|1||This term, students in fourth grade began with a fútbol/ soccer unit. Here, the focus is on creating a Spanish-only environment and immediate application of key phrases in meaningful contexts (e.g., Por acá/over here; pásala/pass it; soy portero(a), soy arquero(a)/ I’m goalie; ¡apúrate!/hurry up!; casi/almost; hace mucho calor/it’s really hot; no manos/no hands; suelo/ground; ¿Qué?/What?; Yo dije…/I said; agua/water. On several “Facepaint Fridays”, students even decorated signs with their last names and favorite numbers [to pin on their jerseys], and painted their cheeks with the colors of the flag of the Spanish- speaking country they were “playing for” that day.|
When someone fell into a bush and an angry swarm of bees emerged, however, the soccer unit ended quite abruptly and we moved into the meat and potatoes of the curriculum: The Fourth Grade Spanish Play. Students not only helped to create the plot this year, but they also underwent a realistic auditioning process to act in said production. From Spanish forms and paperwork, to bio summaries and nerve-wracking auditions and casting–all of which took place in the gorgeous Teatro Colón [theater] in Argentina–it was a fantastic first quarter!
|2||This term, fourth graders buckled down and got serious about their play (SCRIPT HERE). They focused on memorizing their lines in Spanish; facing the audience; being intentional about gestures and movements onstage; and syncing up what the actors were doing with what the narrator was saying. Once this was all in progress, they started playing with their lines, by adding more dramatic expression and working on proper intonation.|
As new scenes unfolded, students would learn cultural tidbits and then resume rehearsals. For a full summary of the plot, as well as an explanation of word plays and cultural references (e.g., Don Quijote), please visit THIS PAGE. The abbreviated version of the plot goes as follows: this is a play within a play about two best friends, “Pato” and “Oso”, who travel to Peru; meet Ariana Grande and her dog Fluffy, along with an alpaca named Mr. Hashbrown; and turn many “problems” into solutions along the way.
Fourth graders also continued work from last year–playing the “Guess the Language” game to help with “ear training”, as well as working on the Duolingo language-learning app. With the latter, they tried to correlate the number of XP earned with kilometers on a route through South America and Spain (El Camino). Their first goal marker was a beautiful national park in Chile, called Torres del Paine (silver); their second goal, Futaleufú Rafting (gold); and so on and so forth. This geographic parallel fit in nicely with a map review from last year, wherein students jump on and name all 21 of the Spanish-speaking countries. To clarify, this work was supplementary to the main focus of their class play.
|3||This term, fourth graders put the final touches on their class play. Next, they worked on props and costumes, and edited their cast bios for the official program pamphlet. While the full-circle goal of the soccer unit was to have the audience watch a “World Cup” pre-recorded game (of students) during the play’s intermission, numerous student absences and a shortened timeline (due to testing) did not allow for that this year. That said, a pre-recorded “halftime show” featuring fourth graders’ talents outside of school–gymnastics, cheer, dance, football, soccer, etc.–was featured instead.|
The play itself was an absolute success! But perhaps–from an educator’s perspective–the real wins have been noted in the day to day, in the process: two weeks after the play, students were still reciting their lines, but in completely different contexts now, wherever they happen to fit in. They say them relaxed and off the cuff; now that the pressure is off, they can play with the language and take true ownership.
|4||This term, fourth graders began preparing for Middle School Spanish. Here, students recorded words and phrases they knew in their class notebooks; discussed several grammatical points; reviewed the 21 Spanish-speaking countries; worked pretty consistently on Duolingo (weekly XP metas/goals) and Spanish Wordle (or All 64 Wordles for fluent speakers); were introduced to Quizlet; and, most importantly for one class, played Comida-bol, which is a non-existent Spanish word and fake sport invented by Pato. It is not actually a fake sport, but rather a misunderstanding; you see, Pato thought that fútbol/soccer was “food-ball”, which quickly morphed into “Comida-bol” (comida means ‘food’ in Spanish), and basically he thought that it was a good idea to play soccer with raw eggs. Ahem. #TimeOutForPato.|
Long story short, students now employ the beginning of the year soccer vocabulary, but kick around a plastic canteloupe instead. HA! When they tire of the sport (uncommon), they take out dinero/money at the banco/bank and then stop at the class “café” to purchase randomly priced items in pesos (and/or buy boletos/tickets to visit the “rainforest”). Typical conversation as follows:
ME: Which country is this again?
ME: And how many pesos are you charging for this coffee?
STUDENT: 10! ¡Diez!
[I walk away to the board, pull up the currency converter and discover that 10 Cuban pesos is equivalent to 42 cents.
ME: YEEHAW! What a deal!
STUDENT (on the other side of the room): “No, wait, I meant 1000 pesos!!”
Fourth graders also reviewed and acted out the history of Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, after which they learned how to cook plantain chips in class–to celebrate the impossible becoming possible! (Mexican victory over the French)