|K||This term, students in kindergarten reviewed numbers, family members, and days of the week with their long-term substitute (while I was in China). Students also exercised their reasoning skills in the target language, as part of the daily routine for the fourth quarter was to read a Spanish book at the start of every class. Using familiar vocabulary and visual cues (pictures), students quickly deduced and were able to translate the main ideas of numerous books, including: Perro grande, perro pequeño; El cuento de Ferdinando; ¿Eres tú mi mamá?; Bizcocho encuentra un amigo; Huggly y los libros; David se mete en líos; Cucú, te veo; Lo siento, Samuel; and No, David. |
As a final project, kindergarten students illustrated and wrote two of their secret passwords (contraseñas) on a note card. Students use these passwords to enter and exit the Spanish room. Students also learned how to introduce themselves and speak with expression in the target language. It has been an absolute joy working with your children this year. Gracias.
|1||This term, students in first grade practiced saying days of the week, months, and numbers (1-30) in Spanish with their long-term substitute. They also read several bilingual books together, and reviewed body parts vocabulary (while I was in China). Later on in the term, first graders were challenged to write – instead of simply read – the Daily Morning Message in Spanish on the board. They also practiced writing their requests (or questions) on the board. |
That way, students could share with one another what they were writing, and peer-edit when necessary. Writing also helped students with their phonetic understanding of the language (looking at the letter “j” and pronouncing it like an “h”). Lastly, first graders reviewed all of the vocabulary from the year, and surprised themselves with how much they could recall. Gracias for a super year!
|2||This term, students in second grade practiced saying days of the week, months, and numbers (1-30) in Spanish with their long-term substitute. They also read several bilingual books together, and reviewed food and body parts vocabulary (while I was in China). Later on in the quarter, second graders focused on responding instinctually in the target language, and trying to use as many high-frequency expressions as possible during class time. |
Students spent the last few weeks of the school year learning how to spell and write correctly what they have been saying all year long. The culmination to this hard work was a “Note Card Project”, where students had to write down 1) what they wanted, 2) what they needed in order to do what they wanted, and 3) what they didn’t want. On the back, they wrote their passwords. Second graders wrote several rough drafts, one final draft, illustrated their cards, and then handed them in to be laminated. They are now able to read, write, speak, and comprehend what is on the card. Congratulations to a job well done by all!
|3||This term, students in third grade really played with the target language. To learn the question, Can I sharpen my pencil?, the teacher presented a dreadfully boring, pretend grammar lesson, only to be interrupted every ten seconds by students asking, Can I sharpen my pencil? Naturally, two more seconds into the make-believe lecture, the grinding of the electronic sharpener drowned out the tedious explanations. Another game evolved when an overabundance of English flooded into the Spanish classroom one afternoon. |
When students became hyperaware of how much English they were using, they put forth their best effort to eliminate it during the last few weeks of school. In the game, students actually led the class as “teacher”. For example: You! What do you want? I want to play with the caterpillar (toy). A dramatic pause for effect then occurred, followed by the response: Yes, you can / no, you can’t. If a student was talking, the “teacher” would respond: Silence! Pay attention! Sit down! If a student was accused of speaking English, the student would respond: I’m so sorry! Cued responses ensured students’ comprehension; third graders had to understand the Spanish they were hearing in order to respond with a contextually appropriate phrase. Gracias for a fabulous year.
|4||This term, students in fourth grade studied an abridged version of Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece, Don Quixote de La Mancha, with their long-term substitute (while I was in China). Because fourth graders also study Shakespeare in their regular classroom, they were able to make connections between the two writers (who both lived during the same period and actually died on the same day in 1616). Partway through the quarter, students returned to their ever-evolving pueblo. One day, something quite interesting occurred: there was a big commotion in the town square… something about customers leaving one shop and traveling across town to a similar shop… with lower prices… and better service… hmm. |
This, as the class learned, is called competition, and is exactly what happens in the [real] business world. To ease the tension as well as get them thinking, students were told to list specific reasons re: why clients should come to their store. The pueblo lives and breathes because of days like these; the town is both real to students and realistic by nature. As a result, students are emotionally involved. They are not merely translating vocabulary words; they are, very literally, living the language. Gracias for an incredible year.
|5||This term, students in fifth grade worked with their long-term substitute to create DVD’s of the legends they have been studying and rehearsing all year. Complete with Spanish dialogue and English subtitles, the DVD’s were a success, and therefore shown at the Latin American Festival. Following the festival (and my return from China), students spent the last few weeks of school synthesizing all of the vocabulary they have been learning via lively, informal discourse classes. |
When the weather finally improved, the teacher ratified an amendment: students could play Spanish soccer outside for half of the class, if and only if they were excellent listeners and participated in the target language in the classroom on any given day. This motivational method (as their minds began to drift to summer vacation plans) worked like a charm to keep fifth graders focused and on task for their last few weeks in Lower School. Gracias for an outstanding year.