|K||This term, students in kindergarten began to use the target language with their peers. Previously, kindergarteners were accustomed to answering ¿Cómo estás? with a variety of responses (Estoy/I am… feliz/happy, triste/sad, cansado(a)/tired, bien/good, mal/bad, aburrido(a)/bored, así-así/so-so, etc.). Now, students are expected to ask their classmates this question, and listen to the answer at the beginning of every class. Students also learned how to ask, ¿Puedo ir al baño?/Can I go to the bathroom? and ¿Puedo ir a tomar agua?/Can I go get a drink? |
If students ask to get a drink and the teacher asks why, they know to answer, [porque] no tengo hambre. Tengo sed. / [because] I’m not hungry. I’m thirsty. The second part of the quarter dealt with getting more specific in their [toy] requests. That is, en lieu of asking for the toy, students worked on expressing I want this toy. “This” changes in Spanish depending on what one is referencing, so this will be an ongoing discussion throughout the year. But kindergarteners have done a fine job this term accepting that fact. It has been an absolute joy working with your children this term. Gracias.
|1||This term, students in first grade extended their “Can I…?” questioning to the extreme. The following is a list of questions that most students have mastered: Can I go the bathroom? Can I play with…? Can I draw on the board / with paper? Can I paint? Can I sit here? Can I sleep? Can I get a drink? Can I read a book? Can I build something? First graders also became accustomed to answering the question, ¿Cómo se dice, “…” en español/inglés? / How do you say, “…” in Spanish/English? |
This question was later used to test first graders’ knowledge when translating the Daily Spanish Message on the whiteboard. Initially, the Daily Spanish Message stated facts about the day in the target language, but as students’ reading comprehension improved, the teacher would slyly change an obvious truth (Hoy es domingo / Today is Sunday). Now, students immediately recognize what is incorrect and confidently declare what the message should read. Gracias for a great term.
|2||This term, students in second grade continued with the communicative-oriented focus and worked on acquiring more practical language (high frequency words/phrases). Students spend the first five minutes to ten minutes every class listening to their peers 1) ask permission to do specific activities, and 2) request specific items or materials, all in the target language. After that, students begin mixing old and new vocabularies. Second graders choose activities that interest them, and tend to pursue one in particular class after class. |
In other words, students are constantly creating and adding on to their ideas, constantly digging deeper, constantly growing. As a result, their vocabularies grow with them. For example, this week a few students asked if they could paint some miniature clothespins they found. The answer was yes, provided they learn the word for clothespins (pinzas). Second graders are now working to take apart memorized expressions and reapply the words in different contexts and situations. This particular skill, once mastered, allows for advanced personal expression in the target language. Gracias for a fabulous term.
|3||This term, students in third grade focused on creating two incredibly elaborate class stories. The first story eventually ended when snow days interfered and everyone lost track of the plot, and the other has really only just begun. Students this year are quite detail-oriented, in the sense that instead of lasting two or three days, class stories tend to spread themselves out over three or four weeks each. This means that: characters have very pointed motivations about what they are doing and why; students have time to illustrate the fortalezas y castillos (forts and castles) where all of the action occurs; and interesting vocabulary from the entire year – in addition to previous years – begins to pop up (armada/armada, soborno/bribery, pulpo/octopus, etc.). |
When students ask in the target language to draw a certain part of the story, the teacher generally agrees, with the right to, well… heckle. So, this is the octopus’ fort – the what? – so this is the octopus’ fort – the what? – so this is the pulpo’s fort – the what? – so ésta es la fortaleza del pulpo – oh, now I understand… Language is a sentient being! A living thing! Students are now beginning to understand that, from the moment they step in the Spanish room, if you know the word, you must use it! …or else the conversation will not advance beyond – the what? What did you say? You must understand, my English is very poor. In fact, I do not really speak it at all. Gracias to all for another great term.
|4||This term, students in fourth grade continued working in the class pueblo, and even named it (El pueblo de las sombras / Shadow Town). Fourth graders take their roles quite seriously, and alternate working as store clerks, police officers, advertisers, or customers. A typical day in the pueblo involves trips to multiple businesses and a lot of Spanish. For example, at the local cine, or movie theater, students pay cinco euros (five Euro) to watch the latest Señor Wooly video: El banco. Students announce show times, collect dinero, and then happily sing along in Spanish until they are forced to hand over another five Euro or be on their merry way. |
Some students spend class time buying property (outlining houses and other businesses on the floor with masking tape), while others prefer to script, rehearse, and later perform dramas at the local teatro (theater). Fourth graders even discussed running for town offices, and actually gave some terrific political persuasive speeches one day, but ultimately decided that the teacher should remain in charge. It is therefore with much pride that I, the official mayor of Shadow Town, must thank the citizens of Shadow Town for bringing the word p-u-e-b-l-o to life.
|5||This term, students in fifth grade continued to learn about and apply the details of good acting to their roles in two more legends: El collar de oro (New Mexico) and El hijo-ladrón (Guatemala). They first directed their attention to gestures, and then later worked on including expression in their portrayal of a character. Students discussed how posture, walking, accents, and facial expressions can drastically alter one’s perception of a person. A “swagger” can define someone even before s/he utters a word. |
After having studied Latin American legends all year long, fifth graders are now prepared to put the final touches on their end-of-the-year performances for the Cinco de Mayo Festival. As students begin memorizing lines, gathering props and costumes, and designing backdrops, please do not hesitate to ask for time/location details. You will not want to miss this great event!