|K||This term, students in kindergarten listened intently as their dear friend Pato took on more of a leadership role, for better or worse. His first idea for a project actually turned out quite well. One afternoon, he invented a game: after drawing a rectangle on a piece of paper, dividing the shape into columns and filling in the mini-rectangles with bold, vibrant shades, he stood up the corresponding markers on each narrow quadrilateral. A single spurt of water resulted in an impressive domino effect of the markers, and left an even more impressive design on the paper: smeared colors, lines, and water all mixed together. |
Later, kindergarteners had the opportunity to create their own beautiful marker/water patterns, and then cut out snowflakes from the dyed paper. His second idea—to learn the names and locations of Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map in the Spanish Cave—was successful for kindergarteners, but not necessarily for the highly unfocused [divergent thinker?!] duck. Chile? Well, it’s a good thing I’m wearing my warm Christmas sweater! Argentina? Arrr, I’m a pirate! No, Pato, in Spanish it’s pronounced ‘Ar-hen-TEE-nah’. A pirate (arr) and a chicken (hen) drinking tea (tee)? Cool! (Nah.) What about Uruguay? You mean the circle? I got an A+ on shapes in Math class: triángulo, círculo… Well, at least kindergarteners understand!
|1||This term, students in first grade began exploring the Spanish written word in greater depth. In addition to reading the daily letters from Pato and their own individualized password cards (aka sight words), they also wrote out their Activity Center wishes each day on the mini class whiteboards. This process involves all students requesting whiteboards (pizarrón, por favor), chatting with their neighbors—“¿Qué quieres hacer?” (What do you want to do?)—and then completing the sentence Quiero… [dibujar] pero necesito… [papel] (I want [to draw] but I need [paper]) at their own pace, while student helpers ask their peers what color marker they would like to write with. |
Sentences vary from day to day and week to week, which allows first graders to see the possibilities of linguistic versatility as well as get a lot of practice. To enforce the idea of ‘versatility’, students also made “Me gusta” (I like) collages with their favorite infinitives (jugar/to play, dormir/to sleep, etc.) and an excess of glitter sprinkled all around the page. Last but not least, they played Luz roja, luz verde (Red Light, Green Light) in the target language; asked one another what they wanted to do and recorded the information, survey-style; and worked on possessive articles (Lego station: ¡Mi caballo! My horse! Art station: ¡Mi papel! My paper!). Gracias for a great quarter.
|2||This term, students in second grade spent the bulk of their time reading, practicing, and later presenting humorous mini-dialogues in the target language. They worked on adding expression (‘talk with your hands!’) and vocal inflection so as to better understand the emotion behind the words. Here is a sample script: Estoy aburrido(a)./¿Quieres comer un tomate?/No, gracias./¿Quieres comer cinco tomates?/No me gustan los tomates./¿Quieres comer mil tomates?/¡Te dije que no! (I’m bored/Do you want to eat a tomato?/No thanks./Do you want to eat five tomatoes?/I don’t like tomatoes./Do you want to eat one-thousand tomatoes?/I told you no!). The last line is from the Sr. Wooly song, ¡PAN! (BREAD!), and is pronounced: ‘tay-DEE-hay-k-no’. |
Second graders had fun pretending to be frogs and jumping on every syllable to practice the tricky phonetic combination. Additionally, students made comecocos, or fortune tellers; taught Pato how to sound out words in Spanish (a rather exigent task, considering his general inability to focus on anything relevant); learned how to dance the Merengue in a circle with their peers, while shaking a pair of authentic maracas from the Dominican Republic (aka place of origin of the Merengue); and had fun jamming to a few of their favorite songs (Colores, colores; Botas perdidas; Billy la bufanda).
|3||This term, students in third grade continued developing their class stories. Plot: Pato is flying to the torre/tower in either Romania (Petersheim) or Croatia (Naso) in order to rescue his kidnapped stuffed animal Patito from la flor malvada/the Evil Flower. Unfortunately and en route, his avión/airplane crash-lands in the mar negro/Black Sea (Petersheim) or the mar mediterráneo/Mediterranean Sea (Naso). In said body of water, Pato sees a multitude of sea creatures (estrellas de mar/starfish, medusa/jellyfish, etc.) and a yellow submarine, or submarino amarillo ♫. In one class (Petersheim), the submarine was not a threat to Pato; in the other (Naso), it was… uh-oh! Later on, third graders used some of this common pool of [story] vocabulary to create their own original comic strips. |
The final drafts were laminated for students to take home. Additionally, they listened to the catchy song Botas perdidas (Lost Boots) from last year; took some time to dance the Merengue in a circle with their peers (Bailar el ritmo vuelta), and compared and contrasted it with both the Salsa and Tango; and tried dulce de leche, a well-known milk caramel type of spread from South America. As a tangential conversation, students also learned about La Copa Mundial/World Cup and what the celebrations were like in Argentina this summer (non-stop horns for 24 hours straight!).
|4||This term, students in fourth grade chose new [fruit and vegetable] identities as part of the pueblo/town simulation, with the understanding that their English name and person ‘no longer exist’ in the Spanish Cave. In addition, fourth graders have also begun opening new businesses. Now, for example, there are a few street musicians who play on the classroom keyboard and earn their living from passers-by (propinas/tips); students who buy tickets to watch Sr. Wooly videos at the town cine/movie theater; and generous customers who allow the party shop to thrive financially. |
However, a few strange developments have made life anything but normal: increasing tension relating to the overtly amorous conversations between a girl and her novio/boyfriend, Diego (¡Mi amor!/My love!), led several town residents to the brink of insanity. It was therefore incumbent upon those affected to visit the town doctor(a)/doctor for some much-needed terapia/therapy. The rabid raccoon (mapache rabioso) that escaped from the zoo also spent some time in a group treatment center. The most effective cure? Un abrazo/a hug. Students—rather, citizens—refocused their attention amidst the unanticipated chaos with a call-response echo: ¿Qué queremos?/¡Queremos trabajar! (What do we want? We want to work!). Gracias for another memorable quarter.
|5||This term, students in fifth grade advanced to Creative Class Storytelling 2.0, as the following plots clearly illustrate. Hunt: After the evil team steals the Sr. Wooly password, Sr. Wooly drives a lagoon blue Beetle car to his great-grandmother’s house and tries to call the police. However, another evil force—a group of Teletubbies whose leader happens to be Peppa Pig—has taken control of the police station. The evil Teletubbies travel through the vortex part of their máquina/machine to the planet Neptune. There, they see an enormous, spicy pepper who wants to eat them. The pepper succeeds, but then the seeds in his brain instruct him to jump and, well, the contents of his stomach are emptied. ¡Qué asco!/Gross! |
Byerley: As it turns out, the pollito-soldados (chicken-soldiers) are actually evil and try to kidnap Uni-maíz-io (lead singer of the band, “Dirección Equivocada”/Wrong Direction). Boberto saves her, though, so then the chicken-soldiers get angry and brainstorm another plan: this time, with a machine and their evil force/fuerza malvada, they bring Uni-maíz-io to the dark side. As Uni-maíz-io is trapped in the dark side, Boberto obviously needs to save his future wife, so his shouts, “¡Mi amor!” (My love!) in her direction. The power of true love rompe/breaks the dark side’s evil force, Boberto proposes again, and this time Uni-maíz-io says yes. Awww.