Season 3, Ep 6: FVR with A.C. Quintero

Show notes for season 3 are written and compiled by Emily Loughlin

Welcome to Inspired Proficiency and thank you for joining us for episode 6 of season 3. Season 3 is brought to you by our presenting sponsor Wayside Publishing! As always, please tweet any takeaways and inspirations to #inspiredproficiency. 

Download the episode here: or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts here or find it wherever you listen to podcasts!

On this episode Ashley chats with author A.C. Quintero who is offering a giveaway to Inspired Proficiency listeners! Enter to win a trilogy from author A.C. Quintero by tweeting! Listen for details!

Trilogy.AC Quintero

Ashley starts the episode with information about a project in her classroom called Teacher for a Day based on ideas she got from Laura Sexton. Laura was a guest back in season 1 on episode 9. Listen to her episode here.

Teacher for a Day

Students plan, prepare, and lead an entire class period in Spanish. They pick themes, vocabulary words, and activities. Rule of thumb- stick with general words to cover more content and not super specific things. Students can use props and bring their class to life. They hook the other students, do movement, and do a reading and writing activity. The kids come up with awesome material that the teacher can use and play with other classes later on. The content can be anything so the students are really empowered to do a lot with the language and lead really powerful activities. Students might need more help the first year but they quickly realize how much more language they possess year after year and push themselves to be even more creative in the second or third year of the project.

4 Reasons to use Teacher for a Day in Your Classroom in the Spring

  • Teacher creativity is low
  • Student creativity is high
  • Students have acquired language and want to do something with all their knowledge
  • It makes a great sub plan for when you need to be out.

Reasons it might not be ideal for a 90% TL classroom:

  • They need to use English for the planning time. It usually works out to balance 10% only based on the rest of the year.
  • Novices and low intermediates are leading the class so the input is not perfect but the teacher can step in and help.

Teacher for a Day Resources

Day 1: Requirements and Brainstorming

Day 1 Mod: Modified for 1st Year Novice

Day 2: Deciding and Planning

Day 3: Preparing

Day 4: Finalizing and Practicing

Here is a testimonial from super fan listener Amelia Eastin with her thoughts on why Teacher for a Day is an awesome activity that you should try in your classroom.

“1. Their ability in Spanish is being showcased. Honestly I forget they are speaking 100% Spanish sometimes because they seem so comfortable doing it. SO amazing!! The environment of 100% Spanish has completely paid off. It is second nature for them and they can have so much fun in the language doing just about anything our student-profes ask of them.

2. Novelty- I am getting a ton of new ideas. My students are being so creative in making all their transitions and brain break, games fit into their topic. They are showing me new and interesting ways on how to share out. We are doing new things and keeping class interesting which is SO key for the end of the year

3. I get to participate as a student. This reminds me how it feels to be in their shoes which is PRICELESS! I am reflecting big time on how I need to better balance out my lessons with speaking, writing, reading, playing, output vs. input, time to reflect, etc. Also, what they are presenting is a pretty big reflection of what they’ve been exposed to from be in the last 160 lessons- so it’s def calling me out in areas I need to improve on and make new goals/adjustments for next year

4. It’s been fun participating and not leading the class. I get to be more present since I don’t have control of the pace or the lesson itself. Each class have given me a new name in Spanish for my new student alter-ego. I also get to exemplify model student behavior.

5. A side benefit- I think students can empathize a bit more on the challenges of our job.

Some highlights from this week: (I’m the worst about taking my photos I wish I could have captured more) A beach/pool lesson plan in which we played pool games and created sand art. An upper level group did conspiracies and used JFK assassination for a new Mafia game and then did a blind communicative avoiding the Bermuda Triangle, A futuristic theme had us playing a new game called moon ball (robots vs. aliens). They certainly aren’t all amazing, but it’s worth the duds jajaja. I am so inspired Ashley! Thanks for giving me the tools!!!”


AliciaAlicia Quintero is a Spanish teacher from Chicago. She teaches levels 1 and 4 in an IB school. Some of her readers are available in French but they are all available in Spanish. Alicia has been writing since about 2015 and has been teaching for 14 years. Her writing came from a lot of storytelling in class and she was using this avenue to try to solve problems happening within the classroom.

What does FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) look like your classroom?

It depends on the class and the level of engagement with reading. We as teachers need goals for what we want to accomplish during a reading session. We know that reading bolsters second language acquisition but they can also learn more than that, like a life lesson.

Level 1

In the beginning..

  • Talk about teacher’s favorite book and use questions about favorite books of the students
    • Slowly introducing and inferring new and important vocabulary
    • Tapping into background knowledge from what they do in English class
    • Video about her modeling questions
  • Talk about their books and enjoy the experience of sharing what you have read
  • Socializing about reading has strengthened relationships in class
  • Different models of reading and pairing either silent, out loud, one out loud one listen, etc…
  • Literature Circles sharing about their different books
  • Students are so excited to read they bother her in the hallway to ask when they’re going to read again
  • What it looks like
    • Outline the goals
    • Read
    • Time to process and discuss
  • Students will continually impress you with what they acquire from the novels.
  • Huge social emotional impact of reading and identifying with characters and classmates.

Level 4

  • Higher expectations in terms of length and levels of reading and proficiency when talking about what they read

FVR as a unit

  • Basic literary elements are out of the way and kids have these words ready for a film unit later on
  • Discussions about favorite books? Movies?
  • Reading Guides with questions related to their book of choice
    • All in the Target Language to help students prepare for end of unit assessments
  • 90 minute classes
    • ~45 minutes on reading tasks
    • Teacher reads a different novel to the class
    • They read their own choices
      • Read for about 15 minutes
      • Work on reading guides
        • Exposition
        • Cover (maybe do a picture talk of the cover)
        • Characters
        • Conflicts
    • Conversation circle
      • Becomes an assessment when ready
      • Focus on vocabulary and basic structures they should be proficient with
      • Put yourself in place of character
  • End unit with a book critique and many questions come from the reading guides


She also uses the TV show El Internado about a Spanish boarding school with classes and watching some of those episodes helps with talking about some of the same vocabulary from describing what is going on when reading.

Students are capable of reading and understanding levels higher than we think they are and we should always be pushing them to learn more and more with harder materials. As long as we give them time to process it and talk about it at their level then they can usually handle it.

Assessments for FVR

  • Speaking/ book talk/ literary circles
  • Writing/ book critique
  • Listening to native speakers talk about their favorite books
  • READING usually a short authentic story

How can we educate administrators and colleagues on the importance of reading?

Make the same arguments as ELA and Social Studies teachers and use Common Core to back you up on the importance of literacy. Read at some scholarly articles talking about the benefits of reading in a second language. Talk to the ELA teachers about the budget they get for materials to read in English and bring some of those arguments as to the same reason they need them in the World Language Department.

Big Takeaway! Get your students reading and if you have a story to tell, write it! A.C. Quintero is not the only author writing awesome FVR books for World Language classrooms. Go explore all the authors out there and give your students something to be excited about in class!

Resources and links mentioned on the show:

Guest: A.C. Quintero


Other resources:


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