The Top Twelve


1) Expectations: Students will be reminded of the academic and behavioral expectations on a regular basis. Students in my class are expected to be smart, kind, and strong (have ‘grit’), and to work hard and have fun.

2) Passwords: For some grade levels, students are given a “special word”, or Spanish password, which can determine where they sit each day. They think up creative ways to physically act out vocabulary (e.g., flower). If classes have assigned numbers, there may also be more math-related games included in the curriculum.

3) Tongue Twisters, Rhymes, & Poems: Other languages require that you move your mouth differently than in your native tongue. Tongue twisters and rhymes give students time to become aware of and play with sounds and phonetics.

4) Actions: Students physically act out nouns and verbs to reinforce and recycle vocabulary, and also to move around and get the ‘wiggles’ out of their systems. They may play fútbol/soccer outside, and learn several authentic ballroom dances as well, including the Salsa, Tango, Merengue, and Cha-cha.

5) Announcements & Advertisements: Students learn translated slogans, such as, “Me encanta” (I’m lovin’ it/McDonalds) and “Come más pollo” (Eat more chicken/Chick-fil-A) to make connections outside of the classroom. Announcements are code for public speaking practice in the target language, and will be worked in gradually as the year progresses.

6) Floor Map: Students jump on an interactive floor tape map of South and Central America to learn the names and locations of the 21+ Spanish-speaking countries and to reference the map in stories/culture.

7) Games: Students play authentic and translated versions of a variety of games in the target language. These are meant to build class camaraderie, and teach students to respond instinctually in Spanish.

8) Experiments & Projects: Science experiments emphasize order and step-by-step instructions, and allow students to participate in a hands-on way with the language. Projects are often cultural by nature. For example, students might study and then build a model of Chichen Itza (Mexico); simulate an authentic mercado (Argentina); mold Easter Island statues and tablets out of clay (Chile); or even create Salar de Uyuni mirror images with art, cameras, and technology (Bolivia).

10) Cultural Tidbits and Facts: Culture is woven throughout the curriculum. Sometimes, cultural tidbits will emerge as answers to students’ questions in class discussions. Other times, facts will be included in class stories.

9) Partner Stories & Scripts: Students read and/or create mini-stories in the target language, and also read class scripts. With the former, the idea is to develop literacy skills and spontaneous linguistic output. With the latter, the focus is on expression.

11) Storytelling (TPRS & AIM methodologies): Every conversation is a story. Here, students help the teacher “tell” a story in the target language. The teacher asks personalized questions, searching for details, and then lets the class decide (usually!) where the story will take them. Stories for the younger grades are presentational linguistically but interactive in that students may participate in certain parts (e.g., students might take turns hoisting a stuffed animal duck up-up-up to the sky on a pulley so that he could learn how to fly).

12) Apps: Grades 3 & 4 will be using Duolingo this year. The goal here is to create a habit and routine of studying the target language. Students are expected to spend 3x/week, for five minutes each day on the app. For more apps and resources, please visit the “Movies & Cartoons” page HERE.