|K||This term, students in kindergarten circled back to the class stories from the beginning of the year, but this time, focused on incorporating student actors and actresses into the plots. The quarter’s most exciting story stretched itself out over the course of several classes: as our rubber-duck protagonist finds himself face-to-face with a giant knight in shining armor, he must think quickly to devise a plan of escape. How about hiding out in his very own house? In theory, this was an ingenious idea, but in practice, he found his house—aka an empty box—already inhabited by kindergarteners… who refused to let Señor Bearington/Paddington in when he knocked! Eventually, a compromise was reached: the ‘house’ was flipped upside down and transformed into a boat, whose skipper invited the duck-fugitive aboard. |
Amidst background waves crashing against the sides of the ship (www.noisli.com), the Uruguayan flag waving back and forth, and a determined teacher dragging the box-turned-boat across the room (with kindergartener and Señor Bearington/Paddington inside), the characters finally arrived on the coast of Uruguay. Phew! Later on, students the Rompe Ralph and Pollito pío songs; heard a new song in honor of the baby chicks that lived in their regular classroom (Los pollitos dicen pío pío pío); read the book Crow and Hawk; and practiced reading and writing Spanish sight words for their Play Day options. Gracias for a terrific year.
|1||This term, students in first grade decided as a class either to listen to (escuchar) their peers express their preferred activity for the day, or write (escribir) down their ideas on the miniature whiteboards. Students focused on including their reasons for wanting to do an activity—“Porque es mi amigo(a); porque es amable; porque me gusta” (because s/he is my friend; because s/he is kind; because I like it), and then traveled to their centers. Some like to stick with the same-old, same-old, while others rotate stations weekly or choose rather arbitrarily. Regardless, it is fascinating to see where their creative minds take them. From scary monstruos/monsters hiding out in their cuevas/caves and piano players insistent on turning up the keyboard’s volume, to emoticon drawings, buried treasure and a class bank (banco/bank; comida/food), first graders clearly work best when playing. |
Students also began incorporating the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map into their free play—knights invading Bolivia, a rubber duck boda/wedding in España/Spain, a gigantic tower of cajas/boxes in Brazil, etc. Finally, first graders read Corre, perro, corre; listened to La Invitación; and worked on two free play projects that extended beyond one class period: a formal wedding ceremony with invitations, dress-up clothes, and more (Huck); and the construction of an enormous fort made of boxes and blankets, with accompanying Japanese ninja music playing in the background (Ranallo).
|2||This term, second graders transitioned to a storytelling unit, where student-created characters and culturally authentic settings created a unique blend of fiction and non-fiction. Plot: Bobby/Shù the grasshopper/saltamontes is flying in his paper airplane [or: surfing on his surfboard], when a sudden and violent thunderstorm causes him to crash off the coast of Brazil. Most unfortunately, he lands in a ‘no-parking/estacionamiento prohibido’ zone in the backyard of a gigantic butterfly who, up until the crash, had been sleeping quite peacefully. The blast jolts him awake and naturally initiates a few karate battles between the two insects. In fugitive-mode, our protagonist hightails it to La Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) archipelago off of Chile and Argentina, and then Monte Fitz Roy (Fitz Roy Mountain) in Argentina. At some point, he also disappears into a Time Machine Void to visit the dinosaurs. Oh no! |
Second graders had fun traveling around the globe [virtually] to check out the weather forecast in these places as well as other locations (chubascos/downpours; tormentas/storms; nublado/cloudy). Later on, students inspected real Argentine pesos and tried to wrap their brains around why money is worth different amounts in different countries; discussed military time; saw a video of a recent volcanic eruption in Chile (Calbuco); repeatedly listened to the songs Madre Tierra and ¿Adónde vas?; and played Policías y ladrones outside. Gracias for a fabulous year.
|3||This term, students in third grade spent the first half of the quarter creating their last class story of the year. Plot (Petersheim): Wilbur the Pig lives in Mexico. Student X lives in a mansion in Spain (La Alhambra) and is very rich because he is a famous soccer player/futbolista. Student X is in possession of a magical necklace that Wilbur wants. In front of the mansion, however, are four knights/caballeros. Wilbur decides to ask his friends for help to get past the knights guarding the mansion. |
As a result, Pato sneezes on the first knight, causing him to leave to get a tissue. Bob, the second knight, is invisible and asleep, and therefore not too much of a concern. The third knight loves squirrels/ardillas, so when an audience member shouts, “Look! A squirrel!” he enthusiastically chases after it. The fourth knight slips on a banana peel that a nearby monkey places in front of him… and voilà: the line of defense no longer seems so intimidating.
In addition to storytelling, third graders made flag booklets, and were encouraged to collect stickers or tags on fruits, vegetables, and articles of clothing from Spanish-speaking countries (imports/exports). Later on, students learned more about La Alhambra, and then built a replica of the fortaleza/fort out of cardboard boxes and tables and colored in Moorish tiles with beautifully intricate geometric designs and patterns. Finally, they listened to Hai Kur Mamashu Shis (Yagan/English) and Tour the World (geography RSA animate video).
|4||This term, students in fourth grade extended their understanding of the word ‘pueblo’: the town does not only exist within the four walls of the Spanish Cave, but also beyond it… and thus a parque/park was borne. This outing begins with a class conversation: “¿Qué queremos? Queremos ir a jugar al fútbol en el parque” (What do we want? We want to go play soccer at the park). Later, fourth graders request relevant vocabulary; the doctoras/doctors and enfermera/nurse pack up their medical bags in case of an emergency; and students head out to play with a Guatemalan saying on their minds, “Ganamos, perdimos, igual nos divertimos” (we win or we lose, either way we have fun). |
Partway through the game, there is a ‘half-time show’, where a talented gymnast performs complicated flips, round-offs, and cartwheels for the class; and when it is time to go, they form two lines/filas and say, “Buen partido/good game”. Later on, students saw photos from my trip to Iguazú Falls (Cataratas de Iguazú) in Argentina; discussed what Spanglish is; and had a game week in the target language (Spanish Monopoly, rompecabezas/puzzles, La Guerra/War [card game], Spot It, and Bingo). Prior to catching a flight back to their hometown, fourth graders took a day to learn about and taste the traditional friendship drink and famous tea of Argentina, called Yerba Mate. Hasta la próxima (until next time), citizens of Ijusthaditville, España. Gracias for a beautiful year.
|5||This term, students in fifth grade continued practicing for the Latin American Showcase. They also worked on brainstorming creative costume ideas, gathering items for their prop boxes, and editing the PowerPoint slideshows. Eventually, it was time: fifth graders wrapped up the final details for their program, and then performed the much anticipated theatrical debut. Students should be immensely proud of their dedication, grit, and linguistic and theatrical skills. As a result of all of their hard work, the show was a tremendous success. Congratulations!! The remainder of the quarter was divided between two main foci: grammar and soccer. Essentially, the former is taking all of the linguistic knowledge they have, and dividing it into categories—“Oh, so those are verbs/nouns/adjectives in Spanish.” |
Fifth graders let this new information digest out on the soccer field. Some days, however, students’ strong interest in linguistics superseded their desire to play: cue ensuing discussions regarding the intricacies of translation. For example: “Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos” means “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but literally translates to, “Faces we see, hearts we don’t know”. Moreover, in order to make Dr. Seuss’ books rhyme, translators worked for an entire year translating the text—yikes! Machines can’t necessarily read between the lines, hence why some of my friends still have jobs (~as translators and interpreters). Gracias for a highly productive year.