October/Trimester 1: This trimester, students in fourth grade began by celebrating La Tomatina, a famous tomato-throwing festival in Spain. To celebrate and reenact the day sans actual tomatoes, fourth graders made catapults out of Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and hot glue, and launched decorative, lightweight balls at G.I. Joe firemen and LEGO men figurines. Other cultural projects included ‘building’ the Andes Mountains out of blocks on the tape floor map (South America); tracing an inverted painting that is meant to change one’s perspective and question tradition (Uruguay); and decorating sugar skull cookies for El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead (Mexico).
Fourth graders also created and acted out several class stories. In one, a dramatic, slow motion, galactic force fight inside Taylor Swift’s jail cell ensued—with Kung Fu Fighting playing in the background—because Taylor would not hand over all of the tomatoes in the galaxy to the planetary kings and queens (la fuerza/the force). In another (4.B), a rocket ship with alien sisters on board crash-lands in the Atacama Desert (Chile); two groups of spies witness the crash and begin throwing lemons at the intruders; unexpectedly, the aliens love the sour flavor and graciously thank their attackers. Students built spy forts in the classroom to act this out and participated in official Spy Training. Fourth graders also practiced reading and writing sentences and mini-stories in the target language; jumped on and named the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map; played a highly addictive, “Guess the Language” online game (LingLang); and made connections between their project time topics (Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans) and Spanish class. Gracias for a great first trimester.
*Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras.
September: This month, students in fourth grade made copies of their animal password cards for the Summit hallway bulletin board; sang along to a silly video called, “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?); and took a trip down memory lane by watching Pocoyo: Invisible in the target language. They also jumped on and named certain Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map before they sat down each day: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. For their Summit mini culture project for Chile and Argentina, students “built” the Andes Mountains in three minutes with building blocks, and then watched as a “terrible mudslide” destroyed the mountain range—so that the next group could have a turn to build. For Uruguay, they traced a painting of a famous Uruguayan artist who wanted to define and identify Latin American art on his own terms, instead of in relation to North America and Europe; ultimately, the painting of an inverted map is about taking new perspectives and questioning tradition.
Fourth graders also continued their tomato saga, adding kings and queens of various planets (and even the galaxy!) to round out the story, and ended with a dramatic, slow motion, galactic force fight inside Taylor Swift’s jail cell—with Kung Fu Fighting playing in the background, of course. Taylor refused to hand over all of the tomatoes (todos los tomates), so really, there was no other option: “¡La fuerza!” (the force!). Since then, fourth graders have been working on a humorous script of their class story in Spanish—trying to memorize lines, coordinating words and movements onstage and, most importantly, making sure they know what they are saying!
August: This month, students in fourth grade learned about Spain’s famous tomato-throwing festival, La Tomatina, held the last Wednesday of August every year. To celebrate and reenact the day sans actual tomatoes, fourth graders made catapults out of Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and hot glue, and launched decorative, lightweight balls at G.I. Joe firemen and LEGO men figurines. Students also chose individualized password cards, and then practiced thinking up ways to physically act out each one as part of their beginning-of-class routine; responded to action commands; and worked on their class stories, which are interactive, teacher-asked but student-led creations in the target language.
Here, the main character is absolutely ravenous, and desires a plateful of juicy, red tomatoes; however, his foe (in one class, Taylor Swift) has eaten all of the tomatoes in the entire world. Thus, our hero must travel to Mars, the red planet, to get what he wants—and, presumably, battle Taylor for it, in a struggle not unlike La Tomatina, thereby spreading Spanish culture beyond this world (4.B). Last but not least, students learned that there are 21 Spanish-speaking countries and 400+ million Spanish speakers, but that Chinese is actually the most-spoken language in the world right now (English is number three behind Spanish). Gracias for a great month.