Quarter Update, 22-23 (3)

1This term, students in third grade began with Daily Language Trivia outside of my classroom. (This is the official “English/ Spanish/ Spanglish” zone, as opposed to the “Spanish-only zone” inside my room.) Here, students learned basic facts such as: How many Spanish-speaking countries are there in the world? (21); How many languages are there in the world? (7,000); What are the top three most-spoken languages in the world? In what order? (Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English); etc.

Inside the classroom, third graders were transported to another world–or Spanish speaking country, at least. Immersion can feel like another world, though; sans words, you lose your personality, your sense of identity, your power to express yourself how you want to. Students did really well with this. First, they learned about Easter Island all in the target language, and even made clay sculptures of the famous statues and Rongorongo tablets.

As part of this unit, third graders began rehearsing their lines for a Spanish News Show, which is actually part of a long-term project. The project is a story within a story within a story: a boy is late to watch his favorite show, the news/ las noticias, on which there is a segment about Chile; and following the news, there are Spanish commercials and a movie trailer about “Alan” and hungry Easter Island statues that come to life. “Alan” is completely ridiculous but a hilarious story starter!

In the tech realm, students started working on the Duolingo language- learning app; they are working as a team to earn a huge number of XP (points) over an eight week timespan, in what is called a Classroom Quest. It should be noted that they are doing an outstanding job with this. Third graders also learned a card game called Mano Nerviosa. Gracias for a great term.
2This term, third graders continued working on the Duolingo language-learning app, eventually completing the Classroom Quest after eight weeks of hard work–congratulations! Partway through the quarter, they were also introduced to the “Language Guessing Game, which we did as a class for a warm-up activity. Listening to other languages helps students train their ears and identify sounds that are distinctly Spanish; an unexpected consequence of this game was that several began exploring other languages (in addition to Spanish) on Duolingo–which is fantastic! The more languages, the better! Their most recent challenge from the tech world has been trying to figure out the daily Spanish Wordle. It has been amazing to see how many five-letter words they already know in Spanish (e.g., queso/ cheese, amigo/ friend, mujer/ woman, quiero/ I want, puedo/ I can, vamos/ let’s go, coche/ car, jugar/ to play, adiós/ goodbye, banco/ bank, leche/ milk, ahora/ now, etc.)!

Third graders also spent a few lessons learning about how some words are “boy” [or “el” words], and other words are “girl” [or “la” words]–in grammatical terms, we call these masculine and feminine articles, but students won’t know them as this. The el or la has nothing to do with the noun in question (tables are not ‘girls’ because it’s la mesa/ table); but it is a fun trick to help you remember, especially if you pretend that girls “get” such and such (la pizza/ pizza) and boys “get” such and such (el helado/ ice cream, ‘el-LAH-doe’). We proceeded to divide up the universe (i.e., el universo/boy word) into its respective categories–“Who gets the planet?” El planeta (boys). “What about the earth?” La tierra (girls)–and so on and so forth.

When hurricanes, the Halloween Carnival, Grandparent’s Day, field trips, and other school events canceled Spanish, our “Alan” story from the first quarter was put on pause. However, I took the days that we did meet to teach students how to dance the Salsa [as a mini unit]. Third graders were brilliant, and even started making up their own choreography after they had mastered the basic steps.

The schedule finally calmed down and we started meeting more regularly, at which point Center Work made a reappearance from years prior; students get to choose which activities they do, and learn corresponding vocabulary in the target language. This has been expanded to include “licenses” for everything, which are basically sight word flashcards that students have to have near them when using my materials. For example, if they sign up to “drive the car” aka “Quiero conducir el coche negro” [I want to drive the black car, that is, my teacher chair on wheels], they have to have their “license” (el coche/ car or el camión/ truck card). It is a fun game we play to encourage contextualized, meaningful language in action. Gracias for another great quarter.
3This term, third graders heard and acted out a legend about Yerba Mate Tea (Argentina) around a pretend campfire. Students had the opportunity to taste both the tea and dulce de leche (sweet milk caramel) in class. We started the quarter this way to emphasize the importance of friendship–it is called “the friendship tea of South America”–in order to lead into the main unit, Spanish Soccer.

Here, teamwork is crucial to success… not because I want students to score goals, but rather because this is an exercise in honesty and trustworthiness. The overarching rule is, simply put, NO ENGLISH. Period! Third graders painted flags of their team colors on their cheeks and/or with markers on their hands (e.g., Colombia vs. Mexico), and then prayed like in Chapel (Gracias por/ Thank you for…). We talked about being grateful for even the simplest of things–for instance, not everyone in the world has running water. Some in Venezuela have to walk 2-3 miles for it every morning: we are so lucky and blessed to be able to go to the water fountain! Next, they went outside to play! Students learned expressions such as, “¡Por acá!” (over here), “No fui yo” (it wasn’t me), and “¡Apúrate!” (hurry up- e.g., when the ball goes out of bounds and people take their good old time to get it!), and worked to output said vocabulary instinctively: this is the challenge and hard part.

Students focused on differentiating between a question vs. a statement in the target language (¿Vamos a jugar al futbol? vs. Vamos a jugar al futbol./ Are we going to play soccer? vs. We are going to play soccer.); many times, the only difference between a question and a statement in Spanish is the intonation. They also worked on conversational Spanish with my wall word signs and introducing themselves, public-speaking style (Hola, me llamo ___. Tengo una pregunta/ un comentario./ Hello, my name is _____. I have a question/ comment). Everything this quarter was about increasing linguistic output and building confidence in the target language (shouting in Spanish on the soccer field aka courtyard).

One day, we had a double class (all third graders), and because it was too many students to play soccer, we talked about translation (written) vs. interpretation (spoken) instead. Third graders gave short demonstrations of each respective career in small groups–e.g., consecutive vs. simultaneous interpretation–and later read examples of poor translations, including closed captioning of a song in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles. Hilarious! Last but not least, students received prizes (stickers, bracelets, washable tattoos, pencils, pins, etc.) for their Duolingo Classroom Quest work in the fall, and attended the fourth graders’ Spanish Play in February. Gracias for a great term.
4This term, students in third grade worked on a Book Fair Opening Skit, in conjunction with their Library class; the theme was storytelling through the five senses. There were four groups, which focused on the following: SEE–act out a Cuban legend; HEAR–interpret a silly story called La Cebolla Malvada; SMELL–forest simulation; TOUCH/FEEL–quipu (knot storytelling in South America), and TASTE–mint chocolate candies called “Andes” (connection to the Andes Mountains). Third graders worked for a number of classes on this, but due to scheduling conflicts, were never able to present their skits, most unfortunately.

They shifted to culture-based group projects after this. Students became comfortable reading a conversation aloud to sign up for said projects, and then worked on either building Las cataratas de Iguazú (Argentina); coloring jungle animals (Costa Rica); building Rube Goldberg type causa y efecto (cause and effect) ramps and/or domino creations–the latter of which tied in nicely with the rollercoaster science unit in their regular classroom. Many classes were canceled again this quarter, due to schedule interruptions of special events, so it was good to have a predictable routine to fall back on for the last month of school. The last few classes were spent getting students excited about “auditioning” for next year’s Spanish Play. Last but not least, classes worked as a team to outline the Andes Mountains out of dominoes on the Floor Map, to earn mint chocolate candies (brand: Andes), and made sure to play the Language Guessing Game one last time. Gracias for a great year!


Objective: acclimating to daily routines, expectations, and an immersive Spanish environment!

  • Welcome Back!: intro to daily routine and general overview. We will explore legends from around the Spanish-speaking world, and create a semester-long News Show in Spanish, adding a few new lines each day. The lines in the show will be reinforced via class activities; games; tongue twisters; songs; videos; ‘free choice’ center work days; and Culture Projects.
  • News Show: News Show Skit in Spanish. Testing their focus and concentration today- how far can we go in the target language?!
  • Easter Island Intro: News Show Skit, very quick run-through. News Show piece on Chile; intro to Easter Island, but all in the target language. Facts and slideshow with pics and video all in Spanish.
  • Easter Island, Day 1: skip News Show. Students have time to create air-dry clay sculptures from Easter Island (moai and Rongorongo tablets).
  • Easter Island, Day 2: Students have time to paint their air-dry clay sculptures from Easter Island (moai and tablets). Ms. C visited today and made her own sculpture as well!
  • Exports & Alan: Daily Trivia. Students brought air-dry clay sculptures to cubbies. Comment “everything comes from China” led to a mini review from last year re: imports/ exports. Students checked shirt tags and shoes for country names, and we found them on the map. STORY STARTER: Alan video, Easter Island statues, train, statues move when not looking (acted out).


Objective: begin to work on verbal output, increase speaking confidence in the target language.

  • Overview-English: Took a step back to explain in English the big picture of this first unit. We are creating a story (boy running home, late to watch news show) within a story (the actual news show on TV) within a story (movie trailer about Alan and Easter Island statues, that the boy sees on TV). “Ohhh….!” 🙂
  • Introduce Duolingo: Daily trivia. Introduced Duolingo language-learning app. Time to work on the app, work out the kinks/ any glitches, and record vocabulary in mini Spanish notebooks. And decorate notebooks with stamps!
  • Duolingo: Time to work on Duolingo app and record vocabulary in mini Spanish notebooks. Set up app with students who were absent. Reviewed News Show skit, with names. Students requested scripts, so easier to follow along (than on board).
  • Schedule/Alan!: schedule as follows- Mondays will be story days (treasure project, movie trailer with Alan); Thursdays will be commercials/center days; Fridays will be News Show/center days. Duolingo. Alan rehearsal and treasure project overview.
  • Commercial Time: Daily Trivia. Duolingo. Commercial. Center work introduction and The Town, Part 2.
  • The Town, Part 2: Daily Trivia. Duolingo. News Show skit- five minute rehearsal. Center work.