Newsletter 15-16, Year (4)

Quarter 1: This term, students in fourth grade excitedly delved into the task of creating their own pueblo/town. 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. Gracias for a great quarter.

Quarter 2: This term, students in fourth grade began opening new businesses in the pueblo/town. For example, there are a few street musicians who play on the classroom keyboard and earn their living from passers-by; students who buy tickets to watch Sr. Wooly videos at the town movie theater; and customers who frequent the Italian Restaurant on a regular basis. Fourth graders also spent some time away from the town to learn about street markets/mercados in South America as well as the importance and multi-faceted roles of street art in Argentina (e.g., graffiti, murals, political statements, etc.). Later, they worked on written translations as mental warm-up exercises for the beginning of class routine, and then created their own authentic mercado.

Quarters 3 & 4: This semester, students in fourth grade divided their time between working in the town and getting a healthy dose of grammar. In the latter, fourth graders ‘leveled up’ from one written translation to another, deepening their understanding of and making connections between Spanish etymologies and general syntax. After grasping the overarching idea (of both verb conjugations and nonliteral translations), students created their own quizzes to test one another, and then worked to apply this newfound knowledge in meaningful contexts. For example—in addition to the town simulation—they also rehearsed and presented (partner) stories with puppets, and invented their own class story about a bear named Jellybean who lives on Mars. Additionally, fourth graders talked about exchange rates and other currencies; learned about Cinco de Mayo; and wrapped up the year with a focus on how to ask questions in the target language. Gracias for a fabulous year.

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