LINKS: 21 Accents- Amy Walker
Fifth Grade- This trimester, Summit students began with a “News Show” in Spanish–“En vivo, desde México” (Live, from Mexico)–where they took turns being reporters, working tech, and dramatically presenting the weather (¡El tiempo!/the weather). Each week, they added a new commercial, which was usually a translated slogan of a well-known brand (WalMart: save more, live better/ahorra más, vive mejor; Nike: Just do it/Sólo hazlo; McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it/Me encanta; etc.). The goal here was mostly to work on basic facts, such as days, dates, weather, but also to recognize how many things in our world have been translated.
The bulk of time leading up to winter break, however, was spent on museum exhibits. Here, fifth graders proposed an idea to research re: a cultural aspect of a Spanish-speaking country–and then got to work. Here is a list of sample projects. For student work, see THIS LINK.
- Alebrijes– Mexico
- Bullfighting– Spain
- Vinicunca/Rainbow Mountain– Peru
- Andean Condor– Andes Mountains, South America
- Marble Caves– Chile
- El Morro– Puerto Rico
- Nazca Lines– Peru
- Basilisk Lizard– Costa Rica
- Underwater Museum– Mexico
- Catatumbo Lightning– Venezuela
- New Year’s Eve– Spain
- Joan Miró artwork– Spain
Following this independent work, fifth graders came back together as a class and were introduced to a play in the target language. Here, they rehearsed lines, worked on expression (both stage placement as well as intonation), and practiced presenting to the class. One class, they even tasted Yerba Mate, a special tea from Argentina, because it was mentioned in the play. The goal each day was to work on Duolingo, split into groups for quality rehearsals, and then play “Spanish Soccer” outside, where students are only allowed to shout/speak in the target language (instinctive response). This rhythm was interrupted with field trips, assemblies, and more, however, which disrupted the class’s general flow and progress. As a result, fifth graders requested center work similar to last year.
It is not clear whether the plays increased their confidence with the language in general, or if they have just started working on Duolingo much more frequently at home, but regardless, something has clicked! Their letters to sign up for centers are beginning to show personality and expression and voice; this is wonderful. Students are learning to mix and match language, to play and manipulate it to say what they want.
Last but not least, students spent some time playing with accents and sounds. While 5B saw THIS VIDEO back in the fall, 5A watched it only a few weeks ago–and were blown away (Santa Anas winds, anyone?!). Since then, many have been working on improving their ear for language in general and becoming linguistic chameleons. Keep up the great work!
5.A CHAMPIONS: Jake H., 5720 XP: Abby, 5012 XP; Jack, 4914 XP; 5.B CHAMPIONS: Kawika, 3656 XP; 2728 XP; Amina, 2391 XP.
December/January: This month, students in fifth grade became a bit fanatical about jumping on and naming all of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map in a certain number of seconds. The Lower School record at this point is 8.32 seconds—wow! Students took an official test to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Fifth graders also began rehearsing their Spanish plays in the White Box Theater, playing with the new space and working to not back the audience. They took a day to create humorous commercials (Target/Espera más, paga menos/Expect more, pay less, McDonald’s/Me encanta, Crest toothpaste, etc.). Later, they delved into a mini-grammar unit, learning that nouns in the target language are organized as masculine and feminine, or “boy” (el) and “girl” (la) words. Students had fun racing to the board—markers in hand—and trying to find, translate, and spell words and short phrases correctly… before their opponent, of course. Finally, students listened to a few song covers in the target language. For example, HERE is the Spanish cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”.
NOTE: Due to Lessons & Carols rehearsals, holiday parties (Christmas and Valentine’s), and several long weekends, fifth graders have missed quite a few Spanish classes this past month. Because they only meet twice a week as it is, in January students began working to fill in these gaps by signing up for a language-learning app of their choice (i.e., Duolingo, Memrise, MindSnacks, FluentU), and spending three days a week, for five minutes each day on the app. If your child has taken a break from this practice, please encourage them to restart! […particularly because ALL of Summit will be participating in this Spanish App Challenge very soon, and there may be prizes down the road…]
November: This month, students in fifth grade began a theater unit. First, fifth graders heard a short legend in the target language, and then were assigned groups and given scripts to practice reading lines and acting out the legends: La casa embrujada/The Haunted House (Peru); El ratoncito que sabía ladrar/The Mouse Who Knew How to Bark (Cuba); and El collar de oro/The Gold Necklace (New Mexico). The goal here was not to memorize parts but rather to get into the routine of rehearsing in another language, as—fingers crossed—fifth graders will be presenting a formal program of Spanish plays at the end of the year for you in the target language. Both classes started reviewing their first official plays for the program this past week. You will receive more information and details/specifics about this event in the January newsletter.
Summit students also learned how to dance the Salsa after they started naming Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean on the tape floor map; the dance is particularly popular there. To inspire them for their cookie cutter design project, 5.B learned about the Night of the Radishes Festival in Oaxaca (Mexico), where enormous radishes are carved in the days leading up to Christmas (see links above).
October/Trimester 1: This trimester, students in fifth grade began by creating several wildly creative class stories, with plots about evil donkeys, broken down school buses, a serious Chick-fil-A vs. PDQ rivalry, stolen jewels from an art museum, and even a real courtroom trial (5.B). Here, fifth graders worked on answering questions about the stories and composing their own original sentences in the target language. Fifth graders also jumped on and named the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map, and played a highly addictive, “Guess the Language” online game (LingLang) to strengthen and hone their listening abilities; being able to distinguish one language’s sounds and cadence from another takes time and is a skill that will only benefit their language study.
Cultural tidbits were sprinkled throughout the trimester: from sneezing iguanas (Ecuador), dangerous railroads (Bolivia), a painting of an inverted map (Uruguayan artist), and the frightening legend of the Chupacabra (Puerto Rico/5.A), to Pedro Infante’s famous “Cielito lindo” (ay yie yie yie, canta, no llores/ay yie yie yie, sing, don’t cry/Mexican singer), El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead class discussions (Mexico), and a tradition of saying, “Salud, dinero, amor” (health, money, love) when a person sneezes (Colombia), fifth graders began to deepen their appreciation for different and new perspectives. Gracias for a great first trimester.
*Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras.
September: This month, students in fifth grade practiced jumping on and naming Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map before they sat down each day (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay). For their Summit mini culture project for Chile and Argentina, students “built” the Andes Mountains in three minutes with building blocks, and then watched as a terrible “mudslide” destroyed the mountain range—so that the next group could have a turn to build. For Uruguay, they traced a painting of a famous Uruguayan artist who wanted to define and identify Latin American art on his own terms, instead of in relation to North America and Europe; ultimately, the painting of an inverted map is about taking new perspectives and questioning tradition.
Fifth graders also continued working on their class stories. It is important to remember here that storytelling is the linguistic foundation of every culture: whether it is a simple conversation about where you bought your coffee this morning, or a more detailed narrative about how your two-year-old dumped juice all over the floor and then ran around the house screaming, we all partake in the timeless tradition of storytelling on a daily basis. Every conversation is a story—and sometimes the story leads where you least expect it.
That said, the story of 5.A. led to Señor Dorito escaping from jail with his two evil donkey friends in a broken down school bus (autobús roto). When fifth graders could not agree on an ending, they broke off into groups and wrote out their ideas—agreeing to disagree.
In 5.B, a slightly more realistic plot ensued, where Frito Bandito ‘rescued’ the imprisoned evil donkey and escaped, only to find himself in a courtroom in the next scene being tried for multiple crimes. In between the judge announcing, “Se abre la sesión” (court is in session), inkpad fingerprints presented as evidence, and an unexpected, but tearful confession, there was also a zumo y limonada/juice and lemonade break to ease the unspoken tension in the room.
Last but not least, students continued acting out their animal passwords, played Hangman/ Dunk Tank (tú ganas/you win), and learned part of the chorus to Pedro Infante’s famous “Cielito lindo” (ay yie yie yie, canta, no llores/ay yie yie yie, sing, don’t cry)—which managed to make its way into both class stories. They also watched the Frito Bandito commercial from the 1960’s, which can only be fully appreciated after you are familiar with the original [aforementioned] song.
August: This month, students in fifth grade worked to create an epic saga in the target language. These class stories are teacher-asked and student-led (agency), and tend to get rather creative rather quickly. For example, for 5.A, this meant an extraterrestrial named Bobby who lives on the sun and whose ultimate adversary in life is Señor Dorito (yes, like the chips). For 5.B, this meant an intense rivalry between two classmates, where McDonald’s was pitted against Chick-fil-A/PDQ, which ended when both restaurants were closed—because their owners, the Kardashians, were on vacation with their evil donkey. Ahem. In other news, fifth graders also chose individualized password cards; responded to action commands; watched a YouTube video about the Bolivian railway system; and also learned that there are 21 Spanish-speaking countries and 400+ million Spanish speakers, but that Chinese is actually the most-spoken language in the world right now (English is number three behind Spanish). Gracias for a great month.
September: This month, students in fifth grade learned that their end-of-the-year Spanish Program will actually take place in February this year. As a result, fifth graders launched into full-fledged rehearsal mode. Their first play begins with two news reporters. To make this more culturally authentic, students learned about and watched a short video clip of two famous reporters from the Spanish-speaking television network, UNIVISIÓN—Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas. From there, they proceeded to unravel the complex mess of new Spanish vocabulary, stage directions, and what is hidden between the lines yet nevertheless crucial to express on stage. For example, when Pato poisons Dora the Explorer on live television and the news reporters are undecided as to whether or not they should cut to a commercial, fifth graders must create an intense, unspoken tension in the room. What?! Daily oral assessments and weekly written quizzes ensured that students stayed focused and on top of the material. Additionally, fifth graders randomly chose a number from 0-105, which became their age and consequent ‘role’ (i.e., mother, father, grandfather, cousin, etc.) in the Class Family. This was to emphasize the importance of working together as a team and family, particularly in light of the aforementioned theatrical debut, scheduled for February 17, 2017. Can’t wait to see you there!
Quarter 1: This term, students in fifth grade spent the bulk of their time immersed in the target language and ‘The Art of Storytelling’. Accordingly, students mixed culture and creative imaginations to create numerous class story-plays with student actors. From a cockroach/la-cu-ca-ra-cha who stole instruments from a Mariachi band and a peccary who lives in Costa Rica, to a microscopic world and an upset guinea pig (Oreo—canta, no llores/sing, don’t cry), the linguistic journey never ceases to be original. Gracias for a great quarter.
Quarter 2: This term, students in fifth grade assumed new ages and identities in the Class Family; chose individual passwords; acted out two Latin American legends in the target language (based in Cuba and Peru); participated in a mini-soccer unit; discussed the major differences between interpretation (spoken) and translation (written); learned about El Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos and Rosca de reyes; reviewed the basic Salsa and Cha-cha dance steps; heard a presentation about Guatemala from a visiting Upper School exchange student; and then talked about and received Worry Dolls (Guatemala). In addition, fifth graders also began brainstorming, rehearsing, and preparing for their end-of-the-year program. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Quarters 3 & 4: This semester, students in fifth grade began preparing for the Fifth Grade Spanish Program. After familiarizing themselves with each of the three plays, fifth graders were assigned a main part in one play and minor roles in the others. Since then, students have been working on using appropriate vocal intonation and expression; facing the audience; adding relevant movements; brainstorming creative costume ideas and what type of music might be fitting for certain scenes; gathering items for their prop boxes; and memorizing their lines. Students should be immensely proud of their dedication, grit, preparation, and linguistic and theatrical skills. As a result of all of their hard work, the upcoming theatrical debut (on Friday, May 20, 2016 @1:30pm) is sure to be a tremendous success. As the year wraps up, fifth graders will divide their time between a basic grammar review and soccer games, weather permitting. Gracias for a fabulous year and (sniff, sniff!), best of luck in Middle School!
Quarter 1: This term, students in fifth grade spent the bulk of their time on creative storytelling in preparation for the student-written Spanish plays performed at the Latin American Showcase (May 15, 2015 @1:30pm). Inspired by Argentine animals, abstract paintings, fuzzy photographs, troll-goblin statues and more, the stories evolve through question and answer type discussions and cannot help but grow a life of their own. As a result, characters such as Betsy la vaca (Betsy the Cow) and Boberto la berenjena genial (Bobert the Awesome Eggplant—who is actually a coatí) are wildly popular among students, and have gone on some crazy adventures involving one-thousand angry fruits, the International House of Thumbs, a golden plunger, a magical pink cape, and an army of chicken-soldiers, to name a few. Additionally, and in-between chapters, fifth graders also chose to be embajadores/ambassadors of a [specific] Spanish-speaking country; presented their own original stories in Spanish to the class; and traveled outside to play fútbol/soccer to work on instinctually responding in the target language. Gracias for a great quarter!
Quarter 2: This term, students in fifth grade advanced to Creative Class Storytelling 2.0, as the following plots clearly illustrate. Hunt: After the evil team steals the Sr. Wooly password, Sr. Wooly drives a lagoon blue Beetle car to his great-grandmother’s house and tries to call the police. However, another evil force—a group of Teletubbies whose leader happens to be Peppa Pig—has taken control of the police station. The evil Teletubbies travel through the vortex part of their máquina/machine to the planet Neptune. There, they see an enormous, spicy pepper who wants to eat them. The pepper succeeds, but then the seeds in his brain instruct him to jump and, well, the contents of his stomach are emptied. ¡Qué asco!/Gross! Byerley: As it turns out, the pollito-soldados (chicken-soldiers) are actually evil and try to kidnap Uni-maíz-io (lead singer of the band, “Dirección Equivocada”/Wrong Direction). Boberto saves her, though, so then the chicken-soldiers get angry and brainstorm another plan: this time, with a machine and their evil force/fuerza malvada, they bring Uni-maíz-io to the dark side. As Uni-maíz-io is trapped in the dark side, Boberto obviously needs to save his future wife, so his shouts, “¡Mi amor!” (My love!) in her direction. The power of true love rompe/breaks the dark side’s evil force, Boberto proposes again, and this time Uni-maíz-io says yes. Awww.
Quarter 3: This term, students in fifth grade began preparing for their Latin American Program. After familiarizing themselves with each of the six scripts, fifth graders were assigned permanent groups and plays. Since then, students have been working on using appropriate vocal intonation and expression; facing the audience and planning out where they want to stand on stage; adding relevant movements; brainstorming what type of music might be fitting for certain scenes; and memorizing their lines. They have had several combined classes, during which time groups present a previously selected and rehearsed scene, and their peers evaluate the performances [on a rubric], paying special attention to audience engagement. As the culminating program of their Lower School Spanish experience approaches, students’ excitement is on the rise; please come join us on Friday, May 15, 2015 @1:30pm in the Community Room.
Quarter 4: This term, students in fifth grade continued practicing for the Latin American Showcase. They also worked on brainstorming creative costume ideas, gathering items for their prop boxes, and editing the PowerPoint slideshows. Eventually, it was time: fifth graders wrapped up the final details for their program, and then performed the much anticipated theatrical debut. Students should be immensely proud of their dedication, grit, and linguistic and theatrical skills. As a result of all of their hard work, the show was a tremendous success. Congratulations!! The remainder of the quarter was divided between two main foci: grammar and soccer. Essentially, the former is taking all of the linguistic knowledge they have, and dividing it into categories—“Oh, so those are verbs/nouns/adjectives in Spanish.” Fifth graders let this new information digest out on the soccer field. Some days, however, students’ strong interest in linguistics superseded their desire to play: cue ensuing discussions regarding the intricacies of translation. For example: “Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos” means “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but literally translates to, “Faces we see, hearts we don’t know”. Moreover, in order to make one of Dr. Seuss’ books rhyme, translators worked for an entire year translating the text—yikes! Machines can’t necessarily read between the lines, hence why some of my friends still have jobs (~as translators and interpreters). Gracias for a highly productive year.
Quarter 1: This term, students in fifth grade chose a class mascot to be the main character in their class stories. From this point, creativity took the reins… Hunt: A crazy scientist, aka Pocoyo, takes the pato-bailarín as his prisoner, but the dancing duck grabs the flag of Spain, knocks him down and escapes in a pink shoe to South Sandwich Islands. Byerley: Enemies of the beloved Snurkey (and the Butler) are established in the form of an evil team—Darth Vader, Turkal, Professor Coco-Mantequilla and Barney. One night, Snurkey is hungry while watching the Barney Show. He ends up entering the ‘pixeled void’ and eating Barney, thereby destroying one-quarter of his enemies. Still hungry (and presumably scared for his own personal safety), he escapes to the Arctic Circle. Fifth graders also selected a Spanish-speaking country to represent as ambassador/embajador(a); practiced identifying banderas/flags from the Spanish-speaking world; sang along with the bilingual song Wavin’ Flag—played at the 2010 World Cup—before traveling outside for Spanish soccer games (fútbol/soccer); had their first free-write of the year (with partners); and signed a Language Pledge promising not to speak English within the walls of the Spanish Cave. Gracias for an exciting start to the year!
Quarter 2: This term, students in fifth grade spent a good deal of time recycling and reviving vocabulary from years past. Whether it was through creative short stories (both spoken and written), Señor Wooly song-lyric videogame challenges, Class Wordles, animal password cards, daily online weather forecasts (comparing temperatures in other ciudades/cities and países/countries), songs-that-get-stuck-in-your-head-and-don’t-leave (Botas perdidas/Lost Boots), class plays, or translation exercises on their miniature whiteboards, fifth graders had fun combining old and new information. They also had a few class discussions about meta-linguistics, and tried to define “Language” itself—not an easy task. Later, students used their detective skills to identify and label twelve paragraphs written in different languages and alphabets. Last but not least, fifth graders chose new identities (or Spanish names) for the New Year, and began discussing the presentation format of their Latin American Festival program, scheduled for the beginning of May. Mark your calendars!
Quarter 3: This term, students in fifth grade continued with their daily board work translation exercises, and wrote back to their pen-pals. They also began discussing and preparing for their Latin American Program. Because fifth graders chose to write the plays this year, they were given class time to brainstorm adventures for their characters and to incorporate facts about their Spanish-speaking countries into the plans. This resulted in complex, wildly creative historical fiction plots focusing on the most famous of stuffed animals in the Spanish Cave: Pato. Later—after the stories had been converted to script-form—students broke off into small groups and began rehearsing both individually as well as in front of their peers. Fifth graders worked on taking their time, reading between the lines, and adding relevant actions, and are beginning to understand how to add humor and advanced expression to their roles. As the culminating program of their Lower School Spanish experience approaches, students’ excitement is on the rise; please come join us on Friday, May 2, 2014 @1:30pm in the Community Room.
Quarter 4: This term, students in fifth grade continued rehearsing for their Latin American Program, and really honed in on the details (e.g., big or small facial expressions and bodily gestures, squeaky and/or deep growling voices, and movement with purpose). Students also practiced performing the plays sans props, and then offered positive and ‘constructive criticism’ feedback to their peers following each presentation. After working on transitions and polishing their acting skills, they had a wonderful dress rehearsal in front of the entire Lower School. Their final culminating program for parents and friends that Friday was an equally huge success. Congratulations to all—you were spectacular! Subsequently, fifth graders reviewed songs from years past (Ave María, Botas perdidas, Wavin’ Flag); watched the newest Sr. Wooly videos; had fun reciting their lines from the Spanish plays in different contexts; got a taste of language-learning the traditional way—via grammar—to prepare students for Middle School and beyond; and practiced naming all of the Spanish-speaking countries in the world by jumping from one to the next on a tape map on the floor of the Spanish Cave. The majority of fifth graders already knew all of the countries, so the goal was more time-oriented for this grade level: Can you jump on and name all of them in less than fifteen seconds? Gracias for a great year.