Well…I am six weeks into the Fall Trimester, and, I need a new groove with my Spanish 4 classes. I have been using a modified Advanced Placement® (AP®) curriculum, and, while the students have responded positively to it, I think it is much too rigorous for them. Especially given the preparation with which they enter Spanish 4. I’ll leave it there. I experienced the same with last year’s Spanish 4 class. And, I will leave it there. Given the wide range of students I teach, and, given the fact that there is no there is no actual curriculum per se – we kinda make it up as we go along from year to year, which isn’t actually the best approach – I have decided to approach things differently during the remaining seven weeks of the trimester. And beyond.
So, I thought very carefully about what the students needed most, which are: multiple opportunities to actually use Spanish in a variety of contexts, write for different purposes, and, learn new grammar skills and vocabulary, while also reviewing those previously-learned.
So…I have decided to approach Spanish 4 from a three-pronged perspective: Grammar, vocabulary, and culture, using authentic Spanish resources and quality literature, and activities in and out of the classroom to develop speaking and writing skills. I am contemplating the idea of a portfolio, where students can store their writing: brainstorming, class work, homework, and graded assessments. I am contemplating the same for speaking assignments. I am also contemplating the use of journals. I had a fair amount of success with them last year, but, maybe I will introduce those during the second trimester.
I think the issue with Spanish 4, as I see it, is that there are so many different interpretations of what it is, and should be, as revealed by the numerous curricula I have reviewed in my attempts to create one that is the best fit for my own students. If I remain focused on and dedicated to the aforementioned, I will be more successful in my teaching at this level.
Today was a good class for my Spanish 4s, of which I have two sections. We began with a “question of the day”, using the imperfect subjunctive and conditional. First, the students wrote their responses. Then, each student shared their responses in turn. When students do this activity, I like to extend their responses by asking them additional, related questions. This was followed by a lesson on comparatives of inequality. The students were varied in their recall and ability/confidence to use the construction. Therefore, we did a short lesson, followed by hands-on practice, and review of the answers. This proved to be a good activity. Not only were the students reviewing a previously-learned concept, but they also learned the difference between demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, and how to use them, since they were part of the lesson examples, and, the sentences to be translated. They also learned the difference between older and younger, via me speaking about them in relation to their older and younger siblings. With my second section of Spanish 4s, we had a good conversation why estar and not ser, had to be used when talking about a person being rotund. After all, two students posited, a person can lose weight, right? After a short five-minute break, we watched a short CNN en Español video on the use of therapy dogs in airports. We decompressed the video with the classic journalism questions: Who?, What? , When?, Where?, How? and Why?. The students enjoyed the video, especially since it involved dogs, and, many of them are dog owners/lovers.
Following some bumps and mis-steps during the first six weeks of the trimester, I think I am on the right path with Spanish 4.