|K||This term, students in kindergarten continued learning through play, but several new ideas were introduced as their linguistic confidence began to increase. First, there are now passwords to enter and exit the Spanish room. Initially, the whole class had one password; now, students have their own unique passwords (aka their favorite animal in Spanish). Second, and following the class greeting and weather report, there are two options: playing or coloring. Students state which activity they would prefer, answer a few follow-up questions, and then play or color. |
Finally, as the most recent addition, students have been formally introduced to the Spanish written word. This means that they must complete at least one written activity each week (before playing), which not only improves their reading skills, but also helps them to reason in the language. Also, they are encouraged to ask questions to clarify any directions, but know that I will only respond in Spanish. If a student does not understand something, nearby translators – or their fellow peers – are ready and willing to help out, resulting in a very bilingual environment.
|1||This term, students in first grade began linking related phrases and questions. For example, instead of simply asking, Can I play?, students also had to state why and be very specific: I’m bored, Señorita… can I play with the ball? Or, Can I build something? I need paper and scissors. After we added Can I sit here? and Can I watch TV? partway through the quarter, we watched Toy Story II during class time in the target language. |
Students shouted out words they understood and I listed them on the board; first graders were excited to see that we filled the entire board one day. Last but not least, students have thoroughly enjoyed the latest listening activity, which almost all grades have listened to: the official ¿Puedo ir al baño? song. You can check out this song at home with your child (English translation included) at www.senorwooly.com. Let me know what you think!
|2||This term, students in second grade adjusted to a more conversation-oriented class structure. Once they had mastered six basic opinion statements – I love it, I like it, I don’t like it at all, that’s not true, etc. – they split off into pairs to ask what they liked / loved / didn’t like (while tossing a ball [una pelota] back and forth). This made for a boisterous but vocabulary-rich environment. Class discussions about likes and dislikes also helped review object and food vocabulary from last year. |
Students spent the second half of the term creating monsters out of various art materials in the Spanish room (body part vocabulary), and also continued with the storytelling theme from last quarter (comprehensible input). Ultimately, though, the class has been much more conversation-oriented this term. Students seem to enjoy the goofy nature of these dialogues; i.e., as their vocabularies expand, so do their ideas…
|3||This term, students in third grade adjusted to a more performance-based class structure. This particular unit began as a class “Game Show”, where students were assigned specific roles (camera people, lights, action, “Applause” signs, contestants, etc.), and progressed to partner mini-dramas performed during class time, all in the target language. Because I have a collection of 80+ unique rubber ducks, one week, students created a story about a specific duck, and later presented their written work to the class. |
Another time, the whole class invented a story about a fake Hannah Montana (who wore a blue cheerleading pom-pom as a wig), with actors and action et al. Presently, students have begun learning a song entitled “PAN” (or “BREAD”), which can be found at www.senorwooly.com under MUSIC. Students have really done well with the shift from input to output-based activities this quarter. Excelente.
|4||This term, students in fourth grade built a bridge between two different sections of knowledge in their minds. Students have mastered a fair amount of informal discourse expressions and vocabulary – for example: Can we go play soccer outside today because everyone wants to, what did you say, what do you think, you are crazy, I want to play, but the girls don’t want to play, etc. Students also know story structure and related vocabulary – for example: There is a boy, his name is Fred, Fred lives in Ohio, Fred likes to play soccer, one day Fred is sad and cries a lot because he can’t play, etc. |
As a result, when students begin combining the two vocabulary sections, fluid Spanish just falls out of their mouths. Conversations and stories suddenly include sentences and vocabulary rich with multiple perspectives. If any of you recall the term, “verb conjugations”, this is it – but sans the headaches and rote memorization. Instead, this quarter fourth graders played Dodgeball and soccer, learned the chorus of Eye of the Tiger, and even practiced reading aloud and acting out a story about a baby who sings hip-hop. It has been a fun term!
|5||This term, students in fifth grade began wrapping up their yearlong legend/drama theme. Students have studied and performed the following plays in Spanish class: La ratona que sabía ladrar (Cuba), El collar de oro (Nuevo México), La casa embrujada (Perú), and El hijo-ladrón (Guatemala). They have also been formally introduced to the timeless novel Don Quijote de La Mancha (España/Spain). |
The aforementioned four plays will be performed at this year’s Latin American Feast on Cinco de Mayo. Therefore, much of the past quarter has been spent rehearsing lines, connecting students’ words with their actions, and working on both aural and bodily expression. Please come and support your child as s/he takes a part (or several) in presenting legend-based plays from around the Spanish-speaking world. More details TBA.
|7||Movie/Translation Unit: Around the third quarter, students need a change of pace. They have been writing, reading, speaking, and listening to Spanish all year long, and it has become just another class. But language study, as the Ohio Standards state, must include enrichment and enjoyment. Students need to understand where and how they can pursue their own research and study of a language outside of class. In this digital age, then, developing a movie/translation unit seemed to open up a world of possibilities. |
The first step is to inform students that one can change the voiceover and subtitles on most DVD’s out there. The second step is to discuss that voiceover and subtitle translations can and do differ; therefore, what students read on the screen versus what they are hearing – even if both are in Spanish – will not necessarily be the same. Students compare and contrast which they prefer and why: English subtitles with Spanish voiceover, Spanish subtitles with English voiceover, or Spanish subtitles with Spanish voiceover. Students discover that their preference is usually in line with what type of learner they are (more visual or more auditory).
As far as the actual movie watching goes, students are given vocabulary to look/listen for each day. Each night, they are required to write a 100+ word summary in Spanish of what they saw, using this new vocabulary. When controversial issues arise, they are encouraged to include their own opinions, so that the summary becomes more of a movie review. Some days, students answer questions about the movie in Spanish. Other days, students compose their own questions about the plot and characters as they are watching. At the end of the week, the teacher compiles these questions and a Jeopardy game is played, with the goal of strengthening students’ memories in the target language.
At this point, the objective is no longer about “memorizing vocabulary”, but instead about remembering movie plots and facts entirely in the target language. Students’ awareness is also raised with respect to different Spanish accents. A movie recorded with Spain-Spanish speakers will have a different sounding “yo” than a Mexican-Spanish speaker “jo” (both signifying “I”). In one movie, students are able to hear an Italian man speaking Spanish, and immediately notice the different accent/rhythm. When students watch a movie with English subtitles and Spanish voiceover, they also pick up on the flexibility translation allows. For example, “guapo” is translated in one as “purty”.
In addition, students are asked to describe their favorite part of the movie, thereby honing in on connecting clauses (“I liked when the man who/that was wearing a black shirt…”). Finally, students marked on a world map the countries where characters traveled (geography), and then compared and contrasted it to their own ethnic background. Near the end of the unit, students played a circumlocution game. Later, students reflected on how they instinctively circumlocute in their native tongue, and discussed how they could apply those same strategies in Spanish as well.