2/29/20Posted by Phyllis Hopp on 2/29/2020
Can you believe Spring Break is almost upon us? Time is definitely flying as the students are working hard and giving it their best in Spanish class!
Kingergarteners have been working hard, getting deep (very insightful answers when asked if they thought animals "spoke" Spanish!), and having a lot of fun learning about animals. Watch out in our next newsletter for the link to a song we just started singing in class to reinforce this new vocabulary : )
First- Second Grades:
The students enjoyed their Saint Valentine's Day treat of a holiday-themed (ALL in Spansh!) mini-video about a girl and the special conection she has with her cat. The students obviously could not understand all of the dialogue, but we paused multiple times to check for comprehension, predict upcoming actions, and review animal and color vocabulary. We are going to continue conceptual learning and having fun as we start our discussion of numbers!
Third- Fifth Grades:
In the spirit of Saint Valentine's Day, the students have been learning the words for famiy members and how to share what they love to do together. I designed the activities in such a way to span all three modes of communication: interpretive, presentational, and interpersonal. (In "the old days", the language learning community referred to the four skills of learning: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These skills are still at the root of language learning; however, the change in terminology reflects the paradigm shift that the end goal is genuine communication: learners should be able to interpret information (either written or spoken), share information (again, in written or spoken form) to an audience of one or one hundred) and have genuine exchanges with another person. They did a wonderful job writing and illustrating ther ideas, and then fearlessly walked around and, in a level-appropriate way, interviewed their classmates... all in Spanish! When we came back together as a group, they were excited to share what they had learned about each other! (I also want to let you know that it warmed my heart to hear HOW MUCH love they have for all of you and the tremendous joy they get out of spending time with you. It was never about big shopping trips or huge vacations; it was playing cards, baking cookies, snuggling while watching a funny movie. They think you are AWESOME, and I thought you should know that : )
Students are continuing to give it their best as they deveop their accuracy and fluency with verbs. A project encompasing all they have been learning will be introduced after Spring Break! They also have done individual reserach finding interesting (to a middle-schooler!) facts on a Spanish-speaking country. They wll be using this information as a basis for a geogrtaphy project toward the end of the year.
Seventh graders have been working hard and focusing on increasing their ablity to communicate by learning a variety of verbs from their life experiences, all the while continuing to actively use previously acquired information. This constant recyclling and layered building will increase their confidence and ability to communicate!
After a good brainstormog session about when the clock really matters, students are becoming experts at telling time in Spanish!
1/31/20Posted by Phyllis Hopp on 1/31/2020
We hit the ground running after the break and it has been an exciting start to 2020! It has been tremendous watching the elementary students increase their vocabulary base in Spanish (and their confidence in using it!), and seeing the middle school students make connections about how the language works, and more importantly, see that they are really communicating in it!
The students have been engaged in a variety of activities as they continue to learn and communicate with colors. They each even had the opportuity to be "the teacher" at the board: telling the class to repeat after them, asking questions about the color of an item, and calling on students to answer...all in Spanish; they loved it! We read the classic "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" which served to reinforce their color vocbulary, as well as introduce our next main topic of animals! (Ask your child to share some of the animals and their colors, along with the associated gestures they learned!) Second language acquisition research shows that when children engage in physical motions conneced to new material, comprehension is increased and the information is retained longer : )
First- Second Grades:
Our professional organization, ACTFL (The American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages), promotes students being able to compare and contrast traditions and perspectives of other cultures with their own. As a pre-cursor to this, the students learned about how Three Kings Day is celebrated in various Spanish-speaking countries. Along the way, I taught physical gestures to associate with the different elements of the holiday. Second language acquisition research shows that when children engage in physical motions conneced to new material, comprehension is increased and the information is retained longer! They got to be the "teacher" in front of the room and ask the class (in Spanish!) what the different actions represented; they LOVED it!
Third- Fifth Grades:
The students have been learning how to say what their favorite Christams gift was in Spanish, and then asking each other (in Spanish!) aboiut their classmates' favorites, all in a genuinely meaningful and communicative way! (This means that they aren't memorizing word lists just for the sake of "learning" them; rather, they have a real reason to interact with someone (they want to get information and they want to share info). Our professional organization, ACTFL (The American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages), promotes students being able to compare and contrast traditions and perspectives of other cultures with their own. The students did a wonderful job on this when we were discussing how Three King's Day is celebrated in various Spanish-speaking countries. (WHAT???? Waiting until the January for gifts???? Ouch!!!!!)
Eighth Grade: Students started back after their break with learning how to ask each other about their special activities during Christmas. I used this to jumpstart some serious work on pronunciation, all while they have been continuing to develop their working-knowledge of verbs. Last week I was going to ask one of the students to ask Mrs. Cawley for a coughdrop, but I stopped. I asked the students to ask one of their classmates for me. I gave them the verb that means "to ask for" (we haven't learned that group of verbs yet) and asked them to put it together. A few of them epressed hesitation. A few of them, I think, just prayed I wouldn't call on them! I told them, "You've GOT this! You've got all the tools! USE them to say what you want!" It turned into an awesome review of indirect object pronouns (a topic introduced before Thanksgiving) and a perfect, real-life pre-intro to direct object pronouns...and the kids got totally into it! What if we want to ask Mrs. Cawley and Mrs Weber? only Officer Stec? everyone but Mrs. Weakland? What if we want to ask for a few coughdrops? (Number concept is big in Spanish.) What if we want to ask for something else? (Nouns have gender in Spanish/affects pronoun choice.) What if we want to ask two people to go because we are askig for something heavy?(Depending on whom you're asking would change the verb conjugation.) I know I am going on and on a bit, but that is because it was such an "Ah Ha" moment for the students! And they were ALL involved! (They know even praying won't keep them from participating in Spanish class!!) Seriously, they were all so proud of themselves and they most definitely should be!!
Sixth and Seventh Grades: Sixth and Seventh Graders have been totally engaged as they presented their semester projects! Please see below for grade topics. They were completed in class and covered a number of class periods, including the project creation and then presentation to their classmates. Overall they did a wonderful job! I am a strong proponent that the whole point of learning a second language is genuine communication, and genuine communiacation needs to be meaningful and interactive! I thus structured the projects in such a manner that the presenters and audience members had to interact with each other to request and provide information; it was AWESOME to see them engaging in this real, communicative exchange!
Sixth Grade: The Crazy Store! / numbers through sixty and classroom objects
Seventh Grade: Our OWN Dialogues! : partners set the context and create/write/and perform their own dialogues (including all topics thus learned)
12/20/19Posted by Phyllis Hopp on 12/20/2019
¡Hola and Feiz Navidad! It is definitely a blessed season here at OLV!
We took a pause from our curent instructional topics and got into the Christams spirit, singing carols, learning about Three Kings Day, a holiday with great significance in many Spanish speaking countries, and/or exploring Las Posadas, a beautiful Mexican Christmas tradition!
Eighth Graders have been giving it their best as they have been deepening their knowledge of how verbs really function in Spanish. This is a huge component of setting a strong foundation for their acquisition of Spanish, and I do not mean solely for grasping this concept of verb conjugation academically, but more importantly so that they can genuinely and confidently talk to, about, and with others for fun!
Sixth and Seventh Graders have been totally engaged and working hard on their semester projects! Please see below for grade topics. They will be completed in class over a number of class periods, including the project creation and then presentation to their classmates in the new year. (NOTHING required over the break : )
Sixth Grade: The Crazy Store! : numbers through sixty and classroom objects
Seventh Grade: Our OWN Dialogues! : partners set the context and create/write/and perform their own dialogues (including all topics thus learned)
11/27/19Posted by Phyllis Hopp on 11/27/2019
Where is time going??? We are already eating turkey and Advent is around the corner! Students are continuing to give it their best!
Kindergarten: The students have been very engaged as we read a book titled ,"Dónde Está...?"/ "Where Is...?". They loved the physical gestures I introduced as we read the story, and they were very dramatic as they did them themselves, along with articulating the accompanying Spanish words and phrases, to work together to re-tell the story! It involved some basic shape, locational preposition, and animal vocabulary. The book was in black and white, and many students were quick to point out that, "...the colors were missing!" This was my intention, and I used it to just start introducing colors last week : )
Also, below please find the link to the upbeat song, "Buenos Días", in which the students had fun learning some common phrases and daily activities; ask your child to "teach" it to you if you have time!
First - Second Grades: Students have been working on a Thanksgiving activity and exploring how they can express in Spanish some of the things for which they are most grateful. It has warmed my heart to see how much so many of them appreciate their Catholic faith in their lives, as I answered questioms such as "How do I say church?", "How do I say my cross?", and "How do I say all the saints?". I say a prayer of thanks every day for the opportunity to work with your beautiful children : )
Third - Fifth Grades: Your children are AWESOME!!! We had been discussing the traditional Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, in which deceased family members are remembered and honored. I saw a craft that involved the students creating their own "ofrendas" or altars, an integral element in the customary celebration. I felt the students would love it, and the making of it would help their learning be more meaningful. (I, on the otherhand, was way out of my comfort zone! I do not have one "craft-y" gene in my body! However, I always ask the students to push themselves to speak Spanish, even if it doesn't feel comfortable at first, so in the spirit of empathy and "walking the walk", I ordered the activity...and started to sweat!!) It is taking a little longer than I had planned, but the students have been very excited working on it! They have also been sooo helpful helping each other during the tricky parts of the altar construction. I also want to let you know that I have loved hearing the stories they have shared with me about the person they chose to honor. Many of the students did not actually know the deceased family member, but they were defnitely listening as you shared your stories about what made them so special in your family. Your children are kind, funny, patient, giving people who feel things deeply.... and having the opportunity to work with them is one of my biggest blessings!
All students have been continuing to improve their fluency with common classroom questions and courtesies, as well as improving their receptive comprehension of Spanish input (often in the form of crazy Sra. Hopp stories : ) I want to tell you that I am inspired by your children; they are brave and open and hard-working, and I am blessed to be able to work with them!
Sixth Grade: Students have been working on classroom vocabulary and numbers from twenty through one hundred. They have been great at finding and expressing patterns in the number chain, and grasping the rationale behind doing so: when they understand something versus just memorizing, they increase their ability to retain, and thus use the new information!
Seventh Grade: Students have been working on an additional way to express time in Spanish. Overall, they are doing a super job getting comfortable hearing and using a ton of Spanish!
Eighth Grade: Students have been busy reviewing and expanding their knowledge of subjects, pronouns and verbs. They have done a great job of pushing themselves (and puttig up with my excited "AHA!s" ) as we have tackled a particularly challenging grammatical concept that does not exist in English.
10/28/19Posted by Phyllis Hopp on 10/28/2019
Time is flying as your children have been working hard and getting comfortable using Spanish in class!
Kindergarten: Students had a great time hearing about the little mouse and his entrance into Kindergarten! They were enthusiastic participants as I engaged them in pre-, during, and post- reading activities, all of which work to increase student comprehension. (I would do this in English, "sandwiched" by the equivalent in Spanish, and sometimes only in Spanish with lots of visual and/or physical gestures as support. They did a great job!) The students have been enjoying learrning how to express a few common phrases and daily activities with an upbeat song we've just started, "Buenos Días". I think dancing and movement make everything more fun (the educational researchers have also shown that, when learninng new material, it promotes comprehension and longer-term retention!), so I created actions to go along with each portion of the song. We will finish it and I will share the link next time so they can "teach" you : )
First - Third Grades: Students have been engaged in a variety of learning activities with colors. They have had the opportunity to be the "teacher" in class and use a fly swatter and magic bag as they led the class in some exciting games! Whatever activity I use or create, I always ensure that there is an element of genuine communication going on. It is not about learning lists of vocabulary; it's about using the vocabulary in a meaningful way!
Fourth - Fifth Grades: As they have been reviewing color vocabulary, students have gotten familiar with classroom procedures for working in pairs and small groups (an integral element of our Spanish class), as well as working in whole group activties. With only thirty minutes once a week, it is crucial to maximize every minute. The students have been very attentive (great job!) to the various transition procedures, which allows us to engage in more genuinely communicative activities! They are giving it their best as they start to explore a topic of classroom objects and materials.
Students have been working hard and rising to the challenge of using as much Spanish as possible in class! As the semster moves on, please remind your student that it will take consistent and active participation to get full credit for classwork and participation activities. (As the sixth grade students have been getting acclimated to a high level of Spanish input and the requirement of them using what they know when speaking, I have been lenient with grading for those students who were outide of their comfort zone.) Overall, all middle-schoolers have been doing a very good job, and it has been extremely rewarding for me to see those students, who were initially reluctant to offer answers or ask questions (or looked basically terrified!) as I was talking in Spanish, to now see them actively contributing and taking risks in Spanish! This is due in large part to the AMAZING group of young people here at OLV! They are kind and respectful to each other and have really created a sense of community and genuine caring in our classroom..all of which is crucial to having students put themselves out there when learning a second language.
Sixth grade is getting comfortabe with our "Important Questions" for Spanish class. (In this way,they are using Spanish in a genuine way to ask questions and take charge of their learning. Awesome!) and starting a review of classroom items. Seventh is going to be introduced to the grammatical concept of "formal vs informal/friendly", which is setting the stage for a skit they will be working on, while eighth will be taking the lexical items and grammatical structures learned previously ("gustar", "ser", adjectives, -AR verbs) and using them at a more complex level.
9/30/19Posted by Phyllis Hopp on 9/30/2019
What a wonderful few weeks! There has been a lot of learning and fun going on as we have been getting to know each other and come to an understanding of classroom expectations and procedures.
Grades K - 5:
I see these students once a week for thirty minutes and we maximize every minute! The students have been reviewing and expanding on ways people introduce themselves and learn information about new people they meet. This week, Kindergarteners will be exposed to Spanish classroom and color vocabulary as they read a book about the exciting adventures of a mouse during his first days of school! First through fifth graders will be enriching their Spanish color vocabulary, fourth and fifth graders have also been introduced to adjectives to describe their personalities, and all students have been learning useful phrases for whole class and small group activities!
We have had a tremendous beginning to the school year, working together to establish a sense of community in each of the Spanish classes. Learning a second language involves taking risks, and that is why it is imperative to create an atmosphere of team-work and respect in our Spanish classroom. One of the ways a student feels comfortable in class is by being very clear on what the expectations are, and in our classes, my expectation is that the students are going to hear and produce the most Spanish possible. The students have really risen to this challenge! The students have learned a variety of new phrases and questions that are already helping them to comprehend increased Spanish input in class, as well as express their needs and share their thoughts in Spanish! (I love this!!) On differentiatedd levels of diffiuculty, we have been introducing/reviewing/expanding upon colors and numbers, the alphabet, as well as adjectives, verbs, and other topics for 8th graders, and then using them in genuinely communicative activities. After conducting assessments across all three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational) earlier, I planned this re-visit to the basics for the older students with a dual purpose in mind: strengthen the students' proficiency in these areas and also use these topics as a vehicle to get students accustomed (the seventh and eighth graders already know...there is no escaping : ) to really using what they know in a meaningful way!