After I posted my "Dear Blog..." post, I got some great suggestions from several teachers regarding how to engage learners. I decided that I needed to do something completely different than what I have been doing both because I needed the change and also I wanted to surprise my students.
I settled on the book Pobre Ana. We have a class set, which I typically use quarter 4 as a review of everything that we have learned the whole year. This time, I decided to use it to introduce material, rather than review it.
The first thing I did was go on the Internet and find some lesson plans for Pobre Ana. I made copies and got the kids started reading it. I did a little bit of pre-teaching and then we dove into the book. The kids had a word wall of the main structures needed to understand the book. Since we have been studying the family, ages and people descriptions, they had a good understanding about the first part of chapter 1. I read the book out loud while they followed along and then I started asking questions about Ana. I used a variety of question words and asked for ages, descriptions, places, etc. Most of the kids actively participated and then the light went on! They were excited about doing this activity because it "felt" as if they could understand and say A LOT! The whole process seemed very fluid and natural.
Today, I showed them this film http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/cortometraje-alma/. Thank you, @ZJonesSpanish, you are my creative superhero. As pre-teaching, I gave the students a short reading that had some of the words that they would need such as la ciudad, la tienda, etc. Then, I just let the film play. They were SO spooked until the surprise happened and they realized that it wasn't as scary as they thought it was going to be. The next time I played it, I muted it and did movie talk with it. The third time, I asked questions and they answered questions in Spanish about the film. Finally, they did the worksheet that goes with the film. It dawned on me that this was the PERFECT opportunity to introduce "Me gusta/No me gusta and Me encanta". Since it was on the sheet, I also taught them "Me parece divertido" which is a phrase that I normally wouldn't have taught until Spanish 3. For the summary, I had them write sentences about the protagonists. I got some great sentences such as "la niña es curiosa", la muñeca es espeluznante y rápida". I was SO impressed with their work and almost every student did all of the work.
So, my take away is that I need to find the right bait so that my fish will bite. Pobre Ana will be on the worm menu and I may just have to keep bringing some short films. They loved them!