|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 magia/magic on the SMART board (the rubber-duck witches/brujas took full responsibility), to disappearing and reappearing fantasmas/ghosts, to a scary dragon who kept threatening our hero Pato with updates on the state of his voracious appetite, to a spinning disco ball with colorful lights that created exciting shadow effects on the auditorium ceiling and make the oscuridad/darkness not so terrifying, to a treasure map that led to a box filled with balloons, to a REAL egg whose fate was to be smashed, to 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.
In addition to storytelling, kindergarteners also played Roca-papel-tijeras (Rock-paper-scissors) in the target language, watched the theme song video from Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph), and read a special book for Halloween: Bruja, bruja ven a mi fiesta/Witch, Witch, Come to My Party. 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, although the two oftentimes overlapped and blended into one. For example, once Pato mentioned that he would like to visit the piñata hanging from the eighteen-foot ceiling in the Spanish Cave. But what could he use as a mode of transportation? The class decided on an avión de papel/paper airplane, and after making one for their friend, joined in on the fun themselves and made their own models. Another day, he couldn’t get his beak out of a book, rather, novel—Don Quijote (the 900-page, 400+ year-old Spanish literary masterpiece)—and students pestered him to share the story. |
As a result, the Spanish Cave transformed into a stage where student actors and actresses had fun acting out the famous windmill chapter with Don Quijote, Sancho Panza and, of course, the windmills. As the first quarter winds to a close, students have become confident with both writing and explaining what they want to do each day (Quiero colorear/jugar/construir/pintar/dibujar/ir afuera/ver; I want to color/play/build [with Legos]/paint/draw/go outside/see [a video]), and also reading the daily letter from Pato. In addition to the stories and activity centers, first graders also watched a silly song called “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?), and practiced lining up backwards in number order.
|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: ¡No puedes hacer eso!” (You can’t do that!). Second graders also played the “¿Qué haces?” (What are you doing?) class game from last year; learned how to say “I love/I’m lovin’ it” or “I don’t love/I’m not lovin’ it” via the McDonald’s tune in Spanish: (No) me encanta ♫; rehearsed a mini-play in the target language; played a hot/cold type of game called “Busca el murciélago” (Look for the bat), to integrate with their regular classroom bat study; learned about accent marks in Spanish; worked on experiencing pure boredom in order to associate the emotion with the word ‘aburrido(a)’; and wrote out what they wanted to do on their miniature whiteboards, commenting on each other’s ideas in Spanish. |
Additionally, students made a cultural analogy—Ohio:football::Argentina:Tango—and saw photos of an Argentine milonga band, heard the song La cumparsita to give them a sense of what Tango music sounds like, discussed the differences between Tango and Salsa, and then used all of their muscles to maintain good posture and take their first steps… T-A-N-G-O (American style Tango basic). Gracias for a great quarter.
|3||This term, students in third grade discussed how ‘language is a sport for your mouth’, as phonetics is a major part of the third grade curriculum. Students then worked on memorizing several tongue twisters in Spanish so as to over-exaggerate the mouth-moving process: Pito, pito colorito; Pepe Pecas; A-E-I-O-U, el burro sabe más que tú (the donkey knows more than you); otorrinolaringólogo/ENT doctor; Q-U-E-S-O, or ¿Qué es eso? ¡Eso es queso! (What is that? That is cheese!); and ¿Qué te pasa, calabaza? Nada, nada limonada (What’s up with you, pumpkin? Nothing, nothing lemonade). Third graders earned a class reward for all of their hard work—to make a donkey piñata in class. |
Later, and as part of an ongoing conversation unit, they worked on asking and answering two basic questions in the target language: ¿Qué quieres hacer?/What do you want to do?; Quisiera jugar…/I would like to play…; ¿Qué haces?/What are you doing?; Estoy jugando/I’m playing. Finally, students practiced their lines in a Spanish mini-play; watched several videos from the Señor Wooly site as a Halloween treat (El banco, Las excusas, and ¡PAN!); and began a storytelling unit about Pato el actor famoso/Pato the Famous Actor and an evil flower/flor malvada. Third graders had fun responding dramatically to certain key phrases in the story. 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 hailing a taxi to the airport, showing their boarding passes and boarding the plane, fourth graders sat back and relaxed, enjoyed beverages, and chatted until landing. As they officially stepped into their town for the first time—Ijusthaditville, España—the actual simulation commenced, and students signed a Language Pledge, promising to use solely the target language in the Spanish Cave. After establishing bank accounts, buying their own mansions and designing the interior of their homes, fourth graders began looking for work and creating their own businesses. |
A typical day consists of students striving to use the language in a variety of meaningful contexts and situations. As a result, the learning environment tends to be more boisterous than not, but in a lively, jovial sort of way, where fourth graders spend their time traveling to the bank, taking out money, working at the local shops, buying, selling, bargaining, trading, and occasionally employing ‘frantic gesturing’ when they find themselves unable to recall vocabulary or simplify an idea. In addition to the town, fourth graders also took an ‘English day’ in order to integrate with their regular classroom curriculum, and talked about words in other languages that are untranslatable…
|5||This term, students in fifth grade spent the bulk of their time on creative storytelling in preparation for the student-written Spanish plays performed at the Latin American Showcase (May 15, 2015 @1:30pm). Inspired by Argentine animals, abstract paintings, fuzzy photographs, troll-goblin statues and more, the stories evolve through question and answer type discussions and cannot help but grow a life of their own. |
As a result, characters such as Betsy la vaca (Betsy the Cow) and Boberto la berenjena genial (Bobert the Awesome Eggplant—who is actually a coatí) are wildly popular among students, and have gone on some crazy adventures involving one-thousand angry fruits, the International House of Thumbs, a golden plunger, a magical pink cape, and an army of chicken-soldiers, to name a few. Additionally, and in-between chapters, fifth graders also chose to be embajadores/ambassadors of a [specific] Spanish-speaking country; presented their own original stories in Spanish to the class; and traveled outside to play fútbol/soccer to work on instinctually responding in the target language. Gracias for a great quarter!