|K||This term, students in kindergarten began their Spanish study with an animal unit. Their very first word was “duck” because I have a collection of twenty-nine rubber ducks in my classroom, and this tends to cause immediate interest and excitement among students of all ages. Students were asked basic questions about ducks – where they live, what they eat, how they move – in Spanish, and then, naturally, they were given special permission to become ducks. |
As an extension to this unit, students were taught a bilingual rhyme describing their likes and dislikes, so that they could express whether or not they liked ducks (or sharks or fish, etc.). Most recently, students in kindergarten have been practicing a children’s song from Colombia. It has been an absolute joy working with your children this past quarter. Gracias.
|1||This term, students in first grade immersed themselves in a world of fantasy and adventure. Beginning as princesas and príncipes, students were paid in Monopoly money (or dinero) for superb behavior at the start of each class. But the amounts were intentionally random, so as to insert a few all-important expressions into the curriculum (e.g., “That’s not fair!”). |
The real fun began, however, when students delved into question formation: Can I have [that toy]? Please, Señorita?! Or in our restaurant simulation: “Hi, I’m … What would you like?” And the creative response: “Hmm, can I have three tacos, a pizza, and some French fries?” Naturally, students paid with their dinero, and one class even went so far as to assign prices to each item listed on the menu, thereby limiting what one could order. What fun!
|2||This term, students in second grade acquired Spanish vocabulary via multiple hands-on science experiments. Amidst floating and sinking rubber ducks, flying paper airplanes, hopping contests, and ruler-balancing competitions, students picked up key vocabulary that should help to ease them into their next unit: extreme storytelling. As we transition from more kinesthetic to visual and auditory lessons, students will have greater exposure to the Spanish written word, through both reading and writing. Their growing interest and confidence in the language are wonderful to see.|
|3||This term, students in third grade achieved verbal mastery of basic object vocabulary, multiple idiomatic expressions, and simple verbs. As a result, students come to class eager to apply their knowledge via lively, informal discourse between the class and myself. They have become accustomed to requesting items, disagreeing about who gets what, defending their positions, and later justifying why such named item belongs to them. |
The beautiful thing about this process is that for students, class has become more about the language than the toys. They understand that it is a game, and they want to listen and respond. Who gets what is [usually] irrelevant. They are progressing rapidly with the language, and their enthusiasm is to be applauded.
|4||This term, students in fourth grade were given two to three language structures (i.e., words and/or phrases) per class on which to focus and internalize. After hearing the structures numerous times and in different contexts, students began to feel more comfortable with the words, and subsequently started applying them in spoken and written stories of their own creation. From Spanish Madlibs to chapter stories to very creative dialogues, students have officially entered the storytelling realm.|
|5||This term, students in fifth grade began by memorizing a Spanish rhyme both to boost their linguistic confidence initially, and also to emphasize pronunciation and phonetics. Its equivalent in English is closest to Eeney Meeney Miney Moe (or Pito, pito colorito). Next, students took a few weeks to study and then later perform a Cuban drama in Spanish for their classmates. |
The last portion of the quarter was spent on comprehensible input, where students are given two to three language structures per class on which to focus and internalize. After hearing the structures numerous times and in different contexts, students began to feel more comfortable with the words, and subsequently started applying them in spoken and written stories of their own creation. Their growing confidence with the language is wonderful to see.
|7||Students begin the year with an in-depth unit about Don Quixote. During each class, students learn about another one of Don Quixote’s crazy adventures, for the dual purpose of exposing them to a rich variety of vocabulary as well as re-training their ears after a long summer (comprehensible input). This eases them into the year because the focus is on comprehension, not output or production. Thus, students hear sentences containing natural language and work on acquiring Spanish sentence structure. Moreover, they are exposed to a world-famous piece of Spanish literature, rich with culture, history, and vocabulary. Partway through the unit, the roles are reversed: students hear the stories in English, and must translate and retell them in Spanish (both verbal and written). |
Chapters explained in English are also discussed on a higher intellectual level than what would normally be possible in Spanish. Role-plays, review games, and dialogues are sprinkled throughout, and the term culminates with the Create-A-Myth project and an extended reading project. For the Create-A-Myth project, students first summarize one assigned chapter of Don Quijote in their own words. Then, in partners, students use technology to create a modern, updated version of that respective chapter (with moving, animated characters online). Students present the project in front of the class, reading typed captions below each “comic”. Students are graded on accuracy of content, preparation for presentation, eye content and use of voice/elocution. For the Extended Reading project, students read seventeen mini-chapters entirely in Spanish (900 words), and draw out each chapter with detailed illustrations, according to what s/he read.