Inside: A review of TPRS Books’ novel Bart quiere un gato with resources to use the novel in class.
**Update please read this blog post about my statement of why I no loger support TPRS books
At #CIIA18 we were very fortunate that TPRS Books donated a copy of their new novel Bart quiere un gato to all attendees. (Plus Mike and Craig came to Iowa again after their awesome training in Dunkerton that we hosted). Bart quiere un gato is a fun choose your own adventure type book that would be perfect for any Spanish class. I think it would work as early as Spanish 1, but would be engaging to Spanish 2 and 3 as well, as you can never read a novel that is too easy. You can get the sample here as well as the complete glossary. It claims to only have 70 words, but that does not count cognates or multiple forms of the same verb. (I would much rather have the back of the book list tengo, tiene and tener separately because we all know there will be students who go to look up “tengo” but only see tener and get frustrated. But that is just my two cents).
What is pretty awesome is you can get the 82 page Simpli-guide download with everything you need to teach the novel. The simpli guide has some awesome ideas about how to use the novel with Spanish 2 and above including how you can incorporate specific tenses such as conditional, past and even past subjunctive through your discussions. It shows how you can read a lower level book, but use it to have higher level discussions. There are also some Youtube videos with Blaine Ray teaching with the novel to give you some ideas of how you could teach it. Bart Lesson 1 online, Blaine Ray – Bart quiere un gato lesson in person
The book is set up differently than any other book I have taught. Instead of chapters it is organized by decisions that the students or class makes. There are teachers resources for each of these decisions like a typical guide has for chapters called “cheat sheets” with discussion questions, true/false statements, PQA, would you rather questions, extension and more. They would be SO HELPFUL to a teacher, since it is hard to be completely familiar with every possible choice that Bart makes. You could end up with every section of your classes following different paths and basically reading a different version of the same books, so this would be a sanity saver for teachers.
The story options themselves are very entertaining. I am sure my students would have a ton of fun with this book. Now that I have a class set I am probably going to change my plans and have my upper level classes do about a week or two unit using this book early in the school year. It would be a lighthearted way to get back into the swing of Spanish class. It could also be done in small groups with different groups choosing how the book moves forward. If you do not have a class set, it would also be a great option for a free reading library. I would make sure to get a couple because I have a feeling it will be popular!
**Update** In fall of 2018 I started the first week of Spanish 3 with this novel. We started as a group choosing a joint adventure, but then split of in groups. I just asked each group to track what pages they read so we could compare and discuss. I read to the group that wanted to be with me with more support. We read it pretty fast, without a ton of discussion and used it as a fun, quick review in under a week.
As an assessment I used the reading assessment provided in the guide . I also had them do a free write just retelling their version of the book. I used it as a base to start the year.
Are you planning to teach the novel? Here are a few more resources I have found.
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