a new novel so much smoother and more successful.
Step 2: Find funding
There are many ways that I have heard of getting novels funded. The best and easiest is simply purchasing novels instead of a textbook when your curriculum money comes available. If not, I would go through the three steps below, it that order.
Ask your school for funding.
- I started by requesting four novel sets with the teacher’s package (guide and audio book) from my school, one for each level.
- I am sure your district has a reading goal, so in your proposal emphasize how reading in L2 helps with L1.
- If there is no money in the general or curriculum fund, make sure to ask the PTO and School or Community Foundation. If there is still no money check out the next option.
Write a grant.
- There are many local, state, and national grants for teachers.
- For example there is this education grant in my area & the IWLA grant for language teachers in Iowa.
- I have learned the secret is just to apply! Use some time this summer to do some research and prepare some killer grants. Sell yourself by aligning to your district’s reading goals.
Ask for donations
- I have never personally tried this but I know of teachers with success in crowd sourcing sites such as www.gofundme.com & www.donorschoose.org.
Have students purchase the books (update)
- I have heard that at some schools, students are responsible for purchasing the class novels. I know in high school I had to buy a $15 dollar Spanish workbooks at school registration, so this would not be any different. If possible you could set a $20 fee for Spanish class, which would allow you to purchase 4 books per class. If this were the case, you would want to make sure to have extras in case a students was not able to purchase them.
How would you answer the questions above? Do you have other methods of choosing and funding the purchase of novels? If you do please share!
Up next Step 3: Organize the novels & Step 4: Plan for the novels!
Thank you! I'm looking forward to the next post on this. I am getting started with novels this year. My school is funding some and I set up donorschoose.org/grandis to hopefully cover the rest. I plan to use Agentes Secretos with Span 1 and Felipe Alou and Esperanza with Span 2. I know you've taught Felipe Alou, have you tried the other two? I haven't officially ordered anything so if you have counter-advice please share. Gracias!
Mis Clases Locas says
I am glad you found it helpful! It is nice your school is funding some of it Good luck with funding the rest! I have never taught Agentes, but I have heard great things about people using it in class. I actually taught Esperanza twice last year, and would highly recommend it. It brings up such great cultural themes to explore. We started the year in Spanish 3 as their first novel ever and then read it in Spanish 2. Here is my post about teaching with it http://misclaseslocas.blogspot.com/2015/05/teaching-novel-esperanza.html
Let me know if you have more questions as you plan for leaping into novels!
Madame Albrecht says
Thank you so much for sharing tips! I'm reading lots for my AP French class this summer and I'm very much looking forward to your post on parts 3 and 4! Merci!
Mis Clases Locas says
Thank you for reading and I am glad you are looking forward to the sequel. It should be posted Friday morning. Happy reading! – Allison