A Far Away Galaxy

Drone footage credit to mixkit.co, but I made the video. 🙂

The Firefly

Language has always been a story for me. You can go macro, the story of the world–or micro, the history of a single word. Or you can travel to another galaxy! With 7,000 languages on our planet, the possibilities are endless. My dissertation actually traced the evolution of the word, “luciérnaga” (firefly/ ‘lou-see-AIR-nah-gah’) in dictionaries, from its first appearance in 1251 through present day.

The definitions varied over the centuries, dependent on our collective scientific and cultural knowledge. Before we knew much of anything about entomology, many believed that those tiny lights flashing on and off in the night were… magic or sorcery. When there was a mini ice age in Europe for a few hundred years, a huge gap ensued: luciérnaga was absent from Spanish dictionaries, presumably because the lightning bugs all traveled closer to the equator, and were no longer a part of daily life.

Point being, I love language(s) and I love sharing my joy for words and communication with students. The cinematography above is meant to emphasize that your children do not merely study language in my class: they live it. They experience words and immersion and culture and all of the things. Words are everywhere, and it is my job to help them discover the *magical or linguistic/scientific* (however you view language) light and spirit within each child.

The firefly’s light flashes on and off, but it is always there.

Resumen, 22-23 (Grade 4)

QUARTER SUMMARIES will be posted here at the end of the term. Until then, this page will be a scrambled egg mess of notes.

Term
1This term, students in fourth 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); What about online? (English reigns!); etc.

Inside the classroom, fourth 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 power to express yourself how you want to. Students did really well with this. First, they reviewed a Spanish News Show from last year and made a miniature volcano as a “news story” to tap into their science unit (Calbuco, Chile). Next, they learned about Easter Island all in the target language, and even made clay sculptures of the famous statues and Rongorongo tablets.

In the tech realm, students continued (from last year) working on the Duolingo language- learning app; but this time around, 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. All of this is in preparation and gearing up for the main event this year, THE SPANISH PLAY. Near the end of the quarter, fourth graders made and submitted audition videos for the play, and were given a broad overview of the plot. They are all excited to begin the work! Gracias for a great term.
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3
4

August

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

  • Welcome Back!: intro to daily routine and general overview. We will spend the first semester preparing for the Fourth Grade Spanish Play. The lines in the play will be reinforced via class activities; games; songs; videos; and Culture Projects.
  • News Show: Soy fuerte & Soy valiente auditions. News Show Skit- vocabulary review from last year. Pato and the mini volcano (Chile- Calbuco).
  • Colorful Volcano: News Show Skit review. Top news is Chilean volcano. Class helps Pato make a miniature volcano model (with food coloring), all in the target language. ¡Lo hicimos!
  • Easter Island Intro: Language trivia. News Show. Why are we talking about Chile? Two reasons- the volcano (Calbuco) and Easter Island. Lesson on La Isla de Pascua and walking statues video, all in the target language. Facts and slideshow with pics and video in Spanish.
  • Easter Island, Day 1: skip News Show. Students have time to create air-dry clay sculptures from Easter Island (moai and tablets).
  • Easter Island, Day 2: skip News Show. Students have time to paint air-dry clay sculptures from Easter Island (moai).

September

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

  • 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. Also overview of XP progress this year.
  • Cognates: Daily trivia/ Firefly backstory. Time to work on Duolingo app and record vocabulary in mini Spanish notebooks. Word search and lesson on cognates (words that look the same in English and Spanish).
  • The Theater: Daily trivia. Time to work on Duolingo app and decorate mini Spanish notebooks. Look ahead to SPANISH PLAY auditions. Teatro Colón in Argentina.
  • Auditions, Day 1: Time to work on Duolingo app. SPANISH PLAY auditions will be in video format. Read lines with exaggerated emotions. Combine in iMovie.
  • Auditions, Day 2: Time to work on Duolingo app. DAY #2: SPANISH PLAY auditions will be in video format. Read lines with exaggerated emotions. Combine in iMovie. Individual surveys for type of role in play desired (e.g., big/ small part, tech, etc.).

October

Welcome Back 2022-23!

Image Credit: Xomatok

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

Welcome back! As we look forward to the start of another school year, I thought I would share a quick post of frequently asked questions. For any new families, I am the Spanish teacher for grades PK-4.

NOTE: Students typically address me as “Maestra” (‘my-ACE-trah’/teacher) or Señorita M., (Miss M), but I am also called “Spain” and “Español” (Spanish) from time to time. Feel free to clarify this at home with your child.

  1. What is the painted staircase image about?
  2. Why did you start with that?
    • I wanted to start here because if there is any conversation that you have with your child(ren) about Spanish class before school begins, please remind them that–much like climbing an enormous staircase or mountain–language-learning is a journey. Fluency does not occur overnight. It is a process where, after many successes, failures, and moments of uncertainty, coupled with much determination, grit, and hard work, progress is made. If your child can learn just one new thing each day in class, they will be well on their way.
  3. What curriculum do you use?
    • I use a variety of curricula to teach language. From gesture- based storytelling methodologies (such as AIM and TPRS), to culture projects, geography, center work, science experiments, soccer games, theater, and more, we cover a lot of territory in Spanish class. For more info, see THIS PAGE.
    • ASIDE: You may also hear about “Pato” (duck), a mischievous stuffed animal duck of mine with a big personality (and squeaky voice), who is always on some silly adventure.
  4. How much Spanish do you speak in class?
    • My goal is to speak Spanish 95-100% of the time; however, I can get sidetracked with sharing cool culture projects in English and adore goofy English/ Spanish wordplays (especially as mnemonic devices to ingrain vocabulary!). This year, we are physically dividing the space, so “English” tidbits will be taught in the hallway outside of my classroom, and everything else inside my room will be in Spanish.
  5. Do you only teach about Spain?
    • Definitely not! There are 21 official Spanish-speaking countries. Students in grades 1-4 become familiar with these country names and participate in Culture Projects throughout the year.
  6. What can I do at home to help support my child?
    • Encourage, encourage, encourage!
      • Point out the names of Spanish- speaking countries on t-shirts tags, fruit stickers, can labels, warranties, manuals, and bilingual signs out in public.
      • Make/ bake RECIPES from Spanish-speaking countries.
      • Visit the children’s world language section at the library.
      • Listen to Spanish tv and radio, for the sole purpose of appreciating foreign sounds– no comprehension necessary.
      • Change the voiceover on movies to Spanish (and subtitles to English).
      • Explore Little Passports & Universal Yums!, which are fun, educational, world-culture subscription boxes that your child might enjoy.
      • Incorporate the language and culture into your daily life!
  7. If I want to learn Spanish alongside my child, what resources do you recommend?
    • More than anything, learning another language is about developing the habit. Working on an app regularly is a great way to start. Last year, I organized an independent study “Adult Class” for parents and faculty. Feel free to check out those resources and posts HERE.

And last but not least, for anyone wondering why you should learn another language, please read THIS for a hearty laugh.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you soon!

Fondly,

Your Resident Linguist ❤

~aka Maestra aka Señorita M. aka Spain


Spanish Class: The Return of Pato

Summer Packet 2022

PREVIOUS YEARS: Summer Packet 2021Summer Packet 2020Holiday Packet 2020Summer Packet 2019Summer Packet 2017Summer Packet 2016

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

Summer is a great time to get out of the routine — to refresh and reenergize the mind, body, and spirit. That said, parents frequently ask me what they can do at home to supplement their child’s language study, particularly during the summer months and if they don’t speak the language themselves.

Before getting started, it is important to recognize that reaching a level of true proficiency in a language takes time. As a result, I strongly urge you to make sure that any enrichment activities you do at home are more fun than not: language-learning is a joyous process, and motivated, excited kids will accomplish more than you ever thought possible when they want to do something.

Second, in lieu of babbling on for ninety-seven more paragraphs, I am going to give you a roadmap to my website, so that you can find and explore exactly what you are looking for. If you need an actual roadmap/ travel guide and are planning to visit a Spanish-speaking country, check out THIS PAGE (my latest project, still in its infancy!).

Part 1: Resources

Not sure what your child learned this year in Spanish class? Check out the following links! Each page has resources by grade level of songs/ projects your child has worked on in Spanish class, as well as Quarter Summaries of the year.

  • Adult ClassDuolingo Language Challenge Posts
  • To read about my professional interests, click HERE.

Part 2: Language

Input is absolutely CRUCIAL here! If you don’t hear any Spanish, it is very unlikely that you will learn how to speak it. This input can come in countless forms. You can do the same activity every day (e.g., wake up and listen to ONE song in Spanish before breakfast); or keep it fresh, mix it up, and do something different every day. Either way, build the language into your daily routine, so that something feels “off” when you don’t do it. This input can be:

  • listening to songs, either playing in the background on your device while you do another task, or actively listening for words you know;
  • watching cartoons/movies or TV shows in your target language (Spanish voiceover with English subtitles);
  • working on an app, the Spanish Wordle, or a Guess the Language game for a few minutes every day;
  • playing a scavenger hunt out in public, noticing bilingual signs and Spanish translations when you go shopping;
  • traveling to the library to check out the world language section (go to the kid’s one! the adult one is full of grammar books! boring!! LOL);
  • traveling virtually —
    • for a playlist of Scholastic read-alouds in Spanish, click HERE;
    • for fairy tales in Spanish and English, click HERE;
  • traveling in real life, either to a Spanish-speaking country or to a restaurant or city with a lot of Spanish speakers.

Part 3: Culture

A friend once taught me that you don’t just learn to speak a language, you also have to learn to speak the culture. Bilingual speakers (and hyperpolyglots, of course) do not merely code-switch; they also culture-switch when bopping between languages. To that end, students can expand their perspective taking in countless ways, including but not limited to the following:

Conclusion

Wow! There are so many pieces that go into learning another language and culture! If you are looking more for themed activities, feel free to check out the Spanish Summer Packet from last year, LINK HERE.

And if your family would rather focus on, well, Family!, know that as in past years, all activities above are 100% optional. Have a wonderful summer, and I can’t wait to see you in the fall!

Gracias,

-Your Resident Linguist ❤

Resumen, 21-22 (Grade 4)

Teatro Colón, Argentina
Term
1This 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!
2This 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.
3This 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.
4This 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?
STUDENT: Cuba!
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)

In Theaters Now!


The “Pato” Play (2021-22)

On Thursday, fourth graders performed a play in Spanish about our beloved stuffed animal hero, Pato (Duck). This was 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.


Plot Summary

Act 1

The Fourth Grade “Pato” Play begins with a director who needs to cast the part of “Pato” (my stuffed animal duck) in a movie, but there is a lot of confusion. The first actor that shows up auditions as a gato/catnot a pato; the second actor auditions as a plato/plate, not a pato/duck; and then there is a delivery of zapatos/shoes, all of which infuriates the director, since he is in search of someone to play the part of a pato/duck and nothing else. Finally, the REAL “Pato” makes an unexpected appearance–he is a super famous, very cool actor–and everyone is aghast! The director offers him the part and he accepts.

However, the actors that do NOT get the part of “Pato” are disgruntled and will continuously interrupt the show with cultural commentaries and the like, to try and steal the limelight. The play (within a play) begins with Pato/duck and his friend, Oso/bear, galloping on horseback in Peru to [a real place called] Rainbow Mountain. There are 14 minerals in the soil there that create a very colorful, layered rainbow look. This tourist attraction is not too far from Machu Picchu, but Pato and Oso are actually in Peru because they want to visit their friend Mr. Hashbrown (an alpaca). Obviously.

The first interruption of the play deals with a parallel comparison of Pato/duck and his friend, Oso/bear, to the world-renowned, 900-page Spanish novel, Don Quijote by Cervantes–and a quick blip of the song, listen HERE. Classes had fun acting out the famous windmill chapter, where Don Quijote “fights” windmills, thinking they are an army of giants.


Act 2

ACT #2: The saga continues! After the show is interrupted for the first time [re: Don Quijote], we learn that Mr. Hashbrown’s house is near the Amazon River- cue second interruption! The actors trying to interrupt the play this time add a fun fact, namely, that a man (from England) actually walked the entire length of the Amazon River back in 2012, setting a world record. It took him three years! After they are shushed off stage, Oso becomes visibly agitated and nervous, stating that there is a problem. Pato replies that “there are no problems, only solutions“, which ends up becoming his catchphrase throughout the play. 

Anyway, while Oso is getting increasingly anxious as he sees an Army of Bacon Monsters slowly approaching on the horizon, Pato starts blabbering about how hungry he is and that he would really like a sandwich. Cue interruption number three: bocadillo [‘bow-kah-DEE-yoh’] is how you say “sandwich” in Spain! Pato always knows what’s going on, even when it seems like he doesn’t, so when he describes the sandwich he is craving, he lists the ingredients- lettuce, tomato and… BACON! The Army of Bacon Monsters (who have been inching closer the entire time) recognize their fate–a BLT sandwich! NOOOOOO! And a chase scene with all parties involved ensues, to music from the Nutcracker. **INTERMISSION**


Act 3

The two [stuffed animal] friends excitedly arrive at Mr. Hashbrown’s house, but quickly learn that their alpaca friend is quite livid. When prompted, Mr. Hashbrown provides visual and auditory evidence that his neighbor, Ariana Grande, is not the quietest person in the world and, in fact, quite the opposite–which means that he can’t sleep. Ever. Our hero Pato continues believing that, “there are no problems, only solutions“, but as the friends peer out of the window to observe, even he perhaps begins to doubt himself. A modicum of Madness with a capital M follows.

Through the window, they watch as Ariana Grande warms up her vocal chords with the scales–but is horribly tone deaf. Then, she starts yelling for her dog, Fluffy, who runs away every Monday. He doesn’t like Mondays, so he tries to run away from them. (Incidentally, Monday is also the name of a neighborhood cat, which causes the next chase scene to be that much more confusing.) Oso tries to help out and catch Fluffy, but he doesn’t run very fast and stops every two inches to eat honey; and Fluffy keeps running and barking whenever he hears the word, “Monday”, or lunes (“lou-nace”) in Spanish.

Meanwhile, Ariana Grande is talking on the phone with her #BFF, Jennifer, and loses it completely–collapsing to the floor, sobbing hysterically–when she learns that Fluffy may be lost forever. Everyone sings the first eight seconds of this song, Ay yie yie yie, canta y no llores (sing and don’t cry!). The Bacon Monsters reappear not long afterwards, this time as flash mob backup dancers for a music video rehearsal at Ariana Grande’s house to THIS SONG. Pato watches all of this, and finally takes control of the situation, telling Fluffy that it is Friday (viernes/“bee-AIR-nace”), not Monday.

Pato talks with Fluffy and says that they need to find a solution to his problem. Everyone pitches in to build him a new fence so that he doesn’t run away. Ariana stops talking on the phone about her lost dog and stops yelling at Fluffy, so Fluffy the Dog is happy. Mr. Hashbrown is happy because his neighbor only sings now and he can sleep. Oso is happy because he found more honey and doesn’t have to run after Fluffy anymore. And Pato is happy because he has proven to everyone that there are no problems, only solutions. THE END.

Fourth Grade- Links

  • For a playlist of Scholastic read-alouds in Spanish, click HERE;
  • For fairy tales in Spanish, click HERE.

Year 2020-21

El Fútbol (Soccer)

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA: Fútbol is an important part of the culture in many Spanish-speaking countries. During the 2014 World Cup, I happened to be in Buenos Aires–and the city exploded with enthusiasm after advancing to the finals. It seemed like everyone was your best friend, whether you knew them or not. Horns honked for 24 hours straight, people waved flags out of cars, gorged themselves on pizza, and held their breath as Messi kicked… and Argentina beat the Netherlands in the semi-finals. Spoiler alert: Germany won in the finals.

In class, students travel outside to play “Spanish soccer” and truly live the language. Here, the only–I repeat, only–rule that really matters is that students speak shout and yell in Spanish. “Who plays defense? What counts as a red or yellow card? Are the teams fair?” Frankly, none of that is too important–as long as students are running back and forth, kicking a ball, and shouting in the target language, I am happy as a clam.


Class Routine

Each day, students sign up for what they want to do. They can be a futbolista/soccer player, portero(a)/ arquero(a)/ goalie, entrenador(a)/coach, or árbitro(a)/referee. The two teams (that represent Spanish-speaking countries) get into a circle and chant either, “¡Este partido, lo vamos a ganar!” (we’re going to win this game!/Spain), or “Ganamos, perdimos, igual nos divertimos” (we win, we lose, either way we have fun!/ Guatemala).

Next, a special “visiting coach” [student] leads the teams in warm-up exercises. Now it is game time! Students work hard to shout in Spanish continuously, while trying to score a goal. Key vocabulary: Por acá/over here; pásala/pass it; la tengo/I got it; soy portero(a)/I’m goalie; la pelota/the ball; ¡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. Speaking English results in a penalty (referees have students count backwards in Spanish 5-0 and ‘complain’ “Quiero jugar”/I want to play!).

At the end of class, the teams line up and say, “¡Buen partido!” (good game!). While Mondays and Thursdays are practices, Fridays are official games and ‘Facepaint Fridays’, where students safety-pin paper flags to their shirts and have the option to paint their faces their team colors. Spanish music plays frequently, to help create a truly immersive experience.



Vocabulary

  • ¡Pásala! (pass it)
  • ¡Por acá! (over here)
  • ¡Por allí! (over there)
  • La pelota/el balón (the ball)
  • Soy portero/a; soy arquero/a (I’m goalie)
  • ¡No manos! (no hands!)
  • ¡La tengo! (I got it!)
  • ¡Vamos! (Let’s go!)
  • ¡Patéala! (kick it!)
  • ¡Corre! (run!)
  • ¡Rápido! (quickly)
  • ¡Apúrate! (hurry up!)
  • ¡Sube! (go up the field)
  • ¡Quédate ahí! (stay there)
  • Defensa (defense)
  • Descanso/entretiempo
  • Fuera
  • No inglés (no English)
  • No fui yo (it wasn’t me)
  • Fue… (it was)
  • ¡Vamos a ganar! (we’re going to win!)
  • ¡Gooooool! (goal)
  • ¡Golazo! (amazing goal)
  • “Este partido, lo vamos a ganar.”
    • We’re going to win this game! (Spain)
  • “Ganamos, perdimos, igual nos divertimos.”
    • We win, we lose, either way we have fun! (Guatemala)
  • REPORTERO (un trabajo para alguien que no quiere o no puede jugar, por cualquier razón): “Fulanito tiene la pelota. Corre muy rápido. Patea la pelota y ¡GOOOOOOOL!(narra lo que sucede en tiempo real)
  • CONSECUENCIAS: Números 10-0 (cuenta regresiva obligatoria, como consecuencia por 10 segunditos cuando hablen en inglés o por accidente o a propósito)

Facepaint Fridays!

  • Mondays & Thursdays are practices, but Fridays are considered “official games”.
  • Here, students are welcome to paint stripes of their team’s Spanish-speaking flag on their cheeks.
  • They also have signs with their last name and favorite number to safety-pin to their shirts.


Film: Rated PG-13 (older students)

The Fruit Gang


The “Pato” Play (2020-21)

On Wednesday, fourth graders performed a play in Spanish about our beloved stuffed animal hero, Pato (Duck), who was (gasp!) framed for robbing the bank. Students not only excelled academically–impressing the audience with native-like accents and natural intonation in the target language–but also delighted everyone with their theatrical stage presence, humor, and tech work. A huge thank you to all involved- it takes a village! A shout out to upcoming fourth grader Henry, who created this iMovie trailer for the show. ¡Muchas gracias!


Background Info

“Pato” (duck) is a stuffed animal duck of mine that has a ridiculously squeaky voice and innocent but silly personality. He is always getting into mischief, and students in all of the grade levels know him.

This year, he has ziplined down to the flagpole from the second floor of the new building (with grades 1&2). He has his own [faux] Instagram page and TV series. He has crazy ideas, and always wants to have fun, and would come out and play every day, if it weren’t for the stress his squeaky voice causes on my vocal chords (self-taught ventriloquism has a downside).


Plot Summary

In the play, our friend and hero Pato is framed for a crime he didn’t did commit: robbing the bank. While he sits in a jail cell with his BFF (#BestAmigoForever), a turkey, they recount what happened the day prior… and thanks to a “ghost”–what else do I do with a silver graduation gown?!–the two friends realize that Pato was POISONED! With “Meantonium”, a new element on the periodic table that makes you “mean”. In fact, a “Bad Apple” (~Manzana/Apple) poisoned the Mate tea Pato was drinking when Pato wasn’t looking, which made Pato “mean” and caused him to follow Bad Apple’s orders to rob the bank.

So… the two friends escape with the ghost’s help (#JailBreak), and go to Cuba to visit the witches, who are good and will help clear their name. In Cuba, Pato is severely distracted by all of the Salsa dancing, and wants to join the fiesta (party), even though they have work to do. The police show up suddenly, and this changes his mind rather quickly. A chase scene ensues. 

Conclusions- It turns out that Manzana/Apple stole the Meantonium from the witches, who only had it on hand for emergencies. There is also a surprise ending with a Banana, which is a theme of sorts, as “La Habana”, the capital of Cuba, sounds like “Banana” to Pato. Obviously. This film is rated G.

Summer Packet 2021

PREVIOUS YEARS: Summer Packet 2020, Holiday Packet 2020, Summer Packet 2019, Summer Packet 2017, Summer Packet 2016

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

This summer, students are encouraged to continue their Spanish study by living the language, through whichever ‘access point’ they deem most exciting. It is important to tap into students’ interests here.

For example, if they like tech, work on a Spanish app consistently; if they like music, listen to songs in the target language; if they like art or science, check out the updated Culture Projects; if they like geography or travel, look at tags and stickers on clothing and fruits, and see how many Spanish-speaking countries they can find; if they like PE, complete the Camino For Good Summer Challenge (where you walk/bike/swim across Spain virtually and log your progress in an app, unlocking all sorts of fun along the way!).

Spanish class is all-encompassing, and as such, the goal is to make it fun so that students stick with it: language acquisition is a long journey, and it is important to enjoy the ride. For a plethora of links, resources, and ideas, keep reading!

NOTE: While the activities below are 100% optional, it is my hope that you and your family begin incorporating Spanish into your daily lives: small, frequent doses are the most potent and effective!


SPANISH & PE

  1. Camino For Good App– [virtual hike across Spain]
    • The idea is that you walk/swim/bike in your local area and each day you log your distance into the App. You will see your equivalent progression along the Camino Frances on the interactive map where you can get a real feel for the landscape and village life of the regions you pass through. The total distance of the Virtual Camino Frances is 485 mi/ 780 km.
    • As a way of keeping you motivated, the App has rich content in the form of over 2,000 photos, audio stories, local history and motivational quotes that get unlocked as you virtually travel through the 207 destinations along the way.”

SPANISH & FOOD

SPANISH & ART/SCIENCE

SPANISH & TECH

  • Work on a language-learning app consistently this summer. Make goals for yourself about how many points you want to earn, or how many levels you want to level-up, or how many days a week you will practice. Switch your device’s language to Spanish if you want to!
  • Watch cartoons and movies in the target language; the brain does an incredible amount of work when it is given the opportunity to sit back, listen, and absorb. Do not downplay the importance of this when it comes to language acquisition!

SPANISH & WRITING

  • Keep a Spanish journal!
    • Doodle words you remember in the target language. Write the words or sentences in different colors and with different pens/ pencils/ markers/ paints/ gel pens/ etc. each day.
    • Tell the weather: hace sol (it’s sunny); hace mucho calor (it’s hot); está nublado (it’s cloudy); está lloviendo (it’s raining). Temperatures in Spanish-speaking countries are often in Celsius (use an online converter to see what 98*F equals!).

SPANISH & DANCE/MUSIC

SPANISH & MATH

  • Cut out different currencies (money from other countries), and compare and contrast. Use a currency converter to see how much it would be worth in US dollars.
    • Make your own business! Decide what you will sell, and for how much (in pesos, euros, etc.). Display the items you create, build, or cook in a decorative way, so that your family will want to “buy” them.
    • Make a cash box and organize all of the money by country and by amount.
  • Learn to count to 20 in Spanish with this video.
  • Learn to count to 100 in Spanish with this video.

SPANISH & GEOGRAPHY

  • Look for names of Spanish-speaking countries on tags and labels of items around your house and at the store. Can you fill in the rest of the chart below?
    • Spanish-Speaking CountriesChile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (technically a territory), Spain/España, Equatorial Guinea.
    • Older students can read this Imports & Exports post to think about the journey of a product and how it got to you.
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SPANISH & NATIVE SPEAKERS

  • If you are a heritage or native speaker
    • Watch movies in Spanish and add the Spanish subtitles– it can be interesting to compare the translations, which are oftentimes done in different countries. For example, you might hear, “¿Cómo estás?” but read, “¿Qué tal?“. You can even guess the country with some vocabulary and phrases.
    • Keep a Spanish journal and write a paragraph or two about what you remember the most from each day.
    • Make a “NO ENGLISH” rule at home with your family. Anyone who breaks the rule (intentionally or inadvertently) has to put a penny (or dollar?!) in a communal jar, or do everyone else’s chores for the next 24 hours. Make it a game!

SPANISH & SUMMER CAMPS

  • Read this post about Summer Language Camps.
  • Or, alternatively, turn a section of your home into a Spanish-speaking country!
    • Choose a Spanish-speaking country.
    • Research, print out, and hang up colored images of your country’s flag, plus famous places, animals, and foods from there. Ask to paint a tiny flag of your country on your hand or cheek!
    • Label five items in your room with bilingual (Spanish & English) signs–you can use WordReference or Google Translate.
    • Make it fun! Last year, we built a rainforest in Costa Rica in my classroom, complete with jungle sounds playing on an iPad in the background. This year, we built the Alhambra fort in Spain out of cardboard we had painted red. Add music, food, different currencies, and more- see other categories for more ideas!

Spanish is more than a class; it is a journey, and I cannot emphasize this enough. While the destination–fluency–is ultimately our telos, or end goal, the journey is equally important, and we want this journey to be filled to the brim with experiences and memories, so that language has meaning embedded in the words. Because that is the point, right?!

That said, it is important to recognize that when hiking (~our language-learning metaphor), there is value in both moving and standing still: sometimes you need to keep moving–and learning–filling up your tank with new experiences and new information; other times, you need to stop, pause, and be still while the world keeps moving. And sometimes, you meant or wanted to keep hiking, but didn’t get to it. That is okay!

Sometimes life throws us curve balls. Sometimes the world seems crazy. Sometimes our plans go awry. But a friend recently reminded me that through it all, we are responsible for how we respond: we can always choose joy. Whether ‘moving or standing still’ on your metaphorical hike, focus on what you love and make joy a priority this summer. It is time for a much needed respite now, but I also can’t wait to see you again in the fall! Have fun and be well.

Gracias,

-Your Resident Linguist


Happy Summer!

Siempre hace sol / cuando hablas español” (it’s always sunny when you speak Spanish).

Resumen, 20-21 (All Grades)

This year, I changed schools and began writing blog posts about lessons, as opposed to quarter summaries. Our school also did a mix of hybrid learning, with some students 100% on campus and others learning virtually from home.

As a result, I struggled with finding the best way to organize my curriculum on paper, as well as trying to blog regularly and post for virtual students: much like the fireworks image above, my thoughts were everywhere. It was a year of intense professional growth. Below, you can read blips about what we did. My two favorite posts are at the top, namely, Yes to Pizza and Pato Who?.

Just Keep Walking (4)

Week #2: This week, students in fourth grade had another dance party–see video below–making sure to sing, “Es viernes (‘bee-AIR-nace’)/It’s Fri-day” as they settled into their seats. The former is our “class song” and was the official anthem for the 2016 European Championship (soccer/fútbol). By Friday, fourth graders began to take a look at the lyrics and delve a bit deeper, learning that while rojo means red in Spanish, in the song, “La Roja” refers to the soccer team because Spain’s flag is red (and yellow).

Before jumping into the lesson, however, I wanted to take a moment to explain why I’ve repeated, “¡Camino!” four million times throughout the past few classes. The Camino is a long hike, yes–but it is also a metaphor. Simply put, language-learning is a journey. The Weekly Spanish Challenges (paralleling the 500-mile Camino de Santiago hike in Spain) are meant to reinforce that fact.

You see, some days feel like we’re walking straight up a mountain. Life is one problem after another–interjection: no! There are no problems, only solutions!–and all of our studying feels for naught. How come I’m not fluent yet? Other days, we are coasting. Spanish makes sense; there is growth: I remember that word! It is crucial to understand here that fluency does not occur overnight. It is a process where, after many successes, failures, and moments of uncertainty, coupled with much determination, grit, and hard work, progress is made. Plateau-ing is normal at a certain point. But don’t give up, ever!

The important thing is to keep going–just keep walking. You are making progress, even if you can’t articulate it quite yet, even when you don’t feel like it. If the class is going too slowly for you, then hike faster!: ask the teacher questions, explore Duolingo (a language-learning app already on your iPads), look up words in a Spanish dictionary, listen to music in the target language. There are myriad opportunities!

After this pep-talk of sorts (and encouragement to complete the Weekly Challenges)–along with a brief reenactment of La Tomatina, the tomato-throwing festival in Spain–students continued with their storytelling/ theater unit. Here, the teacher provides the bare-bones outline of a scripted story, and asks questions to personalize and cater the story to each particular class. My goal is to ingrain certain vocabulary structures in their minds each day through memorable experiences, comprehensible input–students understanding/ intuiting what is being said, even if they don’t know the words yet– and repetition (the average learner requires 70-150 repetitions of a word and/or phrase before it is stored in long-term memory).

NOTE: As I touched upon last week, the stories are grounded in actual cultural facts and places, but the idea is to layer imagination and creativity over them to create a personalized play with student actors and actresses. The stories tend to grow from class to class, but on occasion they will reach a “No Outlet” sign and we will begin anew (the phoenix re-birthed!). New vocabulary is constantly presented and old vocabulary is constantly spiraled and recycled. A full report on each class plot will be forthcoming: we are in the midst of the creative process!

One final note–students are gradually being exposed to the written word, but the focus right now is on listening and aural comprehension. This will be our next step (on the Camino… ha!).

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to print and cut out their own euros in color from the template below. Next, if you have any change in your piggy-bank, count all of it, and then type that number into this online currency converter to see how much it would be in a Spanish-speaking country**. For example, $100 US dollars today is about 84€ euros in Spain, but 365,645 pesos in Colombia. WOW! (Students did this in class last week.)

**Spanish-Speaking Countries: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (technically a territory), Spain/España, Equatorial Guinea.

If there are any vocabulary words I would like you to focus on this week, they would probably be dinero/money (‘dee-N(AIR)-row’), la casa de _____/so-and-so’s house (‘lah KAH-sah day ________”), and tengo mucha hambre/I’m really hungry (‘tango MOO-chah AHM-bray’). HERE is a great song (though admittedly a bit silly…) to get tengo hambre stuck in your head forever and ever. Make sure to say these words aloud with a lot of EXPRESSION! and in context at mealtimes, too. Hope you’re having a great week!

Newsletter 20-21, Sept.

A Whirlwind Adventure (4)

Week #1: This week, fourth graders embarked on a whirlwind adventure of language and culture. The first class was spent almost entirely in the target language: here, students traveled to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile hike that will directly correspond with the Weekly Spanish Challenges). Fourth graders began ‘hiking’ around the room as they watched THIS VIDEO I made (“Spain, Part 1”), but quickly realized they needed their backpacks and water bottles–the Spanish summer sun is very similar to our state, with 110*F temps!

As they walked over mountains and through valleys, their guide would periodically get lost. Students learned that the trail is marked by [scallop] shells and arrows. When you see one, you know that you are on the right path. Phew!

Whether students realized it or not, there were constant comprehension checks along the way: “What is this in English? How do you say this ___?”. I am throwing A LOT of Spanish at them in the first few classes, to gauge exactly where they are linguistically (including how many minutes they can actively listen to the language before their brains tune out!) and move forward from there. If your child is newer to Spanish and feels lost, please reassure them that I am only testing where the class is right now and to try their best to watch and follow along. It is okay if they don’t understand every word! Part of the language-learning journey is to RELAX when hearing another language. The brain actually does a lot of work subconsciously when students are actively listening. We will talk about all of this next week.

Anyway, students began creating a “Camino” around campus by drawing shells and arrows with chalk. We hiked up and down a few mountains (read: staircases) with our bags and water bottles, and then decided to retire to the hotel/hostel (their classroom!) for the evening. One section was able to do more of this than the other, due to time constraints.

The following day, students learned that Spanish classes will bounce back and forth between 1) learning about real places/monuments/ history/ traditions/realia–that is, culture–in the Spanish-speaking world; and 2) imagination, where we take pieces of this real culture and combine it with other fantastical ideas, in order to create personalized plays and tell stories in the target language. They also began class with a Friday dance party (Merengue!) to THIS SONG. Note that the English translation here is not a professional translation, but you get the general idea. It was the official anthem to the 2016 European Championship, and a great song!

On Friday, fourth graders launched into a storytelling/theater unit. I did not tell them any of the rules of Spanish storytelling because I wanted to see how they would respond; we will go over these next time. The gist of it was that a famous actress–walking the red carpet–starred in a movie about THE CAMINO (the 500-mile long hike in Spain). Luces, cámara, acción, redoble, toma uno /lights, camera, action, drumroll, take one!

In 4-1, the actress walked and walked and walked, was famished (tengo hambre/I’m hungry), and wanted to go to a restaurant to eat (she had three choices). This part of the story was put on hold or pause as students were given dinero/[fake] money and talked for a minute about euros vs. dollars and different conversion rates.

In 4-2, three famous actress auditioned for the main part. However, it was soon discovered that they were mortal enemies/enemigas. The class voted on this and then paused at a crucial moment when the girls were walking THE CAMINO and realized that their arch-nemesis was behind them. FIGHT?! Oh no! What a problem!

The goal for both classes was to jump into storytelling. We will hone in on specific vocabulary next week and ‘how to play the game’; the goal for this week was simply to listen to a lot of Spanish and gauge what students did and did not understand.

VIRTUAL LEARNERS are encouraged to check out the video and photos at THIS LINK, and to create their own “Camino” at home. The arrows and shells are oftentimes made out of things in nature as well. You might outline an arrow using some rocks or palms, or simply draw arrow and shell signs and hang them up around your house. Make sure they are all pointed in the same direction, so that you don’t get lost. Feel free to send pictures, if you like!

For language input, virtual learners may also 1) participate in the Weekly Spanish Challenges; 2) sign up for a Duolingo account and do a lesson or two; and/or 3) watch a movie or cartoon in the target language (Spanish voiceover and English subtitles). Just get used to hearing a lot of Spanish!

Newsletter 20-21, Aug.

Remote 19-20, T3 (4)

Continued Learning Assignments below.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/19/20

  1. Watch the VIDEO!!!
  2. Do one of the optional activities on the Summer Packet.
  3. Come to the Specialist Zoom party on Thursday, from 10-10:30am. Look for the invitation in your email and on Seesaw.

HAVE AN AMAZING SUMMER!!!!!!! ❤


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/12/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. Watch THE PATO SHOW, #9 and leave a comment on Seesaw about your favorite part.
  3. Keep working on Duolingo.

EXTRA CREDIT-

  1. HERE is a sneak peek to optional summer activities.
  2. Click on the Random Number Generator Link, input your range (1-46), and then click on the button. It will randomly choose a number for you; and you can do the corresponding activity. If you don’t like the activity, repeat the process to get a different number!!

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 5/5/20

OBJECTIVE: This is a CULTURE week! Today we are visiting Mexico.

  1. Learn about Cinco de Mayo from my videos: PART 1 and PART 2.
  2. Put on some traditional Mariachi music, and then–
  3. Post a relevant video/photo/craft on Seesaw.

EXTRA CREDIT–

If you want to listen to more Spanish–since there is not a new episode of THE PATO SHOW this week–here is a fun video.

Hear/read more stories at THIS LINK.


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/28/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. This week, your assignment is to do something Spanish-related for FIVE (5) days in a row. You can do the same activity each day for five days, or you can mix it up, and choose a different activity each day from the list below.
  3. Have your own ideas? Let me know! You can post EACH DAY on Seesaw what you did (on the journal feed), or wait until the end of the week to respond to this activity and share a slideshow of all of your activities. Good luck! ¡Buena suerte! YOU CAN DO IT!!

Here are A FEW IDEAS:

  1. Write out 10 sentences in Spanish each day. They can be silly or serious!
  2. Cook/bake/make/eat a Spanish recipe.
  3. Work on Duolingo (or Memrise) for 10 minutes each day.
  4. Watch another movie with Spanish voiceover and English subtitles.
  5. Listen to the entire Spanish Summit playlist of songs HERE. You can’t leave the room–actually listen!!
  6. Video yourself shouting, “¡El chico come manzanas!” (the boy is eating apples!) or another sentence you know, and post it to Seesaw.
  7. Change the language of your iPad, phone, computer, and all of your devices to Spanish for 24 hours. Can you survive??!
  8. Count to 20 in Spanish (in your head!) when you’re brushing your teeth every morning. Look up the numbers if you don’t know them.** (See note below)
  9. Watch this inspirational Salsa VIDEO (and the dog dancing Salsa). Next, put on some fancy clothes, blast your favorite Spanish music, and make a short video of you dancing/jamming out to the song! The kids in the video are only 6 and 8 years old. Wow!
  10. Play the Language Game, and try to get a score higher than 50. Too easy? The best score for Summit so far this year has been 325. Try to beat it! Spend 20-30 minutes working on this. It will really improve your ear for language.
  11. Watch all of the Pato videos, and email me a paragraph describing which episode was your favorite and why.
  12. Learn about Worry Dolls from Guatemala in this short but cute VIDEO, and then try to make your own.
  13. Watch this video of the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile hike through northern Spain) to see what it is like, and then go on a 20-minute hike outside. Think about how you learn Spanish best. What works for you? What doesn’t work? Do you learn best by listening, writing, or doing? Or something else?

**Too easy? Count backwards. Still too easy? Skip count forwards and backwards. Do mental math. Don’t just memorize numbers in order; make them meaningful. How do we use numbers in the real world? Count change in Spanish, say the total of the restaurant bill in Spanish, jump rope or play hopscotch in Spanish.  Numbers are everywhere…!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/21/20

  1. Watch the video on Seesaw.
  2. Keep working on Duolingo! You guys are rockin’ it!
  3. Watch a movie in Spanish (Spanish sound/voiceover and English subtitles) this week.
  4. Post the name of the movie to Seesaw AFTER you watched it, and add a comment about what you thought.
  5. Be sure to check out “The Pato Show” if you haven’t yet, and SEND ME a short video of you doing something in the distance (doing a cartwheel, kicking a soccer goal in your backyard, etc.) if you want to be featured in future videos!!

HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK!!!!!!

Click on video below for The Pato Show playlist. Enjoy!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/14/20

Respond to the activity on Seesaw. The Spanish Activity below will be posted on Seesaw at 8am Tuesday morning. Please log in to Seesaw to view and click on the “Activities” tab. NOTE: When I say, “Duolingo”, I am using that interchangeably with “Memrise”. I mean, whichever language-learning app you are using!

  1. Complete at least 9 lessons on Duolingo this week.
  2. Respond to this activity with a screenshot of your progress at the end of the week.
  3. Watch the Pato video below.

SPANISH EXTRA CREDIT- 4/14/20

  1. Play the language-identification game 2 or 3 times. See if your ear has improved since we played last year in class.
  2. If you haven’t played this game before, choose the “easy” level and just have fun!
  3. Post a screenshot of your highest score to your journal feed.

SPANISH ACTIVITY, 4/7/20

Thank you to those of you who did your assignments last week! Instead of emailing, from now on I would like you to submit your work by responding to the activity on Seesaw. The TWO Spanish Activities below will be posted on Seesaw at 8am tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Please log in to Seesaw to view and click on the “Activities” tab.

Do your best work. Not your fastest work. Not your laziest work. YOUR BEST WORK!!! ***And keep working on Duolingo (or Memrise) 3-4 times a week!

QUICK LINKS:

Activity #1- Videos

Activity #2- Songs

**Spanish Activity, 4/7/20- VIDEOS (Part 1)

  1. You have two assignments to complete this week. This is only ONE of them.
  2. Record another video (no letters this week).
  3. Be sure to introduce yourself (examples: Hola, yo soy ____ / Yo me llamo _______ / Mi nombre es______).
  4. Include TWO sentences with “Me gusta” and “No me gusta”.
  5. Include TWO more sentences with “Me gustan” and “No me gustan”.
  6. Add something extra that you just learned from Duolingo this week (not Google Translate).
  7. Post your video under this activity on Seesaw.

Remember, you can always do MORE than this!! “Connecting words” like because (porque), with (con), and more can be found on Veracross for Continued Learning. Above is just a guide to help those of you who do not know what to say, or who are tempted to use online translators to do your work for you (please do not–this is dishonest and against our Core Values of integrity and independence).

If you have questions about the assignment, please email me. If you have questions about Seesaw or technology not working, please email the Technology Department. ¡Gracias!

**Spanish Activity, 4/7/20- SONGS (Part 2)

  1. Listen to at least 3 FULL SONGS in Spanish on the ‘Songs Page‘ of my website.
  2. Choose your favorite.
  3. Respond to this activity with the link.
  4. Listen to this song at least 3-4 times a week, to get the lyrics stuck in your head!

**The goal here is to create a personalized class playlist of everyone’s favorite songs in Spanish. If you choose a song that was not on my website, you need to be very MINDFUL of the lyrics and images in the video. If the lyrics are not happy/good/ positive or the images are inappropriate, the video will be deleted. So choose a good song that has a fun beat!


SPANISH ACTIVITY, 3/31/20

LESSON OBJECTIVES
1. Describe likes and dislikes.
2. Introduce negative sentences.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Work on Duolingo (or Memrise) at least 3 times per week.
  2. Watch the video.
  3. HOMEWORKDo one of the following activities.
    • HANDWRITE me a letter in Spanish of 50 words or more and take a photo of it, OR
    • Video yourself speaking in Spanish to me for 20-30 seconds (like a letter, but spoken).
  4. For the letter or video:
    1. Include vocabulary from Duolingo (or Memrise).
    2. Include a “Me gusta” (I like) or “Me encanta” (I love) sentence.
    3. Include a negative sentence. For example:
      • No quiero = I don’t want
      • No necesito = I don’t need
      • No me gusta = I don’t like
      • No puedo = I can’t
    4. Connecting words:
      • pero = but
      • y = and
      • con = with
      • porque = because
      • también = also
  5. For the video, 10 seconds of talking and 20 seconds of “ummm” or silence does not count!! Try to make it flow. You can write it out and then video yourself reading it if that is easier.
  6. EMAIL MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
    1. Send it from your school email address.
    2. Include your grade level in the subject line of your email.
    3. Attach photo or video.
    4. Click “Send”.

And HAVE FUN! If you love drawing, decorate your letter with doodles and make it colorful. Or be creative with the video. Zoom has an option to video like a green screen, so you could ‘video’ from outer space, if you wanted! For tech questions, email Mr. Santos. Remember, learning should be a combination of hard work and fun. If it’s not fun, you are doing it wrong. 🙂


7. DUE DATE/DEADLINE
:

  • Your letter OR video is due within 48 hours, meaning by THURSDAY, APRIL 2nd @11am
  • If you are not happy with your work, you can always re-do your letter or video and re-send it, but I will not accept any more work after Friday, April 3rd. Please explain in your email that it is a ‘re-do’ or ‘video #2″ if you choose to do this.

SPANISH EXTRA CREDIT- 3/31/20

  • Still want more Spanish??! YAY! Check out the link to my website and–
    • email me your favorite song in Spanish;
    • cook something from the “Recipes” page
    • create your own country project based on something from this page HERE–also look on the sidebar or at the very bottom of the page (depends on what device you’re on) where it is organized by country
    • Catch Esteban or myself on Duolingo. I have almost 12,000 XP. He has 14,657 XP.
    • Check out BrainPop in Spanish below. Be sure to add subtitles in English for any videos.
  • For anyone interested who has read this far, here are two BrainPop links:

OTHER NOTES, 3/19/20

**Grades 3-5 should continue working on Duolingo at least three times per week, for 10 minutes a day. Students– there will be prizes for anyone who has earned more than 10,000 XP when we return back to school!

Advanced students who want a challenge may do any of the “Native Speaker” work HERE as well. Be sure to add English subtitles on BrainPop and “Pollito Tito” (CC/closed captioning in bottom right hand corner).

Remote 19-20, T3 (Fluent)

LINKS: La Roja Baila, Summer Language Camps, Teen Speaks Over 20 Languages- Video, Hyperpolyglot- Article, LingYourLanguage, BrainPopEspañol, THE PATO SHOW, Summer Packet 2020


Continued Learning Assignments below.

Spanish Activity, 5/19/20- 3,4,5

  1. Miren el vídeo.
  2. Entreguen la autobiografía si no la han hecho ya.
  3. ¡Nos vemos en la fiesta de Zoom esta semana!

¡¡DISFRUTEN DEL VERANO!! ❤


Spanish Activity, 5/12/20- 3,4,5

  1. Miren el vídeo.
  2. Escriben su autobiografía. Organícenla con una introducción, TRES recuerdos importantes para ustedes y una conclusión. Esta es la estructura:
    • Introducción – donde nacieron más otros hechos básicos
    • Párrafo #1 – recuerdo importante
    • Párrafo #2 – recuerdo importante
    • Párrafo #3 – recuerdo importante
    • Conclusión – ideas sobre lo que quieran hacer en el futuro
  3. Les doy dos semanas para completar esto, ya que es una tarea más involucrada. Será la última actividad escrita del año escolar. Escríbanme con cualquier duda. Y por favor, ¡diviértanse!

Spanish Activity, 5/7/20- 3,4,5

  1. Miren EL PRIMER VÍDEO y el SEGUNDO VÍDEO en Seesaw. ¡AMBOS!
  2. Miren estos vídeos también si no saben nada de Cinco de Mayovídeo #1 & vídeo #2 y hagan lo siguiente si les interesa.**
  3. Siguen con las entradas en el diario y ¡NOMBREN los días! (explicado en el vídeo).

CALENDARIO DE MAYO IMPRIMIBLE

**Actividades opcionales abajo.

  1. Learn about Cinco de Mayo from my videos: PART 1 and PART 2.
  2. Put on some traditional Mariachi music, and then–
  3. Post a relevant video/photo/craft on Seesaw.


Spanish Activity, 4/28/20- 3,4,5

  1. Miren este vídeo en Seesaw.
  2. Hagan algo relacionado con el español por cinco días consecutivos. Pueden escribir entradas en sus diarios, o cambiar la actividad cada día. #desafío
  3. Publiquen una foto o un vídeo cada día por los cinco días, o un álbum a finales de la semana con todas las actividades que han hecho.
  4. ¡Escríbanme con otras ideas!

Sugerencias–

  1. Hagan una receta de un país hispanohablante.
  2. Hagan un acuerdo con toda la familia de hablar solamente español en casa. ¡No hablen ni una palabra del inglés! Los que sí rompen el acuerdo deben de hacer todos quehaceres de la casa ese día.
  3. ¡Enséñenme algo! Vean un vídeo de BrainPop Español sobre las ciencias o las matemáticas y hagan un vídeo que me enseña algo sobre una asignatura o asunto muy específico. ¡No hablen en generalidades!
  4. Escriban cada día en sus diarios.
  5. Lean una novela en español.
  6. Aprendan a bailar Salsa (el baile). Chequeen este vídeo para inspiración. ¡La niña solo tiene seis años y el niño ocho! O esto aquí abajo para una risa.

Spanish Activity, 4/21-23/20- 3,4,5

  1. Miren este vídeo en Seesaw. Cambien su look, su perspectiva y ¡escriben una entrada en sus diarios con este nuevo look!
  2. Miren una película con los subtítulos en español y la voz en español, y presten atención a las traducciones y cómo son diferentes. 
  3. Publiquen una foto en Seesaw o de su nuevo look o del nombre de la película que han visto, con unos comentarios abajo sobre la experiencia. 
  4. Y claro, siguen escribiendo 3-4 veces a la semana en sus diarios.

Spanish Activity, 4/14-16/20- 3,4,5

Visiten Seesaw otra vez para ver la actividad esta semana. Favor de responder a la actividad en Seesaw. ¡Gracias!

  1. Miren el vídeo.
  2. Sigan escribiendo en sus diarios 3-5 veces a la semana.
  3. Experimenten con la poesía japonesa: si les interesa la idea, traten de escribir un haikú/俳句. Mejor dicho, ¡3 o 4 haikús!
  4. Pasen 10 o 15 minutos leyendo los dichos/citas/frases en el enlace AQUÍ y elijan su favorito/a. La página web está organizada por frases, autores y temas–si esto les ayuda, busquen las categorías encima de la página.
  5. Publiquen una foto del dicho aquí en Seesaw, por “responder a la actividad”. ¡Buena suerte!

Spanish Activity, 4/7/20- 4,5

VISITEN Seesaw PARA VER LA ACTIVIDAD ESTA SEMANA. ¡Hay un video ahí para ustedes!

  1. Miren el video.
  2. Tengan paciencia conmigo al final del video porque me pierdo un poco:D
  3. Escriban. Escriban. Escriban.
  4. Escriban más.
  5. Cuando se cansan de eso, escriban más.

¡¡¡¡SÍ SE PUEDE!!!!

*me ha quedado impreso en la memoria (error en el video)–lo lamento.


Spanish Activity, 4/2/20- 3

  1. Miren el vídeo en Seesaw.
  2. Escriben una página en sus diarios.

Spanish Activity, 4/2/20- 4,5

  1. Miren el vídeo para una explicación detallada de lo que hacer y cuales son las expectativas. *TERCER GRADE: miren la otra versión del vídeo en Seesaw debajo de “Actividades”.

2) Deciden sobre cuál tema van a escribir. Pueden visitar a https://esp.brainpop.com/ o https://www.timeforkids.com/ (pueden cambiar el idioma cuando leen el artículo).

3) Depende mucho del tipo de escritura elijan, pero quiero que se concentren en dos objetivos esta semana–primero, los marcadores del discurso, especialmente para una cronología de acontecimientos y segundo, la descripción y los cinco sentidos.

  • Utilizar marcadores del discurso para organizar su entrada
    • Ordenadores: de entrada, para empezar, antes que nada, por una parte, por otra parte, en primer lugar, para terminar/concluir, en fin, hasta ahora, de momento, dicho esto, etc.
    • Reformuladores: o sea, es decir, en otras palabras, mejor dicho, etc.
    • Conectores aditivos: y, además, o, ni, sobre todo, encima, es más, asimismo
    • Conectores de oposición: pero, sin embargo, no obstante, con todo, ahora bien, aunque, en cambio, por el contrario, en cualquier caso, etc.
    • Conectores de casualidad: porque, es que, puesto que, ya que, al fin y al cabo, pues, por (lo) tanto, por consecuencia, luego, entonces, de este modo, etc.

4) No importan aquí los nombres de los términos, sino el significado y que ustedes dan un esfuerzo para incorporar estas expresiones en sus entradas. ¡Pero SOLAMENTE las que sean relevantes!

5) En cuanto a la narrativa, y en vez de decirme, hay que mostrarme su recuerdo o experiencia que me cuentan. Les doy mi ejemplo del vídeo:

  • “Yo fui a la playa.”

VERSUS

  • Veo los rayos de luz que esparcen sobre el agua y océano como harina o un polvo mágico bajo el sol–y siento el calor de la arena bajo mis pies…

**Dije “la calentura” en el vídeo sin querer en vez de “el calor”, lo siento!!!

La meta es, traten de añadir detalles para crear una imagen precisa para los lectores. Incluyan lo que oyen, lo que ven, cómo se sienten, lo que huelen, etc. ¿Es de noche o de día? En vez de escribir esto directamente, pinten una escena, un lienzo de palabras… Si hablo de la oscuridad, el lector entenderá que o es de noche o las luces están apagadas, ¿verdad? Busquen nuevo vocabulario en un diccionario o pregúntenles a sus padres. Siempre siempre siempre se puede ampliar el vocabulario y, por tanto, enriquecer su experiencia del idioma. ¡Disfruten del proceso!

FECHA DE ENTREGA:
El jueves, 11:00am (2 de abril de 2020)

3* grado- publiquen una foto de la entrada en Seesaw
4* y 5*- mándenme una foto por correo FROM YOUR SCHOOL EMAIL!

Spanish Extra Credit, 4/2/20


Spanish, 3/19/20- Native Speakers

NATIVE SPEAKERS in ALL grades can watch the “Pollito Tito” video below for pura diversión. In addition, native speakers in grades 3-5 should watch a BrainPop video in Spanish on a topic of their choice this week. (Be sure to add subtitles to read along.)

In their Spanish notebooks, students can journal about the video they saw, or do a free write (e.g., continue a story they were writing, write about how they’re feeling, etc.). Also, be sure to check out THIS POST for extra credit opportunities. Scroll down to the “Culture” section!

Hear/read more stories at THIS LINK.

Continued Learning (Remote)

Radio Broadcast- Summary

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN!

NOTE: It is in both Spanish and English!

This week, I will give a variety of options for grades JK-5, to ease into the idea of continued learning. While students are required to complete the Spanish language assignment below (independent work), they are also encouraged to try one of the optional mini culture projects. The latter are fun, hands-on, offline activities that families can work on together.

This is not meant to be a burden on you, but rather to emphasize the importance of family in the Hispanic community, and to remind us to be grateful for this extra time we have together.


Language

Grades JK-2

**Students in JK-2 should watch two 4-7 minute cartoons in the target language this week–preferably on separate days. HERE is a list of links, including Pocoyo, Perro y Gato, and Caillou in Spanish. Listening to SONGS in the target language counts, too. Just make sure you don’t sing the English lyrics over the Spanish if it is translated!

Note that it would be beneficial to build into your home schedule that children watch these shows at a specific day and time, for example, 2x per week, when you are preparing breakfast or dinner and need a few minutes alone. The more predictable the routine, the better.

Grades 3-5

**Grades 3-5 should continue working on Duolingo at least three times per week, for 10 minutes a day. Students– there will be prizes for anyone who has earned more than 10,000 XP when we return back to school!

Advanced students who want a challenge may do any of the “Native Speaker” work below as well. Be sure to add English subtitles on BrainPop and “Pollito Tito” (CC/closed captioning in bottom right hand corner).

Native Speakers

**NATIVE SPEAKERS in ALL grades can watch the “Pollito Tito” video below for pura diversión. In addition, native speakers in grades 3-5 should watch a BrainPop video in Spanish on a topic of their choice this week. (Be sure to add subtitles to read along.) In their Spanish notebook, students can journal about the video they saw, or do a free write (e.g., continue a story they were writing, write about how they’re feeling, etc.).

Hear/read more stories at THIS LINK.

Culture

Each week, I will highlight a few different Spanish-speaking countries in my posts, with accompanying facts and mini-projects. Read through the ideas, see what materials you have on hand, and have fun! For all culture projects, be sure to find a good song on THIS PAGE to listen to while you are working/playing!

If you want to “create a country” in a corner of your house–bedroom, playroom, part of the living room, your closet, etc.–like I have in my classroom, make sure to add a big sign with the country name, and check out THIS PAGE for more cultural ideas. Post on Seesaw (grades JK-3) or email me a photo (grades 4-5) if you want to share.


Mexico

Project #1: HAMMOCKS!

The Yucatan in Mexico is known for its hammock culture. Here, 2/3 of children sleep in hammocks instead of beds, and there are even hammocks in hospitals! For this challenge, string up your own DIY hammock with a sheet and twine/rope. Attach it to your bedpost, a chair, or even a tree outside. Be sure to ask your parents first so that you choose a safe place.


Project #2: AMATE PAINTINGS!

Amate bark paper is a traditional folk art and beautiful type of paper made from the bark of fig trees in Mexico. An easy way to create one at home is to crumple up a brown paper bag and use colorful paints to create something like THIS. Scroll down here for step-by-step instructions. If you have any figs to chew on, eat some while you are painting!


Project #3: GROW CRYSTALS!

The Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine in Mexico with massive crystals. The average person can only stay inside for ten minutes because there is 99% humidity, whoa! For this challenge, grow your own crystals at home with Epsom salts, food coloring, and a bowl. Turn off the air conditioning if you want to enhance the cave simulation, haha! Skip to 5:23 in the video below to learn more.


Spain/España

Project #4: MAKE TAPAS!

An exciting part of traveling is getting to see and try different types of foods. What is “normal” to you is “strange” to others, and vice-versa. In Spain, tapas—also called pinchos when pierced with toothpicks—are found in many restaurants. They are snacks arranged in small dishes, and have an interesting history: a long time ago, many people were illiterate, so travelers going from one inn to the next could not read the menus; instead, they were given little plates to sample different types of food before ordering their meal.

Pretend you are in Spain and recreate tapas in your own kitchen. There are countless options, so find a few that you like, and have a little fiesta, or party. Some ideas include mixed olives and cheese; skewers with pickles; fried baby squid; mushrooms sautéed in garlic and oil, etc.—see more options HERE. Enjoy!


Project #5: BUILD A FORT!

La Alhambra is a famous fort/palace with beautiful gardens in southern Spain. Many students enjoy trying to build this fort during class time out of cardboard, so why not make one at home? Build a huge fort tent out of blankets, pillows, and chairs, based on La Alhambra. Ask your parents where in your house would be a good place to build it (so that you don’t have to take it down right away or get in trouble).

Draw or print out a Spanish flag to wave, put on Spain’s National Anthem or your favorite song in Spanish, and get to work! This could become a really comfy place to watch Spanish cartoons or study Duolingo. NOTE: The video is historically-based, and more for older students.


Project #6: GO ON A HIKE!

The Camino de Santiago is a 500-mile hike across northern Spain. It takes about 30 days to complete on foot. You carry everything you need in a backpack, and follow the arrows and shells so you don’t get lost. For this challenge, put arrows and shells all over the house, leading to your learning space or bedroom, like it is the Camino de Santiago. Feel free to pack a bag and go on a mini-hike with your parents walking around the block, if you feel like it. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

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Thank you so much for reading! Hope you are having a great week.

Fondly,

-Señorita M.

Resumen 19-20, T1-T2 (4)

Trimester Summary

Fourth 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.).

Once fourth graders felt comfortable with their script, each class transitioned to a more in-depth project, that was going to make national news. Well, that was the plan, anyway! Let me explain.

4A voted that they wanted to travel to and focus on Spain, while 4B chose Mexico. Both classes brought their backpacks to Spanish class; removed their shoes when passing through security; boarded the airplane; graciously accepted Cheez-Its and water from their stewardesses; took advantage of the in-flight entertainment (iPads); and after a long flight, finally landed.

Next, wearing backpacks, they followed a QR code hunt around campus, learning about famous monuments and cultural tidbits. Right when they thought things were winding down, their teacher hailed a taxi and they drove around the neighborhood, seeing the sights of [either] Madrid, Spain or Mexico City, Mexico from a cab. [Note that your children were safe at all times here–Ms. Berry was the “cab driver” of the school van!]

Students in 4A drove past the Prado MuseumEl Prado in Madrid, Spain is one of the most famous museums in the world, housing over 27,000 objects and artworks. In fact, it was the Google Doodle [the week students learned about it], which celebrated the museum’s 200th anniversary! For this project, students took an 8.5×11 copy of a well-known painting and transferred it by eye to a large trifold, trying to imagine how artists filled such massive canvases. For images of their work, please visit THIS LINK.

During the painting process, one student learned that the Prado was actually robbed in 2014— of a shocking 885 artworks. As a result, more than several classes were spent trying to merge their Spanish news show with an iMovie green screen breaking news “robbery” of their paintings in the style of Oceans 12. Ultimately, the project lost steam, but it was fun while it lasted! Here is the soundtrack we used.

Students in 4B drove past the Museo Soumaya, a Mexican museum with completely different exhibits. Here, fourth graders learned that in 1715, a fleet of Spanish ships sank off the coast of Florida, en route to Spain and loaded with treasure from the new world. Modern treasure hunters have discovered some of this lost treasure–one family made $4.5 million dollars in 2017!–but much still remains on the ocean floor. Students acted out this story as a class (with Spanish dialogue, of course), and then created artifacts for a faux museum display. After painting the Spanish crest and flag on them, students broke a few of the plates intentionally to make it seem more realistic!

Both classes tried to make a green screen iMovie for their News Show, but meeting only once or twice a week caused the process to lose steam. That said, they ALL did an amazing job with this! I wish we could have had a final product, but… c’est la vie!

Throughout these projects, students worked on Duolingo (or Memrise) every day. At some point, they became über-motivated and completely addicted to the app. This was and is great to see. The top scores right now are as follows:

4.A CHAMPIONS: Ilaria, 4879 XP; Audrey, 2800 XP; and Gabby, 2077 XP. 4.B CHAMPIONS: Adam, 13902 XP; Jai, 5717 XP: Lyla, 5635 XP.

Additionally, fourth graders had several conversations about language on a more philosophical level this trimester. They learned about hyperpolyglots, or people who speak an extreme number of languages; explored books from my personal collection that are in multiple languages; and discussed several statistics, such as 1) that there are 7,000 languages in the world, but that it is hard to define what exactly a language is, especially when compared to something like Spanglish; and 2) it is funny that we think of the internet as so ‘global’, when 52% of its content is in English (1 out of 7,000 languages). In that light, the web seems pretty limited, in terms of perspective taking.

As the trimester came to a close, students requested center work again. Here, they sign up via letters for what they want to do each day. While this is remarkably similar to last year and what other grades do from time to time, I have to emphasize here that their written work has grown tremendously as a group. Last year, their letters were all the same, very uniform. Now, I am reading all different types of letters–some are serious, others silly, and others a combination of the two. They are a delight to read each day. Keep up the excellent work, fourth grade!


August Summary

Fourth Grade- Students in this class also adjusted well to the new rule of, “Un-dos-tres, ¡no inglés!” (One-two-three, no English!). As with other grade levels, they began with a project in order to emphasize family, community, and working together as a team. Their project was to build a truss bridge, or puente de armadura. Here, students learned through immersion that triangles increase the strength of a bridge significantly, and allow it to hold much more weight and undergo more force than a simple design.

Fourth graders used balsa wood to build the bridges, after working on a blueprint of the bridge first. Always have a plan! Before they could finish, however, it became incumbent upon me to take a day to celebrate La Tomatina and make gazpacho (a delicious soup from Spain) with classes. Yum! We will return to the bridge-building next week. Students also have been working on Duolingo at the beginning of every class.


February: Hoy les felicité a los de 4.A por ser mi clase más ‘global’ o mundial de Lower School, en términos de querer aprender tantos idiomas… y en actuar sobre esta pasión. Muchos están tomando más de un curso en Duolingo, en adición al español: mandarín, francés, ruso, polaco, japonés, etc. Hay unos 7.000 idiomas en el mundo ahora, y con solo nueve o diez años, los niños ya saben mucho del ámbito lingüístico.

Por ejemplo, me dijeron esta mañana (correctamente), que en orden de millones o billones de gente, el mandarín es primero, el español segundo y el inglés, tercero. Pero en línea, el inglés domina, con 52 por ciento de la Red.

Les expliqué que hay “unos” 7.000 idiomas y no resulta una ciencia exacta por falta de una definición nítida o precisa: es el “spanglish” un idioma? Qué tal Chinglish (chino/inglés) o Greeklish (griego/inglés)? Hablamos de las capas y el desarrollo de los idiomas en sí. Por ejemplo, el “japoñol” es la mezcla de japonés y español, cuando unos inmigrantes se fueron de Japón a Perú y la segunda generación aprendió español y empezó a mezclarlo con el japonés en casa. A qué punto se convierte en otro idioma, además de la jerga/lunfardo*? ¡Avísenme en los comentarios abajo si tienen una opinión! [*jerga/lunfardo significa “slang” aquí]

Como que la clase ya tenía interés en el asunto, llevé desde mi casa unos libros míos, escritos en otros idiomas. Los niños trataban de descifrar cuál era cuál. Al notar un idioma que no podían identificar, era “aymará”, una lengua indígena de Sudamérica. Un hecho interesante aquí es que, en nuestra cultura, para hacer referencia al pasado, uno señala hacia atrás (“Ayer yo fui…”) y un gesto adelante para significar el futuro. En aymará, resulta el opuesto: uno señala hacia adelante para referir al PASADO porque es lo que se ve y por tanto, lo que uno conoce; uno señala hacia atrás para referir al PORVENIR, ya que no se ve y uno todavía no lo conoce.

Al final de la clase, hablamos de frases (y palabras) intraducibles (“untranslatable”), como deja-vu, tortillas, tacos, etc. y “word loans” (préstamos). Era un día muy académico y lingüístico, pero aprecié tanto el interés y la madurez de la clase. ¡Cuarto grado es genial!

January: We went on a bit of a tangent today in Spanish class. Fourth graders have begun studying other languages in addition to Spanish in Duolingo. Students learned that a person who speaks an extreme number of languages is called a hyperpolyglot. Students learned about the hyper-polyglot Timothy Doner this morning. For homework, please watch the video above or read this article. Enjoy!

Also- scroll down on this page to see the graphs and charts we saw in class: Chinese is the number one language spoken in the world in real life (Spanish is #2 and English #3), but in the online realm, English dominates, with 52.9% of the Internet in English. Interesting!

September: Hoy hicimos gazpacho en clase para La Tomatina el miércoles pasado. Gazpacho y pan, ¡qué rico!

August: En cuarto grado, empezamos con un proyecto para enfatizar la comunidad, o sea, que somos una familia en la clase de español. Los alumnos van a trabajar juntos para construir puentes de armadura (“truss bridges”). Aquí, ves sus planes y diseños. Aprendieron que un puente es mucho más fuerte cuando hay triángulos como la base—puede soportar mucha más fuerza. En otras palabras, somos más fuertes cuando trabajamos juntos.

Resumen, 18-19 (Grade 4)

Term
AUGThis month, students in fourth grade learned about Spain’s famous tomato-throwing festival, La Tomatina, held the last Wednesday of August every year.  To celebrate and reenact the day sans actual tomatoes, fourth graders made catapults out of Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and hot glue, and launched decorative, lightweight balls at G.I. Joe firemen and LEGO men figurines.  Students also chose individualized password cards, and then practiced thinking up ways to physically act out each one as part of their beginning-of-class routine; responded to action commands; and worked on their class stories, which are interactive, teacher-asked but student-led creations in the target language. 

Here, the main character is absolutely ravenous, and desires a plateful of juicy, red tomatoes; however, his foe (in one class, Taylor Swift) has eaten all of the tomatoes in the entire world.  Thus, our hero must travel to Mars, the red planet, to get what he wants—and, presumably, battle Taylor for it, in a struggle not unlike La Tomatina, thereby spreading Spanish culture beyond this world (4.B).  Last but not least, students 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.
SEPTThis month, students in fourth grade made copies of their animal password cards for the Summit hallway bulletin board; sang along to a silly video called, “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?); and took a trip down memory lane by watching Pocoyo: Invisible in the target language. They also jumped on and named certain Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map before they sat down each day: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. 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.

Fourth graders also continued their tomato saga, adding kings and queens of various planets (and even the galaxy!) to round out the story, and ended with a dramatic, slow motion, galactic force fight inside Taylor Swift’s jail cell—with Kung Fu Fighting playing in the background, of course. Taylor refused to hand over all of the tomatoes (todos los tomates), so really, there was no other option: “¡La fuerza!” (the force!). Since then, fourth graders have been working on a humorous script of their class story in Spanish—trying to memorize lines, coordinating words and movements onstage and, most importantly, making sure they know what they are saying! Gracias for a great month.
T1This trimester, students in fourth grade began by celebrating La Tomatina, a famous tomato-throwing festival in Spain. To celebrate and reenact the day sans actual tomatoes, fourth graders made catapults out of Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and hot glue, and launched decorative, lightweight balls at G.I. Joe firemen and LEGO men figurines. Other cultural projects included ‘building’ the Andes Mountains out of blocks on the tape floor map (South America); tracing an inverted painting that is meant to change one’s perspective and question tradition (Uruguay); and decorating sugar skull cookies for El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead (Mexico).

Fourth graders also created and acted out several class stories. In one, a dramatic, slow motion, galactic force fight inside Taylor Swift’s jail cell ensued—with Kung Fu Fighting playing in the background—because Taylor would not hand over all of the tomatoes in the galaxy to the planetary kings and queens (la fuerza/the force). In another (4.B), a rocket ship with alien sisters on board crash-lands in the Atacama Desert (Chile); two groups of spies witness the crash and begin throwing lemons at the intruders; unexpectedly, the aliens love the sour flavor and graciously thank their attackers. Students built spy forts in the classroom to act this out and participated in official Spy Training.

Fourth graders also practiced reading and writing sentences and mini-stories in the target language; jumped on and named the Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map; played a highly addictive, “Guess the Language” online game (LingLang); and made connections between their project time topics (Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans) and Spanish class. Gracias for a great first trimester.
NOVThis month, students in fourth grade worked on starting their sentences with, “Pregunta” (question) whenever they wanted to ask something, and 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. Fourth graders also played the “offline dinosaur game” and designed their own live video game course in the Spanish classroom, complete with jumping obstacles, gold as the prize for completing all of the levels, and Super Mario music playing in the background for 4.B—whereas talented 4.A musicians opted to play video game type songs on the class keyboard (jugar/play; nivel uno/level one; salta/jump; el oro/gold).

Students also helped create more mini-stories in the target language. For example, in 4.A, an orca named Flippers has a boat/barco and is saved by a student in an airplane during a highly unusual storm, where it rains lemons. Fourth graders listened to the famous Ojalá llueva café en el campo by Juan Luis Guerra (Dominican Republic); in the song, it rains coffee. In another story, a Minecraft lamb named Lime/Limón Verde lives in a haunted house. Students have begun bringing in their favorite stuffed animals and toys around which the stories are then created. In 4.B, students chose a spooky genre, and things got a little weird: a lizard named Burrito lives in a haunted house with ghosts and zombies. One night, his dog is sleeping, and one of the zombies, Pocoyo—fourth graders decided on this cartoon character because the stuffed toy version’s head spins—is hungry and eats the dog’s brain/cerebro. The puppy calls a doctor, but the doctor is actually a mad scientist/cientítifico loco and gives him a super brain, with all of the information in the entire world. Yikes!

Last but not least, students in 4.A learned a clapping rhyme that children recite to pass the time when they are waiting (~in line, on the bus, etc.): Jorge robó pan en la casa de San Juan, quién yo, sí tú, yo no fui, entonces quién/lit., George stole bread from Saint John’s house/who me/yes, you/it wasn’t me/then who). To inspire them for their cookie cutter design project, 4.B learned about Las Fallas, a unique celebration in Valencia (Spain) where people build massive parade floats, and then burn them all at the end of the week.
JANThis month, students in fourth grade moved on from naming all of the twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries on the tape floor map, to identifying major landforms in South America: montañas/mountains (Andes Mountains); desierto/desert (Atacama Desert); and río/river (Amazon River). They made storyboard comic strips in the target language to wrap up their storytelling unit; chose Spanish first and last names; and practiced reciting the Pledge of Allegiance/Juro fidelidad a la bandera—at students’ request. Fourth graders also listened to both more traditional music (Mama Tingo, Johnny VenturaOjalá, Silvio Rodriguez/esp. 4.A) as well as pop songs (Tal vez me llames/Call Me Maybe Spanish cover; No tengo dinero, MAFFiO).

Later on, they began a centers unit. Here, students write form letters in the target language, filling in the blanks where necessary—or sometimes reconstructing it from memory—and receive immediate feedback re: accents, spelling, punctuation, etc. They choose their preferred activity of the day: tocar el piano/play the piano; jugar baloncesto/play basketball; pintar/paint; jugar a los naipes/play cards; jugar en la fortaleza/play in the fort; construir un videojuego/build a videogame; and/or work on a guided culture project—e.g., painting tiles for La Alhambra, a Moorish palace in southern Spain. The goal is to incorporate more Spanish words, phrases, and expressions at each center.

For example, when they play cards, students exclaim, “¡Tú ganas!/you win!” or “¡Yo gano!/I win”; in basketball, they might say, “Pásala/pass it”, or in the fort, “¡No zapatos!/No shoes!”. Any time they want to switch centers during a class period or leave the room to get extra materials or go to the bathroom, they have to ask in the target language. Naturally, certain items will intentionally go ‘missing’ from time to time, leading to forced linguistic interactions; if I hide the basketballs in the closet, fourth graders must ask for the keys in Spanish to open the closet (Necesito las llaves/I need the keys). Teehehee. If you are intrigued or questioning the importance of play in the classroom, please visit the Language Blog* on my website and read my latest post entitled, “Just Play”.

On one particularly exciting day, a student colored all over his hands with florescent marker (wait for the explanation before you say, “WHAT??!”), and put them under the class black light to demonstrate bioluminescence—a natural phenomenon where your skin glows underwater when it comes in contact with algae in certain parts of the world, including Puerto Rico. This kind of experiential creativity, combined with language and culture, is what learning is all about to me.

NOTE: Parents with children in multiple grades may notice that there has been some overlap in terms of content between the grades this past month and half. The purpose here is twofold. First, when children realize that they know the same Spanish vocabulary, a conversation begins—a door opens between grade levels where everyone is invited to the Party called Learning. If everyone in the world only knew segregated vocabularies, no one could talk to anyone!

Second, in the cultural realm, and now that students have more or less mastered the map, projects have begun popping up all around the Spanish room. When a class enters and there are suddenly masking tape designs all over the floor and a cardboard box tower in the corner, they naturally want to learn why and who and where and how and what. Of course, lessons are differentiated and age-appropriate, but it is absurdly exciting to hear first and fifth graders reference La Alhambra (Spain) or ‘jugar’/play in conversation. I feel that it builds a more inclusive, Spanish language-learning community when there are a few common building blocks.
MARApparently, did not write an update.

App Challenge (4,5)

Happy New Year! It is a new year, and a new you. Fifth grade is a fabulous class, but because we only meet twice a week, there is a lot of time during the week without Spanish (boo hoo!); so we are going to level up and try to change this for 2019.

That means that for all of January, I would like you to
1) find a Spanish language-learning app that you like;
2) sign up for it on the device of your choice; and
3) spend three times a week leveling up and learning Spanish at home on the app. It is much better to spend five or ten minutes each day learning a language than two hours on Saturday… so think more in terms of baby steps–five minutes a day is plenty.

We will beta-test these apps as a class, and vote later on about which one is the best and why. However, for January, I would like you to choose only one of the following. In February, you will have the opportunity to switch to a new app, if you so desire. Here are your choices:

1) Duolingo
2) Memrise
3) FluentU (there is a 15-day free trial)
4) MindSnacks

*Guess the Language is also a really fun and highly addictive game, but it is not just Spanish and therefore does not count for this homework challenge. Maybe it could be a prize/reward activity at the end of the week when you log three days in a row. Just a thought!

PLEASE NOTE that if you already speak Spanish at home, you are welcome to spend the five minutes a day, three days a week watching cartoons, movies, news, sports games, YouTube videos, etc. in the target language. Apps may not be developmentally appropriate here, as they are geared more towards beginner language-learners and not native speakers. The goal is to enrich your Spanish study at home and learn at your own pace.

If you have questions, we can talk more tomorrow. In the meantime, have fun exploring! I am excited to see what you choose. And one last note, please do NOT pay for any of these apps. We are beta-testing the free versions!

Resumen, 16-17 (PK-5, Q2)

Grade
PKThis month, students in PK met several of the most beloved stuffed animals from the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, and Tiburón/Shark.  Getting down to business right away, it became apparent that Pato needed to learn how to fly, as any young duck ought to.  Running up a ramp [book on an angle], jumping, and lifting off did not go as planned, however, since Pato has the attention span of a fly—[not entirely his fault, as the space between his nonexistent ears does consist of fluffy white stuffing]—and, in the case that he did lift off, got scared and failed to flap his wings.  A pulley system was therefore erected, easily hoisting our hero off the ground and high, high, up to the sky. 

Tired of the yarn harness cutting into his feathers, Pato opted to go sailing after a while, only to encounter a terrifying, four-foot-long shark in the ocean—who was ravenous for a “sándwich de pato”.  While seriously distressing, this proved a wonderful impetus to learn how to fly—as in, immediately—or: to build a house at the bottom of the ocean, cover it with a blue blanket, and hope that the shark mistakes it for a lumpy wave.  Right…  In the end, the two become amigos/friends, and the shark wants to learn how to fly (since Pato is obviously an expert in this field). 

Adventure #2 begins with Pato lifting weights (read: a pencil, then a marker) in order to increase his wing-strength (fuerte/strong) and be able to lift his new friend, the shark.  In addition, students also hummed along to the beginning and end-of-class songs, responded to basic action commands, and said how they were feeling each day in the target language.  Gracias for a great month!
KThis month, students in kindergarten reacquainted themselves with several of the most beloved stuffed animals in the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, Conejito/Bunny, Patito/Ducky, and Ardilla/Squirrel.  After a summer of scrounging on crumbs in the Spanish room, Pato was, not surprisingly, beyond famished, and discovered in a gigantic bag full of plastic eggs.  Because the eggs happened to fit his head quite perfectly (just like a helmet), he decided to build a tobogán/slide with the class and cruise down at top speed—with the helmet, of course: safety first.  Conejito likewise nestled himself inside a plastic egg, and whoosh, down the slide he went! 

It should be noted that he kept a miniature cell phone inside the egg in case of an emergency, and did call initially because it was rather dark inside the shell and he was a bit scared.  All of this led to Pato covering himself with plastic eggs (armor, obviously), jumping aboard a stuffed-animal-sized winter sled with Oso, and requesting that kindergarteners pull the sled across the table—there was a long piece of yarn attached to the sled—so that they could “go skiing”. 

In-between these wild adventures in the target language, kindergarteners practiced acting out their password cards, made duplicates of said cards for their lockers, and held onto their sombrerosPato is bound to be up a tree or scuba-diving at the bottom of the ocean the next time you see him.  Life is far from boring with bilingual stuffed animals roaming the Spanish room…
1This month, students in first grade chose individual professions passwords, and then practiced acting out each one.  Later, they read the daily letter from Pato, wrote what they wanted to do on the miniature whiteboards (Quiero colorear, Quiero jugar//I want to color, I want to play), and then traveled to said isla, or island.  First graders will continuously add new islands—aka sight words—to their repertoire throughout the year.  These ‘play days’ will also be interspersed with ‘project days’, which build community, expose students to other cultures and perspectives, and/or reinforce sight words with a fun, hands-on assignment. 

The first project day was based on Don Quijote, the 900-page, 400+ year-old Spanish literary masterpiece by Cervantes.  In a nutshell, the adventures begin when Don Quijote goes crazy from reading too many books and decides to become a knight in shining armor like the ones he reads about.  First graders became so excited about the novel that one project day turned into a week—and the Spanish classroom transformed into a stage, where student actors and actresses acted out multiple chapters.  They even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters.  Impressive!
2This month, students in second grade chose new identities, that is, Spanish names.  Because a majority of students wanted the same names, they had to choose a second name to help differentiate one from another.  This means that not only is there a “Sofía Isabel” in class, but also an “Isabel Sofía”—just to keep us all mentally on our toes (neurons?).   Second graders were also given cuadernos/notebooks in which to record important vocabulary, such as their new names and individual passwords.  It should be noted that the latter are primarily sea creatures, but with a dinosaur, bumblebee, and fox thrown in there just for fun. 

In fact, “fox” is “zorro” in Spanish, which led to a fun mini-lesson about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico (now California) who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia), and makes sure to mark the letter “Z” wherever he goes.  Second graders seemed to get a kick out of the black-and-white 1958 theme song introduction to the show.  Finally, students practiced and presented a silly dialogue with puppets in the target language, which emphasized the importance of expression: ¡Oye-oye-oye-oye!/¿Qué?/Pues, nada/¡¿En serio?! (Hey-hey-hey-hey you!/What?/Well, nothing/Seriously?!).
3This month, students in third grade learned that they have been selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company.  A quick tour of the Walk of Fame—Hollywood squares with students’ names printed in the stars—confirmed this fact.  As participants, third graders will perform in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members.  The importance of each role was emphasized here.  Performed as theatrical plays, each story will include both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts). 

The first story begins with the following: Evil Orange lives in Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany (Deutschland/Alemania).  One night, he laughs his notorious, evil cackle, and sails to Puerto Rico.  The adorable Pato lives there and is nestled in bed with his favorite stuffed animal, Patito, dreaming of raindrops on roses and everything nice, when Evil Orange proceeds to kidnap Patito.  Oh no!  Evil Orange brings Patito back to Neuschwanstein Castle, and… you’ll have to tune in next month to find out what happens next.  “Duh-duh-duhhhhh!”  Third graders also practiced acting out their passwords in a timed setting, trying to associate a specific action with each word; began recording key vocabulary in their Spanish notebooks; and saw pictures of bioluminescence—their nonfiction fact of the month.
4This month, students in fourth grade learned that they will be participating in a yearlong town simulation.  Their first stop was Argentina, where fourth graders explored the history of Yerba Mate, or ‘the friendship drink’ of South America via photos and physical cultural artifacts, and later were able to taste the strong, somewhat bitter (but delicious!) tea.  Then, it was time to travel again: after grabbing their passports, boarding passes, and luggage from the Locker Bay; removing their zapatos/shoes for the infamous TSA security screening process; watching a bilingual ‘safety instructions’ video; enjoying snacks—goldfish and water—from the stewardess during the flight; and experiencing a tiny bit of turbulence, students finally arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain. 

Then, it was only a matter of deciphering the puzzling (but authentic) city map, a quick trip on the Metro (Subway) and a three-hour train ride (Renfe) through the Andalusian countryside (see all the olive trees?!), before students settled in what is to be their new home: Granada, España/Spain.  The intense summer heat of southern Spain was reflected (bad pun) in the covered streets—colorful sheet canopies high above protect the city from the urban heat effect.  Students left their baggage at the hotel, noticed the famous Moorish palace (La Alhambra) across the street (beautiful!), and set about their first set of business: deciding where to live and drawing up floorplans of the inside of their new homes.  Yay!  Fourth graders also practiced acting out their passwords, in order to associate a specific motion with each word.
5This 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!

Grade
PKThis term, students in prekindergarten learned several songs in the target language (Buenos días; Tengo hambre; La araña pequeñita; Sí me gusta/No me gusta; Te amo; Adiós, amigos); were introduced to numerous stuffed animals from the Spanish room; practiced responding to action commands; listened to stories; made miniature piñatas; and participated in class conversations.  Because the class is 100% immersion, each student picks up different vocabulary each day, and may or may not share those words at home.  Please keep in mind that the focus at this stage is comprehension—any verbal production is going above and beyond!  Gracias for a great quarter.
KThis term, students in kindergarten reacquainted themselves with several of the most beloved stuffed animals in the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, and Ardilla/Squirrel.  Over time, kindergarteners began to understand that the stuffed animals are quite silly, and as a result, most classes begin with a humorous mini-story that naturally leads into a hands-on class activity—e.g., vinegar volcanoes, disappearing ink, food coloring, dyed paper, fort-building, etc.  In-between activities, students jam to the theme-song from Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph) and watch PocoyóGracias for a great quarter.
1This term, students in first grade read and translated the daily letter from Pato (at times needing to correct the duck’s careless grammar); submitted written requests expressing what they wanted to do in the target language; and listened to two very silly songs… repeatedly: “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?) and “La invitación” (The Invitation).  First graders also spent a good portion of September studying and acting out various chapters of the 900-page, 400+ year-old, Spanish literary masterpiece, Don Quijote de la Mancha by Cervantes, and even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters in the novel (i.e., Don Quijote and Sancho Panza).  Gracias for a great quarter.
2This term, students in second grade chose new identities, or Spanish names, as well as sea creature passwords; rehearsed and presented silly mini-conversations in the target language with puppets; danced to Madre Tierra by Chayanne; and learned about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico [now California] who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia).  Later, second graders created a class story with Zorro as the main character.  The story required full audience participation—choral responses, gestures, actions, and student actors—and took over a month to tell.  Gracias for a great quarter.
3This term, students in third grade learned that they were selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company.  A quick tour of the Walk of Fame—Hollywood squares with students’ names printed in the stars—confirmed this fact.  As participants, third graders fact in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members.  Each story, or theatrical play, includes both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts) elements.  The first story of the year was about Evil Orange, who lives in Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and kidnaps Patito, the adorable stuffed animal belonging to the equally adorable Pato.  Hence began nine weeks of Adventures in Stuffed Animal World!  Gracias for a great quarter.
4This term, students in fourth grade learned that they will be participating in a yearlong town simulation.  After a brief layover in Argentina—primarily for the purpose of tasting Yerba Mate, or ‘the friendship drink’ of South America—fourth graders grabbed their passports, boarding passes, and luggage, and finally arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain, following a somewhat turbulent flight.  Then it was only a matter of a quick trip on the Metro (Subway), and a three-hour train ride (Renfe) through the Andalusian countryside (see all the olive trees?!) before students settled in what is to be their new home: Granada, España/Spain.  Later, they bought houses, and, well… got to work!  Gracias for a great quarter.
5This term, 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, first familiarizing themselves with each of the three plays as a class.  Next, fifth graders split off into groups, and began focusing in on their assigned play.  Specifically, students have been working on using appropriate vocal intonation and expression; facing the audience; memorizing their lines; and beginning to brainstorm prop, music, and costume ideas.  Gracias for a great quarter.

Resumen, 16-17 (PK-5, Q1)

Grade
PKThis term, students in prekindergarten learned several songs in the target language (Buenos días; Tengo hambre; La araña pequeñita; Sí me gusta/No me gusta; Te amo; Adiós, amigos); were introduced to numerous stuffed animals from the Spanish room; practiced responding to action commands; listened to stories; made miniature piñatas; and participated in class conversations.  Because the class is 100% immersion, each student picks up different vocabulary each day, and may or may not share those words at home.  Please keep in mind that the focus at this stage is comprehension—any verbal production is going above and beyond!  Gracias for a great quarter.
KThis term, students in kindergarten reacquainted themselves with several of the most beloved stuffed animals in the Spanish room, including Pato/Duck, Oso/Bear, and Ardilla/Squirrel.  Over time, kindergarteners began to understand that the stuffed animals are quite silly, and as a result, most classes begin with a humorous mini-story that naturally leads into a hands-on class activity—e.g., vinegar volcanoes, disappearing ink, food coloring, dyed paper, fort-building, etc.  In-between activities, students jam to the theme-song from Rompe Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph) and watch PocoyóGracias for a great quarter.
1This term, students in first grade read and translated the daily letter from Pato (at times needing to correct the duck’s careless grammar); submitted written requests expressing what they wanted to do in the target language; and listened to two very silly songs… repeatedly: “¿Puedo ir al baño?” (Can I go to the bathroom?) and “La invitación” (The Invitation).  First graders also spent a good portion of September studying and acting out various chapters of the 900-page, 400+ year-old, Spanish literary masterpiece, Don Quijote de la Mancha by Cervantes, and even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters in the novel (i.e., Don Quijote and Sancho Panza).  Gracias for a great quarter.
2This term, students in second grade chose new identities, or Spanish names, as well as sea creature passwords; rehearsed and presented silly mini-conversations in the target language with puppets; danced to Madre Tierra by Chayanne; and learned about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico [now California] who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia).  Later, second graders created a class story with Zorro as the main character.  The story required full audience participation—choral responses, gestures, actions, and student actors—and took over a month to tell.  Gracias for a great quarter.
3This term, students in third grade learned that they were selected to join the world-renowned Spanish Acting Company.  A quick tour of the Walk of Fame—Hollywood squares with students’ names printed in the stars—confirmed this fact.  As participants, third graders fact in multiple shows throughout the year, as main characters and audience members.  Each story, or theatrical play, includes both fiction (creative, student ideas) and nonfiction (cultural, historical facts) elements.  The first story of the year was about Evil Orange, who lives in Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and kidnaps Patito, the adorable stuffed animal belonging to the equally adorable Pato.  Hence began nine weeks of Adventures in Stuffed Animal World!  Gracias for a great quarter.
4This term, students in fourth grade learned that they will be participating in a yearlong town simulation.  After a brief layover in Argentina—primarily for the purpose of tasting Yerba Mate, or ‘the friendship drink’ of South America—fourth graders grabbed their passports, boarding passes, and luggage, and finally arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain, following a somewhat turbulent flight.  Then it was only a matter of a quick trip on the Metro (Subway), and a three-hour train ride (Renfe) through the Andalusian countryside (see all the olive trees?!) before students settled in what is to be their new home: Granada, España/Spain.  Later, they bought houses, and, well… got to work!  Gracias for a great quarter.
5This term, 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, first familiarizing themselves with each of the three plays as a class.  Next, fifth graders split off into groups, and began focusing in on their assigned play.  Specifically, students have been working on using appropriate vocal intonation and expression; facing the audience; memorizing their lines; and beginning to brainstorm prop, music, and costume ideas.  Gracias for a great quarter.

2016-17

September: This month, students in first grade chose individual professions passwords, and then practiced acting out each one.  Later, they read the daily letter from Pato, wrote what they wanted to do on the miniature whiteboards (Quiero colorear, Quiero jugar//I want to color, I want to play), and then traveled to said isla, or island.  First graders will continuously add new islands—aka sight words—to their repertoire throughout the year.  These ‘play days’ will also be interspersed with ‘project days’, which build community, expose students to other cultures and perspectives, and/or reinforce sight words with a fun, hands-on assignment.  The first project day was based on Don Quijote, the 900-page, 400+ year-old Spanish literary masterpiece by Cervantes.  In a nutshell, the adventures begin when Don Quijote goes crazy from reading too many books and decides to become a knight in shining armor like the ones he reads about.  First graders became so excited about the novel that one project day turned into a week—and the Spanish classroom transformed into a stage, where student actors and actresses acted out multiple chapters.  They even made a two-tone copy of Picasso’s famous black and white painting depicting the two main characters.  Impressive!


September: This month, students in second grade chose new identities, that is, Spanish names.  Because a majority of students wanted the same names, they had to choose a second name to help differentiate one from another.  This means that not only is there a “Sofía Isabel” in class, but also an “Isabel Sofía”—just to keep us all mentally on our toes (neurons?).   Second graders were also given cuadernos/notebooks in which to record important vocabulary, such as their new names and individual passwords.  It should be noted that the latter are primarily sea creatures, but with a dinosaur, bumblebee, and fox thrown in there just for fun.  In fact, “fox” is “zorro” in Spanish, which led to a fun mini-lesson about Zorro, the fictional character from Mexico (now California) who “defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains” (Wikipedia), and makes sure to mark the letter “Z” wherever he goes.  Second graders seemed to get a kick out of the black-and-white 1958 theme song introduction to the show.  Finally, students practiced and presented a silly dialogue with puppets in the target language, which emphasized the importance of expression: ¡Oye-oye-oye-oye!/¿Qué?/Pues, nada/¡¿En serio?! (Hey-hey-hey-hey you!/What?/Well, nothing/Seriously?!).

Resumen, 15-16 (Grade 4)

Term
1This term, students in fourth grade excitedly delved into the task of creating their own pueblo/ town.  A typical day consists of students striving to use the language in a variety of meaningful contexts and situations.  As a result, the learning environment tends to be more boisterous than not, but in a lively, jovial sort of way, where fourth graders spend their time traveling to the bank, taking out money, working at the local shops, buying, selling, bargaining, trading, and occasionally employing ‘frantic gesturing’ when they find themselves unable to recall vocabulary or simplify an idea.  Gracias for a great quarter.
2This term, students in fourth grade began opening new businesses in the pueblo/town.  For example, there are a few street musicians who play on the classroom keyboard and earn their living from passers-by; students who buy tickets to watch Sr. Wooly videos at the town movie theater; and customers who frequent the Italian Restaurant on a regular basis.  Fourth graders also spent some time away from the town to learn about outdoor street markets/mercados (in South America) as well as the importance and multi-faceted roles of street art in Argentina (e.g., graffiti, murals, political statements, etc.).  Later, they also worked on written translations as mental warm-up exercises for the beginning of class routine, and then created their own authentic mercado
3&4This semester, students in fourth grade divided their time between working in the town and getting a healthy dose of grammar.  In the latter, fourth graders ‘leveled up’ from one written translation to another, deepening their understanding of and making connections between Spanish etymologies and general syntax.  After grasping the overarching idea (of both verb conjugations and nonliteral translations), students created their own quizzes to test one another, and then worked to apply this newfound knowledge in meaningful contexts. 

For example—in addition to the town simulation—they also rehearsed and presented (partner) stories with puppets, and invented their own class story about a bear named Jellybean who lives on Mars.  Additionally, fourth graders talked about exchange rates and other currencies; learned about Cinco de Mayo; and wrapped up the year with a focus on how to ask questions in the target language.  Gracias for a fabulous year.

Resumen, 14-15 (Grade 4)

Term
1This term, students in fourth grade excitedly delved into the task of creating their own pueblo/ town.  After hailing a taxi to the airport, showing their boarding passes and boarding the plane, fourth graders sat back and relaxed, enjoyed beverages, and chatted until landing.  As they officially stepped into their town for the first time—IjusthaditvilleEspaña—the actual simulation commenced, and students signed a Language Pledge, promising to use solely the target language in the Spanish Cave.  After establishing bank accounts, buying their own mansions and designing the interior of their homes, fourth graders began looking for work and creating their own businesses. 

A typical day consists of students striving to use the language in a variety of meaningful contexts and situations.  As a result, the learning environment tends to be more boisterous than not, but in a lively, jovial sort of way, where fourth graders spend their time traveling to the bank, taking out money, working at the local shops, buying, selling, bargaining, trading, and occasionally employing ‘frantic gesturing’ when they find themselves unable to recall vocabulary or simplify an idea.  In addition to the town, fourth graders also took an ‘English day’ in order to integrate with their regular classroom curriculum, and talked about words in other languages that are untranslatable…  
2This term, students in fourth grade chose new [fruit and vegetable] identities as part of the pueblo/town simulation, with the understanding that their English name and person ‘no longer exist’ in the Spanish Cave.  In addition, fourth graders have also begun opening new businesses.  Now, for example, there are a few street musicians who play on the classroom keyboard and earn their living from passers-by (propinas/tips); students who buy tickets to watch Sr. Wooly videos at the town cine/movie theater; and generous customers who allow the party shop to thrive financially. 

However, a few strange developments have made life anything but normal: increasing tension relating to the overtly amorous conversations between a girl and her novio/boyfriend, Diego (¡Mi amor!/My love!), led several town residents to the brink of insanity.  It was therefore incumbent upon those affected to visit the town doctor(a)/doctor for some much-needed terapia/therapy.  The rabid raccoon (mapache rabioso) that escaped from the zoo also spent some time in a group treatment center.  The most effective cure?  Un abrazo/a hug.  Students—rather, citizens—refocused their attention amidst the unanticipated chaos with a call-response echo: ¿Qué queremos?/¡Queremos trabajar! (What do we want?  We want to work!).  Gracias for another memorable quarter.
3This term, students in fourth grade were required to think creatively when their beloved town was moved, well, across town (to the St. John building).  Instead of relying on the same old, same old, fourth graders delved into the challenges of a relocated classroom, err, pueblo most audaciously—redesigning, revamping, and redecorating—for the purpose of improving upon their original ideas.  Where should the panadería/bakery be located now?  What about the Azkaban prison?  How could vendors re-imagine the concept of a mercado from South and Central American countries to fit their own town? 

While this progression and conversation occurred quite naturally, it was also beautifully reflective of the creative thinking process: are students generating new ideas (divergent thinking)?  Are they taking risks?  Can they overcome and push past the mental obstacles of an idea that results in complete and utter failure?  Did they synthesize their experience into a cogent, cohesive product (convergent thinking)?  The creative thinking process manifested itself not only within the confines of the town expansion, but also in students’ linguistic development.  Do students put language together in unusual and novel ways, beyond what the teacher has taught?  Does the product work (was the message communicated effectively)?  Welcome to a new era, the age of creative thinking!  Fourth graders have hit the ground running; gracias for another magical quarter.
4This term, students in fourth grade extended their understanding of the word ‘pueblo’: the town does not only exist within the four walls of the Spanish Cave, but also beyond it… and thus a parque/park was borne.  This outing begins with a class conversation: “¿Qué queremos? Queremos ir a jugar al fútbol en el parque” (What do we want?  We want to go play soccer at the park).  Later, fourth graders request relevant vocabulary; the doctoras/doctors and enfermera/nurse pack up their medical bags in case of an emergency; and students head out to play with a Guatemalan saying on their minds, “Ganamos, perdimos, igual nos divertimos” (we win or we lose, either way we have fun). 

Partway through the game, there is a ‘half-time show’, where a talented gymnast performs complicated flips, round-offs, and cartwheels for the class; and when it is time to go, they form two lines/filas and say, “Buen partido/good game”.  Later on, students saw photos from my trip to Iguazú Falls (Cataratas de Iguazú) in Argentina; discussed what Spanglish is; and had a game week in the target language (Spanish Monopoly, rompecabezas/puzzles, La Guerra/War [card game], Spot It, and Bingo).  Prior to catching a flight back to their hometown, fourth graders took a day to learn about and taste the traditional friendship drink and famous tea of Argentina, called Yerba Mate.  Hasta la próxima (until next time)citizens of Ijusthaditville, España.  Gracias for a beautiful year.

Resumen, 13-14 (Grade 4)

Term
1This term, students in fourth grade excitedly delved into the task of creating their own pueblo/ town.  After establishing bank accounts and buying their own mansions, the actual simulation commenced.  A typical day in either Epicville (Papageorge) or Marlow Mayhem (Marlow) begins with workers being dismissed to their jobs.  Businesses open at this point include the banco/bank, juguetería/toy store, tienda de arte/art store, and teatro/theater.  Later, students travel around town, taking out money from the bank, buying what they need and want with realistic-looking euros, communicating solely in the target language, and occasionally employing ‘frantic gesturing’ when they find themselves unable to recall vocabulary or simplify an idea. 

It is amazing how innovative fourth graders become when they are desperate to express a thought.  In addition to working and living in the pueblo, students also translated key words in their constellation poems from English to Spanish; signed a Language Pledge promising not to speak English within the walls of the Spanish Cave; tweeted their favorite movies; learned how to use the internet dictionary WordReference; wrote letters to their pen-pals in Oaxaca, Mexico; and worked on a “Class Wordle” of all the words they know in the target language.  Gracias for a great start to the year!
2This term, students in fourth grade received letters and photos from their pen-pals in Oaxaca, Mexico; chose new Spanish identities, with the understanding that their English name and person ‘no longer exist’ in the Spanish Cave; tried their hand at several translation exercises; sang along with the overly dramatic Sr. Wooly video, ¿Adónde vas? (Where are you going?); and, of course, continued with their pueblo simulation.  In addition to the usual browsing, buying, selling and even trading, several instances of corruption were also witnessed; members of the police department were allowing prisoners—i.e., thieves sent to la cárcel/jail for petty crimes—to escape in exchange for [plastic green] money. 

Such blatant injustices and brazen disrespect of the law led to a ban on all criminal activities.  Later, students refocused their attention with a call-response echo in the target language: ¿Qué queremos?/ ¡Queremos trabajar! (What do we want?  We want to work!).  Other town updates as follows.  Epicville: Students have created an Apple Store, where they sell technological gadgets and devices to their peers, such as handmade laptops and teléfonos inteligentes/ SMART phones.  Marlow Mayhem: Students have added a cine/movie theater, where they sell tickets to anyone and everyone who would like to watch a show.  Gracias for another exciting quarter.
3This term, students in fourth grade focused their energies on two specific goals each class (¿Cuál es la meta?/What is the goal?).  Generally speaking, the goals tend to be to repeat a certain linguistic structure as many times and in as many relevant contexts as possible in the town simulation.  For instance, “¡No puedes hacer eso!” (You can’t do that!), “Quiero comprar eso” (I want to buy that), and “¿Por que?” (Why?), can easily be incorporated into almost any conversation.  Moreover, students who take piano lessons were permitted to play songs from memory for the citizens of Epicville or Marlow Mayhem on the classroom teclado/keyboard.  Excellent performances resulted in several very affluent musicians (propina/tip). 

In addition, fourth graders learned that Wikipedia has a wonderful translation feature on the sidebar; deduced what names of BrainPop videos were using common sense and logic (e.g., La gran explosión/The Big Bang); participated in a Virtual Word Search; rehearsed and then presented dialogues in the target language in front of their peers; generated their own linguistic discussions as they helped each other translate their pen-pal letters from Mexico, and worked on rough and final drafts of their letters, attaching tiny gifts of appreciation for their new friends (e.g., origami, beaded bracelets, stickers, etc.).  Gracias for another outstanding quarter.
4This term, students in fourth grade played Spanish Monopoly; bought mansions and created a handmade map of the town; discovered that the map is authentic and of downtown Buenos Aires, and that the main street, or Avenida 9 de Julio, happens to be one of the widest in the world (with a whopping sixteen lanes of traffic); opened up a café, and then sipped and learned about the traditional friendship drink and famous tea of Argentina, called Mate; and extended their understanding of the word ‘pueblo’: The town does not only exist within the four walls of the Spanish Cave, but also beyond it… and thus a parque/park (in which to play fútbol/soccer) was borne. 

Not long after, fourth graders learned of a dramatic new development.  The town had suffered a desastre natural/natural disaster, and as a result, no longer exists.  Following the initial shock, fourth graders began to wonder—what if your friend has a sweater and you don’t?  Rationally minded individuals suddenly become desperate, even when la fuerza/the force—illustrated by a ping-pong ball levitating above a hair dryer—is on their side.  Thankfully, the Red Cross/La Cruz Roja was able to collect and donate $50,000 to all citizens affected before things got too out of hand.  Students read the generous letter and began planning how to spend the cash (needs vs. wants).  Gracias for an incredible year. 

Resumen, 12-13 (Grade 4)

Term
1This term, students in fourth grade excitedly delved into the task of creating their own town (pueblo).  After establishing and building their own bank accounts—learning and recording teachers’ Spanish passwords was one way to earn money—the actual simulation commenced.  A typical day in the pueblo begins with fourth graders stating where they are going to work.  Businesses open at this point include the banco/ bank, juguetería/ toy store, and tienda de arte/ art store.  Later, students travel around town, taking out money from the bank, waiting in line, purchasing items, occasionally getting fined for speaking English, and buying houses or renting apartments, should they so desire.  Workers are paid with realistic looking Spanish paychecks, and students oftentimes tip their peers for a job well done.  Thanks to all residents for bringing the word p-u-e-b-l-o to life.
2This term, students in fourth grade chose new animal passwords; reviewed gerunds and incorporated them into el pueblo (e.g., trabajando/ working); settled into a routine to determine who works where each week; read and presented dialogues, and then integrated these written dialogues into the pueblo simulation; dived into challenging translation exercises (English to Spanish, which is generally more difficult than Spanish to English); and discussed Spanish accentuation.  Fourth graders also composed letters to their pen-pals in Oaxaca, Mexico.  After writing rough and final drafts in the target language, students decorated their papers with patterned designs, colorful feathers and ribbons, little pom-poms, and other fun do-dads.   Some even attached tiny gifts for their new friends.  Gracias for another great quarter.
3This term, students in fourth grade took some time to deconstruct the Spanish structures that they already know.  This was accomplished primarily via ‘wall word searches’.  That is, fourth graders had to first find the relevant signs on the walls of the Spanish Cave, and then piece together the answers for a variety of translation exercises.  The two class sections also had a friendly competition, in which students became word detectives, pouring through both translated and culturally authentic texts, searching for (and later recording) as many words and phrases as possible that they recognized in the target language. 

Fourth graders also focused on deciphering the difference between “Voy a hablar/I’m going to talk” and “Estoy hablando/I’m talking”; wrote back to their pen-pals in Mexico, and glued candy hearts with Spanish words onto the letters—e.g., AMIGO/friend; and worked on two short class plays.  The first play was a formal meeting with an unexpected visitor, while the second was more mystery-themed (the aftermath of a toy store robbery).  Finally, fourth graders made Spanish fortune tellers, or comecocos, to practice uncommon color shades for the outside flaps (primrose/prímula), and the challenging phrase, “Voy a ir” (I’m going to go), for the inside flaps.  Gracias for another great term.
4This term, students in fourth grade learned of a new dramatic development in el pueblo: A natural disaster had struck.  While they no longer had bank accounts, housing, or any physical possessions aside from the clothes on their backs, fourth graders did have… a [faux] Twitter account to vent their frustrations in the target language.  Following the initial shock, students were led through a string of real-life possibilities and emotions: Desperation, violence (i.e., a paper-ball Dodgeball war, err, game), the need to emigrate, passing through ‘customs’, Red Cross donations, et al.  When students recognized the necessity of emigration, they were shown numerous photos of Spain and Argentina, and then voted on where they wanted their new pueblo to be located. 

Both classes chose Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, and very ironically, were able to connect their simulated experience of a natural disaster in the pueblo to an actual natural disaster in the world: The flooding in Argentina over Spring Break.  Starting from the ground up, fourth graders found part-time work in a local library, and eventually moved up the corporate ladder to their dream job (masseuses, lawyers, veterinarians, etc.).  Later, students learned about and were able to sample the national tea (and very popular ‘friendship’ drink) of Argentina: Yerba Mate.  Gracias for an incredible year.