|K||This term, students in kindergarten let their imaginations run wild. Straightforward, one-dimensional stories evolved into highly complex sagas, growing longer and more complicated from one week to the next. A new week merely indicated a new chapter. |
From a loud alarm clock brriiiiing that catapulted Pato across the Spanish Cave, to disappearing ink on the SMART board, to rubber duck witches materializing out of thin air, to an evil bat-ghost kidnapping a flower and bringing her to a tower in a faraway land (and, of course, the quest to rescue said flower), to Pato conquering his fear of heights and fear of the dark, to a short video about castañuelas/ castanets, to hungry dragons, parachute fun, leaf collecting, Shadow Tag, and a cluster of grapes that turned out to be a bottle of purple paint—so that’s why Pato is sporting a purple beak these days…—the linguistic journey [clearly] never ceases to be original. Gracias for beginning the year on such a fast-paced and wonderfully creative note.
|1||This term, students in first grade alternated between Story Days and Activity Days. On the former, students tended to ask Pato was he was doing, and oftentimes he would invent a wild adventure (that coincidentally included Activity Day vocabulary). Once, though, he couldn’t get his beak out of a book, and students pestered him to share the story. Because it was either that or a time-out from Señorita, Pato began to relate the adventures of his hero, Don Quijote de La Mancha, to first graders. He started with the renowned windmill chapter, and conveniently, students were able to make connections with the windmills in this novel and the windmill in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. |
The class so enjoyed hearing about the Spanish literary masterpiece, that from that point forward, Pato focused all of his energy on the book. Students also translated the daily message; played Luz roja, luz verde outside; read two books in the target language; and practiced answering the question, “¿Qué quieres hacer?” (What do you want to do?), on Activity Days, with one of four choices: Quiero jugar/I want to play; Quiero dibujar/I want to draw; Quiero ir/I want to go; or Quiero pintar/I want to paint. Gracias for a fun-filled start to the year.
|2||This term, students in second grade had fun learning about The Adventures of Pato—one of the most mischievous stuffed animals in the Spanish Cave. When necessary, they also helped discipline the sometimes quite rebellious and stubborn duck. One day, second graders watched as Pato created an enormous mess of toys, and then decided that he wanted to play with his stuffed animal friends instead. When he later asked to play, the class responded, “Pues, déjame ver… ¡no, no puedes!” (Well, let me see… no, you can’t!). |
Because he claimed he had to read the answer in order to understand it, the class spelled it phonetically on the board—“p(ways), day-hah-may-bear”. Naturally, his response was not to clean up his toys but rather, “A BEAR! Oh no! Run, everyone, run!” When they weren’t putting him in a time-out or teaching Pato to read, students learned about the Spanish literary masterpiece, Don Quijote; talked about el and la words in the target language; played a game called “Busca el murciélago” (Look for the bat); decorated a house and car for Pato; practiced reading action words on the board; rehearsed their lines in a Spanish play; and learned the basic step to two Spanish dances, the Salsa and the Tango. Gracias for a great first quarter.
|3||This term, students in third grade practiced a new routine to begin class (Luces, cámara, acción, redoble por favor/Lights, camera, action, drum roll please); learned three tongue twisters (Pito, pito colorito; Pepe Pecas; Q-U-E-S-O/cheese); and worked on pronouncing a very long word in the target language: Otorrinolaringólogo/ENT doctor. Third graders also made comecocos, or fortune tellers, and later created flip cards that said, “¡Estoy jugando!/I’m playing” on one side and “¡No me molestes!/Don’t bother me!” on the other. After verbally answering the question, “¿Qué quieres hacer?/What do you want to do?”, they proceeded with the activity of their choice (e.g., jugar/play, pintar/paint). |
Within a matter of seconds, however, they were ‘interrupted’ by the teacher, who asked repeatedly and nonstop, “¿Qué haces?/Whatcha doin’?”, until said student answered the question aloud. Students pushed this comparative investigation of infinitives and gerunds even further via Play Days and translation exercises. Because third graders referenced the walls of the Spanish Cave when they got stuck, the latter seemed tantamount to being literally inside a word search. They wrapped up the quarter with several songs, new and old—Yo me llamo, El banco, Botas perdidas—and last but not least, chose Spanish names. Gracias for a great start to the year!
|4||This term, students in fourth grade excitedly delved into the task of creating their own pueblo/town. After establishing bank accounts and buying their own mansions, the actual simulation commenced. A typical day in either Epicville (Papageorge) or Marlow Mayhem (Marlow) begins with workers being dismissed to their jobs. Businesses open at this point include the banco/bank, juguetería/toy store, tienda de arte/art store, and teatro/theater. Later, students travel around town, taking out money from the bank, buying what they need and want with realistic-looking euros, communicating solely in the target language, and occasionally employing ‘frantic gesturing’ when they find themselves unable to recall vocabulary or simplify an idea. |
It is amazing how innovative fourth graders become when they are desperate to express a thought. In addition to working and living in the pueblo, students also translated key words in their constellation poems from English to Spanish; signed a Language Pledge promising not to speak English within the walls of the Spanish Cave; tweeted their favorite movies; learned how to use the internet dictionary www.wordreference.com; wrote letters to their pen-pals in Oaxaca, Mexico; and worked on a “Class Wordle” of all the words they know in the target language. Gracias for a great start to the year!
|5||This term, students in fifth grade chose a class mascot to be the main character in their class stories. From this point, creativity took the reins… Hunt: A crazy scientist, aka Pocoyo, takes the pato-bailarín as his prisoner, but the dancing duck grabs the flag of Spain, knocks him down and escapes in a pink shoe to South Sandwich Islands. Byerley: Enemies of the beloved Snurkey (and the Butler) are established in the form of an evil team—Darth Vader, Turkal, Professor Coco-Mantequilla and Barney. One night, Snurkey is hungry while watching the Barney Show. He ends up entering the ‘pixeled void’ and eating Barney, thereby destroying one-quarter of his enemies. Still hungry (and presumably scared for his own personal safety), he escapes to the Arctic Circle. |
Fifth graders also selected a Spanish-speaking country to represent as ambassador/embajador(a); practiced identifying banderas/flags from the Spanish-speaking world; sang along with the bilingual song Wavin’ Flag—played at the 2010 World Cup—before traveling outside for Spanish soccer games (fútbol/soccer); had their first free-write of the year (with partners); and signed a Language Pledge promising not to speak English within the walls of the Spanish Cave. Gracias for an exciting start to the year!