|K||This term, students in kindergarten first learned a new password: la contraseña, or password. While the bulk of the quarter was spent increasing students’ vocabularies and cementing those words in their minds, the real focus was on linguistic expression. Kindergarteners can memorize vocabulary easily, but for them to internalize it, they need to experience language. Thus, “playtime” continued to be a necessary element of Spanish class, and as we reviewed vocabulary and expressions from the year, I began to notice something beautiful occur: attached to language were context, meaning, and expression. |
When one student angrily yelled “¡PARA!” at his friend for touching his newly constructed bridge, I knew that “STOP!” was really ingrained in his mind; the command was fueled by emotion, and not a teacher demanding answers. Kindergarteners also learned about the history of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo, and later memorized all of the Spanish-speaking countries in South America by jumping from place to place on my floor map. It has been a great year! “Therefore, you best of men, don’t use force in training the children in the subjects, but rather play. In that way can you better discern toward what each is naturally directed.” –Socrates
|1||This term, students in first grade took synthesizing to a new level. That is, students are now familiar with a variety of action words, nouns, and questions; therefore, utilizing these action words and nouns and questions, and combining them in a sensible manner seemed the most logical next step. So… what is better than a story? A live-action play! Acting quickly became the new rage in first grade as stories about famous actors and actresses traveling to far-off lands (like México or Venezuela) unfolded onstage, err, in the Spanish classroom. |
Basic questions transformed into heated dialogues between thieves and their respective prison guards: [impatiently, from his/her jail cell] – Can I go to the bathroom? [And the stern response] – No, never! In addition to developing their aural comprehension and expression via Spanish mini-dramas, students also learned all of the Spanish-speaking countries in South and Central America by jumping from place to place on my floor map. Gracias for a super year! “Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
|2||This term, students in second grade continued with the conversation-oriented class structure and were exposed to more comprehensible input. They also learned basic salsa and samba steps (culture/music), and spent several classes creating a Spanish comic strip with partners. The last half of the quarter, though, was spent on learning all of the eighteen Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America by jumping from place to place on my floor map. |
Second graders really seemed to enjoy this geography unit, to the extent that students spent entire periods challenging one another: who can name and jump on all eighteen countries the fastest? Any individual time over fifteen seconds was totally unacceptable for these overachievers, and one student even brought his/her time down to six seconds. Geography is important, particularly for Spanish class, because people tend to think of Mexico and Spain as the Spanish-speaking countries in the world, whereas in reality, there are twenty-three Spanish-speaking countries. We only got up to eighteen because, well, the Atlantic Ocean is really big… (mucha agua).
|3||This term, students in third grade finished memorizing the first few stanzas of the song “PAN” (or “BREAD”) from last quarter. To accomplish this, third graders studied the lyrics in both English and Spanish; illustrated the song’s plot; practiced singing the words in groups; and lastly, set up the Spanish classroom as a restaurant and acted out everything in conjunction with the lyrics. Switching modalities – from the musical to the physical – students extended their language study to include the great outdoors. |
Fútbol (soccer) is the sport for Spaniards, and thus, sports vocabulary came into ‘play’, along with several games of tag and hide-and-go-seek. Students are now very comfortable with and accustomed to hearing all instructions and game rules explained in the target language. In fact, I am generally reprimanded if/when I switch to English. Finally, students memorized both Pito, pito colorito (Eeney Meeney Miney Moe) as well as all of the Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America (by jumping from place to place on my floor map). Students have made great strides with their linguistic progress this year.
|4||This term, students in fourth grade accomplished a lot. They continued playing soccer and Dodgeball outside, and really internalized the vocabulary and expressions, so that “outbursts” (But he started it! ¡Pero él lo empezó!) were based on emotion and not translation. Conversely, students also became accustomed to translating and then acting out extended readings, phrase by phrase. Fourth graders took the role of reader, translator, or actor, and then rotated parts so that everyone had an opportunity to participate. |
Even audience members had required, cued responses. Finally, students learned all of the Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America by jumping from place to place on my floor map. While every student in the LS had a geography unit this quarter, fourth graders truly mastered the map. They worked together as a team to beat their overall time (every student names every country), and should be immensely proud of their efforts.
|5||This term, students in fifth grade spent the last few weeks of April working out the final details of their Latin American Festival performance. Following their highly successful debut on Cinco de Mayo, students took a more scientific perspective on language for the remainder of the quarter. That is, fifth graders analyzed the vocabulary with which they were already familiar, and grouped together rhyming words. |
To prepare for this challenging task, students were taught multiple tongue twisters in Spanish. This helped students switch from thinking about language as meaning-based to thinking about language simply as a set of sounds. Later, they used this data to create their own Spanish “raps”. Students also were exposed to the invaluable website www.senorwooly.com (songs in Spanish and English), and ended the year with a final exam. Gracias for a great year!
|7||Reading and Writing Unit: Students begin this unit with a 500 word typed story project. Students use both class time and time outside of class to create their own creative or realistic story. Overarching objectives include using a wide variety of vocabulary and applying age-appropriate writing process strategies (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing). Every day someone does not come to class prepared, students listen to the song Las excusas for purposes of language acquisition (past tense and direct object placement) and pronunciation. After students have presented their impressive compositions, seventh graders begin their last novel of the year, Robo en la noche. |
Initially, students are assigned chapters to read for homework with follow-up quizzes and discussions in class; but choral translations prove to be more effective in measuring their comprehension of a chapter. Therefore, part of this final unit of the year is spent translating together and answering/asking questions about each chapter. Costa Rican culture is also explored. During this time, students also learn about verb conjugations and other grammar patterns, and work on translating phrases and sentences from English to Spanish as well as Spanish to English.
Students are encouraged to ask questions if/when they notice patterns in language. This last unit is a continuous open forum for grammar questions, and it is exciting to watch students discover grammar rules on their own. This year, students ended the year with a trip to a local Mexican restaurant, Jalapeño Loco, in order to put their linguistic knowledge to the test in an authentic setting. An actual [final exam] test was also administered at the end of the year, following the field trip.
Don Quixote unit, Create-A-Myth Project, Extended Reading Project, Boardwork, Reader: Piratas, Native speaker, PK Story Project, Conversation Days, Movie/translation unit, Discussed circumlocution, Song: Las excusas, 500 word typed story project, Reader: Robo en la noche, Grammar, verb conjugations, *Writing-intensive course