|PK||This month, students in PK continued experiencing the target language in context with more project days. For example, one week, they stretched the creative part of their brain by seeing what they could make with a single sheet of paper—no other materials allowed! Initial frustration—no scissors? no markers?!—turned into something beautiful by the end: from treasure maps and a shirt to telescopes, the letter “r” and a pizza, students’ imagination shined. Another week, they painted tiles for the Alhambra fort that other Lower School students had built for the Spanish room, and then had fun taking a “siesta” (nap) inside the cardboard construction.|
Pre-kindergarteners also practiced singing along with the Buenos días (good morning) song and answering the question, “¿Cómo estás?” (how are you?) with muy bien/very good, bien/good, mal/bad, or tengo sueño/I’m sleepy. Students kept track of who said what, and then counted how many of each response there were as a class (uno-dos-tres, etc.). They were encouraged to not spit out a series of numbers and instead focus on relating number values with individual digits.
While learning how to count to ten is valuable, it is more meaningful to understand that “tres” is “three”. In the culture realm, they heard the Legend of the Poinsettias (Mexico) for Christmas, and then ate twelve grapes to celebrate the New Year (tradition in Spain).
|K||This month, students in kindergarten continued with their free play unit, with a special focus on math in the target language. Here, class begins with a Buenos días (good morning) song and answering the question, “¿Cómo estás?” (how are you?) with muy bien/very good, bien/good, mal/bad, tengo sueño/I’m sleepy, tengo sed/I’m thirsty, tengo hambre/I’m hungry, or me duele/it hurts (~head, knee, etc.).|
Next, kindergarteners make a class bar graph of who wants to do what—colorear/color, jugar/play, pintar/paint, dormir/sleep, construir/build, or leer/read—and practice counting the votes (from cero/zero), working to isolate numbers and identify them out of sequence. Students note which is the tallest column, and sometimes even try to add all of them together to see the total. Granted, this number is slightly skewed and does not represent the number of students in class because they are allowed to choose more than one activity. Next, kindergarteners proceed to write their preferred sight word on the board before launching into said activity. Students heard Corre, perro, corre (Go, Dog, Go) over several classes as well (¿Te gusta mi sombrero?/Do you like my hat?; Sí me gusta/yes, I like it; No, no me gusta/no, I don’t like it).
Students also hum and sing along with Feliz Navidad, Rompe Ralph, and Para bailar la bamba playing in the background, many times without even realizing they are doing so! Please feel free to add these songs (links on my website) to your car playlist and see if your children notice, just for fun!
|1||This month, students in first grade began differentiating between “¿Qué quieres ser?” (What do you want to be?) and “¿Qué quieres hacer?” (What do you want to do?). This was actually an unintentional wordplay that grew out of the class activity of pretending to be príncipes/princes, princesas/princesses, reyes/kings, reinas/queens, unicornios/unicorns, futbolistas/soccer players, caballos/horses, perritos/puppies, and bufones/jestors from last month. As a result, “Quiero ser…” (I want to be) became the new rage; but phonetically, it was a challenge to hear the difference between ser (“s[air]”/to be) and hacer (“ah-s[air]”/to do). |
First graders alternated days writing and speaking in the target language, while continuing their map practice. The majority can now name fourteen of the twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries—bravo! Their official class song has changed as well: the translated version of Wreck-It Ralph/Rompe Ralph (by Auryn, a pop group from Spain) had been a favorite for many months, but with the clean slate and fresh air of 2019 came a new beat—Hoy es domingo (Today is Sunday) by Diego Torres. It is about how wonderfully relaxing Sundays can be, and students have already started singing along with the words.
Last but not least, and as part of an all-of-Lower-School project, first graders painted and colored tiles for the class fort, aka La Alhambra, which is based on an actual Moorish palace/fortress in southern Spain.
|2||This month, students in second grade worked on naming and jumping on all of the twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map independently. Many have demonstrated complete mastery of this skill—bravo! In the written world, they began differentiating between statements and questions “quiero/I want and ¿puedo?/can I?”, in both speaking and writing (e.g., intonation, punctuation). Here, second graders chose various (differentiated) modes to express themselves; while some opted for a fill-in-the-blank style letter or posting to Seesaw, others preferred to “text” back and forth to a friend in Spanish on printed out phone templates (not sure if this counts as tech integration or not!). |
In order to emphasize why spelling and details matter, they learned about a true translation disaster: once, shirts were printed for the Pope’s visit, but the translator messed up and the shirts ended up saying, “I love potatoes” (la papa/potato, el Papa/the Pope, el papá/dad)—whoops! Translations are funny things: we like “see you later, alligator” in English because of the sound, but in Spanish, in order for it to rhyme, you say, “Adiós, corazón de arroz” (goodbye, heart of rice). Second graders had a good laugh at that one!
Once second graders became pretty comfortable with naming the Spanish-speaking countries, they took a day to redesign the Spanish room for a more project-based approach. Some days, culture was merely a fun fact or short activity. For example, when students saw a thirty-second video of sneezing iguanas (Ecuador), they physically reacted—jumping and sneezing around the room for a few minutes, mimicking the reptiles’ action. Another class, they ate twelve grapes and hoisted a plastic disco ball to celebrate the New Year in Spain.
On other days, however, culture was a full-fledged project: students cut out feathers to create a bulletin board display of the Andean Condor, a bird with a wingspan of nearly eleven feet; built a replica of the Alhambra (Spain) out of cardboard boxes and massive amounts of tape, and then decorated the Moorish palace with painted geometric tiles (a lot of LS classes helped with this!); and drew out the Nazca Lines (Peru) with masking tape all over the floor—designs in the desert that you can only see from an airplane.
|3||This month, students in third grade worked on naming and jumping on all of the twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map independently. Many have demonstrated complete mastery of this skill. It is almost overwhelming—when you hear them rattled off— to grasp that there are completely different Spanish accents, vocabularies, and cultures (music, foods, art, sports, customs, etc.) in each of these places. My goal as an educator is to provide a general overview here; now that students are familiar with the names of these places, they can associate cultural and historical events with said countries in a more meaningful context.|
With that in mind, third graders spent a day trying to replicate the Nazca Lines (Peru) around the Spanish room. These are an ancient mystery: at ground level, they appear to be lines, or trenches, in the desert going in all directions; however, from an airplane, you see that they are in reality massive geoglyphs of animals and plants—and yet, these civilizations existed prior to the invention of the airplane! Hmm… Students also painted and colored tiles for the class fort, aka La Alhambra, which is based on an actual Moorish palace/fortress in southern Spain; ate twelve grapes to celebrate New Year’s Eve (tradition in Spain); learned that an ice cream shop in Venezuela holds the world record for the greatest number of flavors offered: 900 (3.B); and began building a model of Machu Picchu in Peru (3.A).
In other news, students wrote first and second drafts of their storyboard comic strip stories in Spanish, and then shifted from storytelling (Q&A in the target language) to centers, where third graders sign up for their center of choice each day (tweeting, writing a form letter, or speaking aloud), requesting any materials they need and explaining what they want to do in Spanish* (e.g., build roads to drive their Spheros (construir/build), play Twister or basketball (jugar/play), make slime (hacer baba/make slime), play the piano (tocar el piano), etc.).
They have been listening to Tal vez me llames (Call Me Maybe) by Kevin Karla y la banda regularly as well; it is funny to hear the cover of a song you are already familiar with in another language! As always, feel free to visit my website below for links and more information. If you are intrigued or questioning the importance of play in the classroom, please visit the Language Blog* on my website and read my latest post entitled, “Just Play”. Last but not least, students chose Spanish first and last names in the target language, and had fun practicing writing their new signatures all over my whiteboards.
|4||This month, students in fourth grade moved on from naming all of the twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map, to identifying major landforms in South America: montañas/mountains (Andes Mountains); desierto/desert (Atacama Desert); and río/river (Amazon River). They made storyboard comic strips in the target language to wrap up their storytelling unit; chose Spanish first and last names; and practiced reciting the Pledge of Allegiance/Juro fidelidad a la bandera—at students’ request. Fourth graders also listened to both more traditional music (Mama Tingo, Johnny Ventura; Ojalá, Silvio Rodriguez/esp. 4.A) as well as pop songs (Tal vez me llames/Call Me Maybe Spanish cover; No tengo dinero, MAFFiO).|
Later on, they began a centers unit. Here, students write form letters in the target language, filling in the blanks where necessary—or sometimes reconstructing it from memory—and receive immediate feedback re: accents, spelling, punctuation, etc. They choose their preferred activity of the day: tocar el piano/play the piano; jugar baloncesto/play basketball; pintar/paint; jugar a los naipes/play cards; jugar en la fortaleza/play in the fort; construir un videojuego/build a videogame; and/or work on a guided culture project—e.g., painting tiles for La Alhambra, a Moorish palace in southern Spain. The goal is to incorporate more Spanish words, phrases, and expressions at each center.
For example, when they play cards, students exclaim, “¡Tú ganas!/you win!” or “¡Yo gano!/I win”; in basketball, they might say, “Pásala/pass it”, or in the fort, “¡No zapatos!/No shoes!”. Any time they want to switch centers during a class period or leave the room to get extra materials or go to the bathroom, they have to ask in the target language. Naturally, certain items will intentionally go ‘missing’ from time to time, leading to forced linguistic interactions; if I hide the basketballs in the closet, fourth graders must ask for the keys in Spanish to open the closet (Necesito las llaves/I need the keys). Teehehee. If you are intrigued or questioning the importance of play in the classroom, please visit the Language Blog* on my website and read my latest post entitled, “Just Play”.
On one particularly exciting day, a student colored all over his hands with florescent marker (wait for the explanation before you say, “WHAT??!”), and put them under the class black light to demonstrate bioluminescence—a natural phenomenon where your skin glows underwater when it comes in contact with algae in certain parts of the world, including Puerto Rico. This kind of experiential creativity, combined with language and culture, is what learning is all about to me.
NOTE: Parents with children in multiple grades may notice that there has been some overlap in terms of content between the grades this past month and half. The purpose here is twofold. First, when children realize that they know the same Spanish vocabulary, a conversation begins—a door opens between grade levels where everyone is invited to the Party called Learning. If everyone in the world only knew segregated vocabularies, no one could talk to anyone!
Second, in the cultural realm, and now that students have more or less mastered the map, projects have begun popping up all around the Spanish room. When a class enters and there are suddenly masking tape designs all over the floor and a cardboard box tower in the corner, they naturally want to learn why and who and where and how and what. Of course, lessons are differentiated and age-appropriate, but it is absurdly exciting to hear first and fifth graders reference La Alhambra (Spain) or ‘jugar’/play in conversation. I feel that it builds a more inclusive, Spanish language-learning community when there are a few common building blocks.
|5||This month, students in fifth grade became a bit fanatical about jumping on and naming all of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map in a certain number of seconds. The Lower School record at this point is 8.32 seconds—wow! Students took an official test to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Fifth graders also began rehearsing their Spanish plays in the White Box Theater, playing with the new space and working to not back the audience. They took a day to create humorous commercials (Target/Espera más, paga menos/Expect more, pay less, McDonald’s/Me encanta, Crest toothpaste, etc.). |
Later, they delved into a mini-grammar unit, learning that nouns in the target language are organized as masculine and feminine, or “boy” (el) and “girl” (la) words. Students had fun racing to the board—markers in hand—and trying to find, translate, and spell words and short phrases correctly… before their opponent, of course. Finally, students listened to a few song covers in the target language. For example, HERE is the Spanish cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”.
NOTE: Due to rehearsals, holiday parties (Christmas and Valentine’s), and several long weekends, fifth graders have missed quite a few Spanish classes this past month. Because they only meet twice a week as it is, in January students began working to fill in these gaps by signing up for a language-learning app of their choice (i.e., Duolingo, Memrise, MindSnacks, FluentU), and spending three days a week, for five minutes each day on the app. If your child has taken a break from this practice, please encourage them to restart! […particularly because ALL of Summit will be participating in this Spanish App Challenge very soon, and there may be prizes down the road…] And as always, feel free to visit my website below for links and more information.