|1||This term, students in fourth grade excitedly delved into the task of creating their own town (pueblo). After establishing and building their own bank accounts—learning and recording teachers’ Spanish passwords was one way to earn money—the actual simulation commenced. A typical day in the pueblo begins with fourth graders stating where they are going to work. Businesses open at this point include the banco/ bank, juguetería/ toy store, and tienda de arte/ art store. Later, students travel around town, taking out money from the bank, waiting in line, purchasing items, occasionally getting fined for speaking English, and buying houses or renting apartments, should they so desire. Workers are paid with realistic looking Spanish paychecks, and students oftentimes tip their peers for a job well done. Thanks to all residents for bringing the word p-u-e-b-l-o to life.|
|2||This term, students in fourth grade chose new animal passwords; reviewed gerunds and incorporated them into el pueblo (e.g., trabajando/ working); settled into a routine to determine who works where each week; read and presented dialogues, and then integrated these written dialogues into the pueblo simulation; dived into challenging translation exercises (English to Spanish, which is generally more difficult than Spanish to English); and discussed Spanish accentuation. Fourth graders also composed letters to their pen-pals in Oaxaca, Mexico. After writing rough and final drafts in the target language, students decorated their papers with patterned designs, colorful feathers and ribbons, little pom-poms, and other fun do-dads. Some even attached tiny gifts for their new friends. Gracias for another great quarter.|
|3||This term, students in fourth grade took some time to deconstruct the Spanish structures that they already know. This was accomplished primarily via ‘wall word searches’. That is, fourth graders had to first find the relevant signs on the walls of the Spanish Cave, and then piece together the answers for a variety of translation exercises. The two class sections also had a friendly competition, in which students became word detectives, pouring through both translated and culturally authentic texts, searching for (and later recording) as many words and phrases as possible that they recognized in the target language. |
Fourth graders also focused on deciphering the difference between “Voy a hablar/I’m going to talk” and “Estoy hablando/I’m talking”; wrote back to their pen-pals in Mexico, and glued candy hearts with Spanish words onto the letters—e.g., AMIGO/friend; and worked on two short class plays. The first play was a formal meeting with an unexpected visitor, while the second was more mystery-themed (the aftermath of a toy store robbery). Finally, fourth graders made Spanish fortune tellers, or comecocos, to practice uncommon color shades for the outside flaps (primrose/prímula), and the challenging phrase, “Voy a ir” (I’m going to go), for the inside flaps. Gracias for another great term.
|4||This term, students in fourth grade learned of a new dramatic development in el pueblo: A natural disaster had struck. While they no longer had bank accounts, housing, or any physical possessions aside from the clothes on their backs, fourth graders did have… a [faux] Twitter account to vent their frustrations in the target language. Following the initial shock, students were led through a string of real-life possibilities and emotions: Desperation, violence (i.e., a paper-ball Dodgeball war, err, game), the need to emigrate, passing through ‘customs’, Red Cross donations, et al. When students recognized the necessity of emigration, they were shown numerous photos of Spain and Argentina, and then voted on where they wanted their new pueblo to be located. |
Both classes chose Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, and very ironically, were able to connect their simulated experience of a natural disaster in the pueblo to an actual natural disaster in the world: The flooding in Argentina over Spring Break. Starting from the ground up, fourth graders found part-time work in a local library, and eventually moved up the corporate ladder to their dream job (masseuses, lawyers, veterinarians, etc.). Later, students learned about and were able to sample the national tea (and very popular ‘friendship’ drink) of Argentina: Yerba Mate. Gracias for an incredible year.