Racing Along

Some days in Spanish class, we lollygag and I allow time for vocabulary and Culture Projects to sift through students’ minds. It doesn’t feel–at least on paper–like we accomplish all that much, but I know that they are processing.  I am intentional about making time for these “lazy Sunday” lessons because on other days, we go 180 miles per hour, and I jampack their brains with so much information that everyone is overloaded!

Today was one of those 180mps (Freudian slip “miles per second” in lieu of mph, but I think I’ll leave it since we accomplished a ton in 30 minutes today!). Let me explain.

Class began with our Friday dance (“¡Es viernes!/It’s Friday!) and a quick recap of the previous lesson on dinero/money; several students had been absent but I also just wanted to review everything from Tuesday. Second graders had learned that other countries use money that may have numbers we recognize, but those digits do not usually represent the same value or have the same worth as our US dollars. This feels convoluted as I write it, but we took time on Tuesday to give a million examples so that students were able to grasp the concept. They handed me fake bills from Spanish-speaking countries (pesos, euros, bolivianos, etc.), and I used an online currency converter to tell them how much money they were holding (since the value changes continuously). Conversation as follows:

STUDENT: Ha! 5,000 guaraníes (Paraguay).
ME: 73 cents.

NEXT STUDENT: 500 euros (Spain).
ME: $585.52 USD

And so on and so forth. Students were both fascinated and perplexed by the idea. I shared a chart with the same number of pesos/euros on one column, with the corresponding value in USD on the other to drive home the point.

This only took a few minutes to review since most students were already familiar with the concept. Next, I asked a pregunta/question– Where is our ‘class town’ located?”–while slyly stroking and holding a shoulder bag that had, “MADRID MADRID MADRID MADRID MADRID” written all over it (which I had purchased in Spain a number of years ago). Students looked at a few photos of Madrid, Spain (the capital city), and made connections with the movie Vivo (they recognized an iconic image of Madrid that apparently is one scene).

We shifted gears at this point, and I said that while we will still continue building and working in our town on Mondays and Tuesdays, Fridays will be our “Story Days”. These stories are highly interactive and told in Spanish, but we had to do some prep work today beforehand.

PREP WORK & BACKSTORY: Second graders had seen a very silly 3-second video of a squirrel the other day (put on loop!!), so I decided to build this into our first story of the year. Students watched a cartoon of a “flying” squirrel and then lined up and took turns pretending to fly and then “epic-ly failing” by falling down on the carpet. I sang, “Puedo volar” (I can fly) to the tune of R. Kelly’s song in English, and then we watched a 34-second cartoon and they listened for key words (sí-sí-sí-sí/yes-yes-yes-yes; más/more; sé que puedo volar/I believe I can fly).

In the actual story, we haven’t gotten anywhere near the flying squirrel, but I like to pre-teach language for future use and have students wondering how this will all fit into the plot. 

Anyway, for Day #1 of interactive storytelling, students spread out around the room and repeat and mimic what I am doing. We attach a gesture to EVERY SINGLE word in the story, so there is a lot of movement and energy, but it is controlled and intentional.

We began by turning off the lights and setting the stage: “Una noche… duh-duh-DUUUUH!” (one night + overly dramatic air piano sound effects), and then learn that it is Monday in our story (we do a lunes/Monday cheer, and spell it out, YMCA-style), and that there is a lobo/wolf (main character) who runs to McDonald’s. I told students that they can absolutely love or hate McDonald’s–your opinion is your opinion!–but that we mention it in class because jingles stick in your head, and restaurant chains all have jingles that have been, yes, TRANSLATED! (Me encanta/I’m lovin’ it/I love it), which makes language easier to remember [if they already have a reference point in English]. Class was about over by this time, so they lined up for the habitual, “¡SORPRESA!” (surprise) for their teacher, and said our goodbyes!

Well, this was not the most concise update (“Oh me, oh my, pumpkin pie! That was not concise at all, maestra!!), but seeing as we have started to layer on a new unit, I wanted to share and provide a glimpse into the Spanish classroom/empire/world/planet/universe/something, HA! 🙂

I hope you have a truly wonderful Fri-YAY! and thank you so much for reading!