One of the longest and most difficult units in Spanish 2 is the one that focuses on the preterite tense. The preterite (el pretérito) is a past tense, used to express completed past actions/events (or series of completed past events). It’s pretty complex and dense to get through all of the material. There are a lot of irregular verbs and exceptions to nearly every rule. And, while it’s obviously crucial to be able to speak in the past tense, it’s also difficult (and sometimes frustrating) to learn.
For this reason, I wanted to re-think the way I assess student understanding at the end of the unit. In past years I had given a preterite tense unit-ending test. It was 4 pages long and everybody hated it. Including me. So, I started brainstorming about how I could test student understanding of the topic in a fun, authentic way that was still rigorous. I came up with a few ideas but couldn’t really settle on one. So, I decided to pitch all three options to the students and let them choose.
I tried this out with my B Block Spanish 2 Honors class, and the results were fantastic! I was pleased that the students were nearly evenly split among the three options. The students were given class time to brainstorm and create their projects. Although this was an individual assignment, I encouraged the students to brainstorm together and was thrilled with the results. Some students pretended they were on the same trip and wrote separate travel journals about their own perspectives. Others created Facebook profiles for similar characters that interacted with one another across projects. Best of all, the students were using the preterite tense in creative, interesting and innovative ways – more fun, more authentic and less stressful than a 4 page translation test.
Here are the three options, along with some examples of student work!
Option 1: Travel Journal
Imagine that you’re on a fantastic trip of a lifetime and you don’t want to forget any detail, big or small. You decide to write about your trip each evening, recounting what happened earlier that day. Please write at least 2 journal entries in your travel journal, describing everything you did on two (or more) particular days of your vacation.
Here’s a great example from Willow, who wrote about an Australian adventure with several of her B Block classmates!
Option 2: Dear Diary…. (Best/Worst Day Ever)
You have either just had the best day (or the worst day) of your life and you just have to write about it in your trusty diary. Please write 1 diary entry (with 2 paragraphs), describing everything that happened on your best/worst day ever.
Here’s a great example by Alyssa, who chose to create an Adobe Spark Pages website to present her diary entry! Click this link to see her page!
Option 3: Facebook profile
Using Google Slides (template provided), create a Facebook profile. Your status updates (10 total) will narrate various events/actions that took place, thereby using the preterite tense. You could create a Facebook page for yourself, but you could also be a celebrity, historical figure, book/movie character, your dog – be creative!
Here are two examples. Osama chose to create a page as Drake, while Hayden made a page for himself.
¡Bien hecho, chicos! Well done! 🙂