|K||This term, students in kindergarten continued learning the names of all of the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map. However, because Pato insisted on teaching, there were constant wordplays and distractions. For example, after tasting a [plastic] pear in Perú, he decides that he doesn’t like it, exclaiming, “EKK! [wah-door]” (Ecuador), and then traveling through the door/puerta to the next country. Later, he meets a bee in “Colom-BEE-ah”, doesn’t know which way “Venez-WAY-lah” (Venezuela) is, and gets thirsty in Nicaragua (“knee-car-AGUA”). In the end, kindergarteners were teaching Pato… |
When they had mastered the bulk of the map, students transitioned to acting out their individualized password cards—“Hmm… how can I become a basket/cesto? A fort/fortaleza? A fairy/hada?”—and enjoyed ‘stopping’ in the country of their choice when it was time to change action commands. In-between the numerous snow and cold days, they also learned a song about ten little fish/diez pececitos; read Los hechizos de Chela La Lela (Batty Betty’s Spells); played Spanish Bingo; watched Pocoyó: El gran tobogán/Pocoyó: Loula huele mal; and elected either to play/jugar or color/colorear on activity days (juguetes/toys, peluches/stuffed animals; papel/paper, marcadores/markers, crayones/crayons). Gracias for another memorable quarter.
|1||This term, students in first grade continued learning through the ‘continuously evolving’ activity centers. First graders focused on honing their writing skills—e.g., not looking at the bilingual signs to spell a word in the target language (tarjetas/cards)—and building their vocabularies. Words take on a new level and layer of importance when they are acquired in a meaningful context, and so while some are learning ‘caballero’ (knight), others are learning ‘cinta’ (tape), depending on their interests. When the caballero-student decides to, quite literally, connect two knights in shining armor with tape, s/he learns from the cinta-student. |
During this process, first graders are frequently subjected to unanticipated follow-up questions, to work on linguistic spontaneity. For example, “¿Qué quieres construir? ¿Por qué? ¿Qué haces?” (What do you want to build? Why? What are you doing?). While students begin the year with a very basic Q&A in the target language, this conversation grows, builds and continuously spirals throughout the months so that by the beginning of April, students feel confident with a variety of questions and answers. In-between snow/cold days, they also practiced naming the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map in the Spanish Cave; made Mi libro password booklets; and read La Mariposa by Francisco Jiménez. From “Creative Crafts”, stickers, and colored paper, to rubber ducks, tire swings, and scaly crocodiles, it has been a fun quarter!
|2||This term, students in second grade were given a certain radical freedom—to choose any word in the universe as their new password. The results were impressive and not always literal. For example, one student choose, “Something” (algo) so as to cleverly include everything, while another decided on something more concrete but rather ephemeral: “Fireworks” (fuegos artificiales). Later, and as a creative thinking exercise, students tried to ‘become’ these words in their action commands. For the password, “pollo polaco” (Polish chicken), second graders clucked the Polish word for chicken [kurczak] as they strutted around the Spanish Cave. |
After practicing naming the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map, students were assigned a country in which to park themselves after each action, and had twelve syllables—estacionamiento prohibido—to get there. No one else was allowed to park in their space, rather, country, hence the translation, ‘No parking’. In-between snow/cold days, second graders also worked on reading a class script, (an extension of their mini-dialogues from the second quarter); learned about the concept of ‘Spanglish’; discussed the differences between translation (written) and interpretation (spoken); tried their hand at pronouncing a mouthful of syllables: La República Dominicana/The Dominican Republic (‘lah ray-POO-blee-kah-doe-me-knee-kah-nah’); and danced to the song Madre Tierra ♫ by Chayanne.
|3||This term, students in third grade accomplished a great deal. For starters, they finished their class story about Pato, a stuffed animal who became impatient with Señorita one day and decided to jump into a five-gallon bucket of real water when she wouldn’t stop talking on the phone. Next, third graders told a story not about Pato [gasp]. While the characters and locations varied from class to class, here is a general outline of the plot (Naso): One afternoon/una tarde, a mouse is eating cheese when an evil doctor grabs the cheese (una doctora malvada agarra el queso) and replaces it with mostaza/mustard. The doctor drives a red Mustang to his secret cave underneath the Eiffel Tower. By means of “the force”, or la fuerza, the cheese also arrives in the cave. Mientras/meanwhile, the mouse sneezes and laments his string of bad luck. |
Both classes had fun using ‘la fuerza’ to levitate a short table and later a ping-pong ball (with a hairdryer). Third graders also watched the song-video “¿Qué dice el zorro?” (What Does the Fox Say?); practiced answering the question, “¿Cómo te sientes?” (How do you feel?); completed several translation exercises, and then identified how those verbs and nouns related to their class stories (conjugation patterns; masculine/feminine nouns); jumped on and named the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map in the Spanish Cave; and finally, began researching one of these countries on the school iPads. Gracias for a terrific quarter!
|4||This term, students in fourth grade were required to think creatively when their beloved town was moved, well, across town (to the St. John building). Instead of relying on the same old, same old, fourth graders delved into the challenges of a relocated classroom, err, pueblo most audaciously—redesigning, revamping, and redecorating—for the purpose of improving upon their original ideas. Where should the panadería/bakery be located now? What about the Azkaban prison? How could vendors re-imagine the concept of a mercado from South and Central American countries to fit their own town? |
While this progression and conversation occurred quite naturally, it was also beautifully reflective of the creative thinking process: are students generating new ideas (divergent thinking)? Are they taking risks? Can they overcome and push past the mental obstacles of an idea that results in complete and utter failure? Did they synthesize their experience into a cogent, cohesive product (convergent thinking)? The creative thinking process manifested itself not only within the confines of the town expansion, but also in students’ linguistic development. Do students put language together in unusual and novel ways, beyond what the teacher has taught? Does the product work (was the message communicated effectively)? Welcome to a new era, the age of creative thinking! Fourth graders have hit the ground running; gracias for another magical quarter.
|5||This term, students in fifth grade began preparing for their Latin American Program. After familiarizing themselves with each of the six scripts, fifth graders were assigned permanent groups and plays. Since then, students have been working on using appropriate vocal intonation and expression; facing the audience and planning out where they want to stand on stage; adding relevant movements; brainstorming what type of music might be fitting for certain scenes; and memorizing their lines. |
They have had several combined classes, during which time groups present a previously selected and rehearsed scene, and their peers evaluate the performances [on a rubric], paying special attention to audience engagement. As the culminating program of their Lower School Spanish experience approaches, students’ excitement is on the rise; please come join us on Friday, May 15, 2015 @1:30pm in the Community Room.