|K||This term, students in kindergarten continued creating wildly imaginative stories. However, instead of just passively listening to the comprehensible input, they began playing a more active role in the plots. For instance, in one adventure, the suspense of a crocodile on the point of devouring Pato led to a tangential activity, where students had fun simultaneously opening and closing hard cover books at different speeds, mimicking the scary jawbone action (abre/open; cierra/close). The consequent delay of his demise allows our beloved stuffed animal to discover a treasure chest full of balloons, and as a result, proudly parade around with a green bag of air—until he chances upon a box of thumbtacks. |
He is wisely advised by the anxious kindergarteners to not touch, but in the end, curiosity kills the source of entertainment. Students also drew out the sequence of events in La casa adormecida/The Napping House; played a detective hide-and-seek game; traveled outside to the playground, shouting, “¡Tobogán!” as they slid down the slide; and [repeatedly] listened to the theme song from Wreck-It Ralph, ¿Cuándo te volveré a ver? (When Will I See You Again?), after Pato decides to head south and escape the polar vortices. Finally, kindergarteners had several activity days, in which they could either jugar/play or colorear/color. Gracias for another brilliant quarter!
|1||This term, students in first grade continued adding and expanding upon their various activity centers. For example, one week first graders built structures out of Legos and/or popsicle sticks, and the following week, they deepened their understanding of ‘construir’ (build) by molding and later painting various structures out of air-dry clay. Partway through the quarter, first graders practiced using their new ‘connecting’ words to combine activities—y/and; con/with—and either read, wrote, or voiced their preferences aloud. |
Many students seemed to appreciate the official nature of submitting what they wanted to do in written form (e.g., “Quiero jugar con mi amigo Fred/I want to play with my friend Fred). In addition, they also chose new professions passwords to integrate with their regular classroom; read the daily letters from Pato and the book, El artista que pintó un caballo azul (The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse); discussed the difference between amigo and amiga; made postre/dessert collages to practice asking for materials; played Spanish Bingo and Roca-papel-tijeras/Rock-paper-scissors in the target language; and were introduced to the witty ‘class conversation’ games that will reappear throughout the remainder of the year.
|2||This term, students in second grade continued practicing the basic steps to the Salsa and Tango. When second graders felt confident, they presented this knowledge, as well as a Spanish mini-play, in front of an audience (Wintersteller: Upper School Spanish I class; Lipowski: Lower School Assembly). Subsequently, students continued hearing about The Great Adventures of Pato and teaching their friend that puedo (I can) and PlayDoh are not the same word. And then one day… Pato vanished. A week later, students read in a handwritten postcard that their beloved protagonist had flown south of the equator, to Argentina, in order to escape the polar vortices and drab, hoary landscape of winter in Ohio. |
In his absence, second graders took some time to get a feel for the South American country, looking at pictures of the famous Iguazú Falls (waterfalls) and typical Argentine foods (beef!), and listening to Argentine Tango music. In addition, they made and then colored ‘talking-bookmarks’ of either Don Quijote or an Aztec warrior; listened to Mayan, Náhuatl, and Quechua tunes (indigenous languages); watched the movie Wreck-It Ralph/Rompe Ralph in the target language (Spanish voiceover with English subtitles); and sang along with two very catchy Señor Wooly songs: “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?), and “¡PAN!” (BREAD!).
|3||This term, students in third grade had fun studying the metamorphosis of shapes that the mouth undergoes when pronouncing Spanish vowels. After trying to enunciate a few lengthy but vowel-rich words—such as electroencefalografista—students tried their hand at an even more challenging rhyme (A, E, I, O, U, ¡el burro sabe más que tú!/A, E, I, O, U, the donkey knows more than you!). When the sounds began to mush together, third graders just laughed, content with their theoretical understanding of Spanish phonetics. Students also rehearsed and presented several humorous dialogues, which led one afternoon to a tangential discussion about the term Spanglish. |
For whatever reason, third graders became fascinated with the idea of mixing languages, so much so that they insisted on [repeatedly] practicing the lines of their class mini-play in English, Spanish, and Spanglish. When they were not engrossed in a world of meta-linguistics, students reviewed passwords from previous years (e.g., animals, foods, months of the year); ‘passed notes’ to their neighbors to practice their writing skills; created a Class Wordle of all the words they know in the target language; read ¿Quién está durmiendo? (Who Is Sleeping?); and learned about La Tomatilla, a huge tomato fight and tradition that takes place in Spain every August. Gracias for another brilliant quarter!
|4||This term, students in fourth grade received letters and photos from their pen-pals in Oaxaca, Mexico; chose new Spanish identities, with the understanding that their English name and person ‘no longer exist’ in the Spanish Cave; tried their hand at several translation exercises; sang along with the overly dramatic Sr. Wooly video, ¿Adónde vas? (Where are you going?); and, of course, continued with their pueblo simulation. In addition to the usual browsing, buying, selling and even trading, several instances of corruption were also witnessed; members of the police department were allowing prisoners—i.e., thieves sent to la cárcel/jail for petty crimes—to escape in exchange for [plastic green] money. |
Such blatant injustices and brazen disrespect of the law led to a ban on all criminal activities. Later, students refocused their attention with a call-response echo in the target language: ¿Qué queremos?/¡Queremos trabajar! (What do we want? We want to work!). Other town updates as follows. Epicville: Students have created an Apple Store, where they sell technological gadgets and devices to their peers, such as handmade laptops and teléfonos inteligentes/SMART phones. Marlow Mayhem: Students have added a cine/movie theater, where they sell tickets to anyone and everyone who would like to watch a show. Gracias for another exciting quarter.
|5||This term, students in fifth grade spent a good deal of time recycling and reviving vocabulary from years past. Whether it was through creative short stories (both spoken and written), Señor Wooly song-lyric videogame challenges, Class Wordles, animal password cards, daily online weather forecasts (comparing temperatures in other ciudades/cities and países/countries), songs-that-get-stuck-in-your-head-and-don’t-leave (Botas perdidas/Lost Boots), class plays, or translation exercises on their miniature whiteboards, fifth graders had fun combining old and new information. |
They also had a few class discussions about meta-linguistics, and tried to define “Language” itself—not an easy task. Later, students used their detective skills to identify and label twelve paragraphs written in different languages and alphabets. Last but not least, fifth graders chose new identities (or Spanish names) for the New Year, and began discussing the presentation format of their Latin American Festival program, scheduled for the beginning of May. Mark your calendars!