Newsletter 15-16, Year (1)

Quarter 1: This term, students in first grade read and translated the daily letter from Pato, learning which ‘islas/islands’—[read: activity centers]—were open that day. First graders then submitted written requests expressing what they wanted to do. As a constantly changing mix of toys spark students’ imaginations, the archipelago comes alive with creativity and authentic linguistic exchanges between teacher and students. It should also be noted that they are all hard-core fans of the silly song, “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?). Gracias for a great quarter.

Quarter 2: This term, students in first grade continued submitting written requests expressing what they wanted to do and reasons to support their choice. First graders also spent time learning about the 900-page, 400-year-old Spanish literary masterpiece, Don Quijote, and had fun imagining and acting out various chapters. Later on, they identified a painting by Picasso based on the novel; chose individualized professions-passwords; constructed a model of Machu Picchu out of clay as a class (Peru); heard about La Tomatina, an annual, giant tomato fight in Spain; and listened to a hilarious chipmunks-voiceover of their class song, “¿Puedo ir al baño?”, as mimicking and dance choreography evolved quite naturally in response to the video. Gracias for another great quarter.

Quarters 3 & 4: This semester, students in first grade worked on understanding the difference between a statement and a question in Spanish (quiero/I want vs. ¿puedo?/ can I?), through context cues and punctuation. Later, they were given age-appropriate worksheets in the target language and, via use of logic, sight words, and teamwork, had to deduce the instructions themselves! Additionally, students composed both silly and serious sentences; chose food nicknames; tasted Mexican candies; made Me gusta/I like collages; learned a soccer chant from Spain; earned (fake) euros for cleaning the classroom (limpiar/to clean); built an impressive 3-D model of part of Chichen Itza out of colorful paper cubes, in an “assembly-line” type of factory (Mexico); and had fun playing Hangman and Spanish Bingo. First graders also increased their clean-up routine productivity by imagining the trashcans as “Monstruos de la basura” (Trash Monsters), and then feeding the ravenous creatures with papers and scraps at the end of class. Gracias for a fabulous year.