|AUG||This month, students in second grade chose individualized password cards, and then practiced thinking up ways to physically act out each one as part of their beginning-of-class routine. They also began rehearsing a class script for what will eventually be a news show, with famous, real-life Univisión anchors, Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas, as leads (all the boys played Jorge; all the girls were María). |
Later, second graders worked on a teacher-asked, student-led class story: here, an evil penguin with an unbearably evil cackle flies to a student’s house and steals a sword (2.A) and hat (2.B) from the protagonist during a tremendous rainstorm; the two characters do slow-motion karate, but in the end, the enemy escapes—oh no! Obviously, this crime will make its way into the news show at some point in time. Last but not least, students read a letter from their trustworthy but silly, stuffed animal language-learning companion, Pato (duck), and signed up for centers in the target language—construir/build; pintar/paint. Each week, a new center (and sight word) will be added, so that by the end of the year, second graders will have a substantial word collection. Gracias for a great month.
|SEPT||This month, students in second grade continued acting out their password cards, and added a few more centers (¡Mira!/Look!), paying special attention to the upside-down question marks in the target language when signing up for one (¿Puedo hacer un avión de papel?/Can I make a paper airplane?; “¿Puedo hacer un comecocos?/Can I make a fortune teller?).|
Later, they learned that their beloved stuffed animal duck friend, Pato, had been listening when they were jumping on the tape floor map in the Spanish room (naming Spanish-speaking countries)—and decided to travel to Argentina… without them! However, he was kind enough to send a text and video informing of his whereabouts, and claimed he would be back soon. He is currently exploring Iguazu Falls, or one of the world wonders, which is made up of an amazing 275 waterfalls! Song lyrics: “Where is Pato? Where is Pato? ¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está? / ¡Dime, por favor! ¡Dime, por favor! Tell me, please! Tell me, please!”
Students also learned that their teacher hiked a famous 500-mile long walk in northern Spain this summer, called the Camino de Santiago, and decided to make their own Camino down the Lower School hallway (2.B) with flechas/arrows and conchas/shells—symbols of the actual Camino. Later, they walked it, complete with backpacks, walking poles (hockey sticks), and water bottles.
When Pato returned from his travels the following week, he had no interest in sharing stories about Argentina, but instead, was already planning another trip. Apparently, the stuffed animal duck is jetting off to España/Spain next to walk the Camino de Santiago (he must be telepathic, although neuroscientists need to explain this one to me). However, he personally informed that directions are not exactly his forte; and thus requested second graders’ help (2.A) in creating a faux Camino outside, with chalk arrows and shells, and piles of rocks to help guide him. Second graders even built a ‘chair mountain’ for him to practice climbing in the Spanish Cave. Later, they listened to a fast, upbeat song (in Euskara, a language spoken in Northern Spain) about the Camino as well.
In other news, students continued with their class story. Update as follows: the protagonist is upset that evil Pingüino has stolen his/her things, but decides to think before acting; in fact, s/he thinks and thinks (piensa y piensa) for ten years (2.A) and ten centuries (2.B). To represent this passage of time, students made paper beards and moustaches, at which point the main character finally comes up with step one of a brilliant plan: to build a bridge (construir un puente)—but the bridge is a trick. ¡Peligro, peligro! (Danger, danger!)
Students built said bridge in class with Kleenex, paper clips, tape, and many, many, many Popsicle sticks, and then watched a slow-motion video of Pingüino falling off the [intentionally] poorly constructed bridge… and then transforming into a fantasma/ghost (i.e., the teacher trying to introduce Halloween vocabulary before Halloween). Gracias for a great month.
|T1||This trimester, students in second grade practiced acting out their password cards and naming the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map. While the map focused on South America, culture projects and discussions were not limited to these countries. For example, after learning about El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, second graders created their own faux Camino both down the Lower School hallway as well as outside, with arrows, shells, and rock piles.|
They also acted out one of the chapters of Don Quijote, a world renowned, 900-page novel from Spain; spent a day talking about El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead (Mexico); learned that children in Guatemala put tiny Worry Dolls under their pillows at night to take away their worries while they sleep; and watched a video from Pato about his travels in Argentina. In the linguistic realm, students began the term with a class story about an evil penguin who falls off a (student-constructed) paper clip and Popsicle stick bridge and transforms into a ghost after stealing from a student (what?!). Later, they signed up for centers, or sight words, which morphed into a class town.
At this point in time, the town’s most popular destinations include the aeropuerto/airport (international flights available) and teatro/theater (watch mini Don Quijote and Coco plays performed). The dinero/money situation is developing, as second graders begin to demand compensation for products and services. One class also incorporated a cemetery and ofrenda after learning about the Day of the Dead, while the other started up a street market/mercado (without realizing that mercados are actually very culturally relevant and present in many Spanish-speaking countries). Gracias for a great first trimester.
|NOV||This month, students in second grade continued naming more Spanish-speaking countries and developing new businesses and locations in their class pueblo/town. For example, one day a student created an enormous soccer field in the classroom out of masking tape and asked to play (¿Puedo jugar al fútbol?/Can I play soccer?). Next, some second graders at the class hotel/hotel hung paper television frames to watch the game and videoed it all on an iPad, while others took it upon themselves to make banderas/flags for the Spanish-speaking teams playing (i.e., Colombia vs. España/Spain) and cheered on the sidelines (golazo/goal; por acá/over here; pásala/pass it; casi/almost; vamos/let’s go; rápido/quickly). Later, the team decided to stand for Spain’s National Anthem before starting the game. Amazing!|
Students also recently created an art museum/museo de arte and zoológico/zoo (with feeding stations and live pets as well as toy animals; one day, a bunny escaped from the zoo and ended up on the soccer field (2.A), which caused a bit of chaos until animal control was able to handle the situation). Another week, a few talented street musicians even entertained on the keyboard for tips. Last but not least, students learned that the map of their town was created on an authentic map of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, home of the widest avenue in the world: 16 lanes of traffic. Second graders also tasted dulce de leche, a sweet, caramel-type of spread eaten in Argentina and many parts of South America.
|JAN||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.
|MAR||This month*, students in second grade had fun adjusting to a new daily routine: at the door of the Spanish Cave, after one student says, “Dime la contraseña” (tell me the password), the other responds with the fruit or vegetable of the week (that is, naranja/orange, plátano/banana, zanahoria/carrot, espárrago/asparagus, melocotón, durazno/peach, arándano/blueberry, cebolla/onion). To start the month, they took a day to welcome seventh graders and listen to Powerpoint presentations of mini-stories that students had written in the target language. After phasing out their center work (e.g., quiero trabajar en la máquina del tiempo/I want to work on the time machine; quiero jugar baloncesto, ajedrez/I want to play basketball, chess; quiero ser una espía/I want to be a spy), second graders launched into several new culture projects with the question and song, “¿Adónde vas?” (Where are you going?).|
First, they “went” to Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia) and tasted sal/salt—and azúcar/sugar, just for fun!—because it is the largest salt flat in the world. The interesting thing, is that during the rainy season, a thin layer of water over the salt allows the sky to be reflected perfectly, which is especially gorgeous during sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights. Second graders recreated these symmetrical reflections with watercolors by folding papers in half.
Later, students began assembling paper cubes to build a replica of “El Castillo”, a pyramid in Chichen Itza (Mexico), which is famous for its extraordinary mathematical calculations: every year, exactly on the equinox, a shadow of a tail appears on the side of the pyramid, which aligns perfectly with a snake head. While recreating the shadow itself would be difficult, second graders worked together to try to build the pyramid as a class. They also tasted fried plantains (patacones or tostones) that first and third graders had made (a popular snack in many Spanish-speaking countries), and were encouraged to make them at home. Last but not least, they played a game called Tingo-Tingo-Tango (Colombia).
More recently, second graders have been building their vocabularies by playing Policías y ladrones (Cops and Robbers) outside: quiero ser un policía/I want to be a police officer; ¡a la cárcel!/go to jail!; no quiero ir/I don’t want to go; ayúdame/help me; soy inocente/I’m innocent; libertad/freedom; no evidencia/no evidence; juez(a)/judge). 2.A also took a day to act out a very exciting pirate play in the target language, with kings, queens, a boy named Target and a pirate named Jimmy, a shipwreck during a terrible storm/tormenta, and an evil forest allergic to maíz/corn. It has been an exciting few months.
**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.