October 2021 –
It’s about that time of year, you know the time… the one where you’re starting to feel the weight of planning and more planning. The time when you’re starting to wish that everything had a back-up plan that was easier to use and implement. The time when you wish you had more energy and that everything required less from you. Yeah, that time. That time calls for having strategies on deck that you can use with anything, and strategies that you can manage to implement with ease and at the blink of an eye. Today I’d like to share about one of my favorite reading strategies and a twist on them that I learned about from my friend Lauren Tauchman, a fellow Spanish teacher here in Colorado.
What are embedded readings?
In short, embedded readings are when you start with a core text and then embed in into larger, more complex texts. Or, what you will likely do, take a complex text and squeeze it out for the most important details to create a shorter version. Embedded readings are used for many, many things like introducing a movietalk or a video clip (think Señor Wooly videos), chunking a large, complex text into smaller pieces for your students, the create an introduction to vocabulary or use vocabulary in a more manageable way while you check for understanding and more.
How do I create an embedded reading?
Well, there are two main ways to go about creating an embedded reading series. Typically a series of embedded readings has three levels (though you could do more or less! Modify, people!)
Method 1: You take your core vocabulary and create a short story (think 5-8 sentences). Your story should be the bare bones. No details, just the highlights. For me, this means that each of those 5-8 sentences should contain one of my target vocabulary words. This first level, for me, does not always contain the ending of the story. Typically I cover the first 75% or so of the story. Level 2 takes the first story and embeds it into a more complex version. Add a few sentences, start adding adjectives and details. Give your reader something closer to an ending. However; the focus of the story from the level 1 text should not change. The vocabulary focus should remain the same. Level 3 repeats this process on a higher level. Your students will now be looking at the full text. All the details, ins and outs, etc. While the target verbs should remain the same, the level 3 story will use background knowledge and maybe even stretch your students with new words.
Method 2: Method 2 is the opposite approach. If you already have a text that is too complex or too long or maybe contains too much “new” that you feel like it will not sit right with your students, this is the way to go! “Shrinking Summary” style a la Martina Bex. In this case, you are working backwards. You are taking your more complex text and trimming it of all the “fluff” until you have 8-12 sentences remaining. Possibly re-writing some of the sentences in a less complex way, possibly removing extra vocabulary, possibly shortening details. Then you repeat this process until you have 5-8 total sentences that are focusing on your target vocabulary words. It’s important to remember in this process that you may need to re-write or re-format sentences and structures. If your story is about a child that constantly steals random things, you might write something like “s/he steals many things” instead of listing out each individual item.
When / How do I use an embedded reading?
This is where I’d like to give an extra shoutout to my friend Profe T for her genius. I’ve always used embedded readings to introduce things like MovieTalks or even to introduce a more complex story or concept; but her idea to use it to support vocabulary use and function is wonderful… and I’m using it in class this week! We will be using the verbs needs, works, and lives in class so I created a short embedded reading series for a longer text I was already planning to use! I will be introducing our vocabulary, doing PQA and circling, doing some in context examples, and then introducing my 8 sentence story (yes, it could have been shorter BUT my students have already used these words before and this is a re-fresh on words before our culture unit) You can use this same process with a MovieTalk or even with a longer text that you own or create.
What if I don’t feel comfortable creating an embedded reading?
You can always work with a team to create your first embedded reading! I highly suggest taking an existing text to create your first embedded reading and working backwards if you are working on increasing your comfort level! One of my favorite embedded readings to do is one I created to highlight the differences between ser and estar for my students. You can find that readings here.
If you have tried embedded readings in your classroom, I’d love to know your thoughts and how it went! If you’ve ever taken one of my texts/stories and turned it into an embedded reading, I’d love to see it!