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Get the Most Out of Art Time in Spanish Class

In Levels I and II of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum, the Art Time segment draws on student’s intrapersonal, linguistic, kinesthetic, and spacial intelligences. Children love to manipulate, create, build, explore, and imagine. The process of making art in Spanish class gives them a a sense of accomplishment and a physical visual aid for remembering and using their Spanish.

For the teacher, Art Time provides the opportunity to reinforce the performance objectives for the lesson and engage in interpersonal communication in Spanish. To get the most out of Art Time, remember these three things: model the art project, reinforce performance targets, and extend interpersonal communication.

Model the Art Project

When you model the art project for your students, you increase the chance that they will complete the art project successfully. This is especially true for really young learners if you teach preschool or elementary Spanish. Seeing a physical model of the art project gives them a visual goal and an example which they can follow.

You have a couple of different ways that you can model the art project for your students. The first is to display the art project model images which are included on the Resource CD. These images show a version of a completed art project for each lesson in Sonrisas Level I and Sonrisas II.

The second way is for you to make the art project yourself and then show it to your students. This gives you the benefit of knowing what it takes to complete the art project so that you can better facilitate your students when they do it.

You may even want to put together the art project in class while your students observe. This can be very effective because they will see all of the steps involved. Modeling the steps with the different art materials also provides effective comprehensible input. This means you can stay in Spanish while you explain the steps.

Reinforce Performance Targets

The basic idea during Art Time is that students complete an art project which is related to the theme of the lesson. But much more that simply having students do something fun and engaging, the art project provides the opportunity to reinforce the performance targets for the lesson.

The goal for the teacher is to engage students in one-on-one conversations in Spanish while they work on the art project. Because the project is related to the theme of the lesson, you will be able to incorporate the vocabulary and phrases included in the performance targets as part of these conversations.

For example, in Lesson 12 of Sonrisas Level I, La familia, the performance targets are:

  • Students identify family members in Spanish.
  • Students comprehend the question, “¿Quién es?
  • Students answer the question using the phrase, “Es mi mamá/ papá/ hermano/ hermana/abuelo/ abuela/ tío/ tía/ primo/ prima.

For the art project, students create a collage of different family members using paper dolls. As they work on this, you can reinforce the performance targets for the lesson by pointing to their project and asking, “¿Quién es?” You can then facilitate as they respond to the question by providing them with a model of the correct answer or repeating correct responses. While students are engaged working on the art project you can get lots of repetitions with the performance targets by continually going around and engaging in these one-on-one conversations.

Extend Interpersonal Communication

Art Time also provides a great way to extend your interpersonal communication with students beyond just reinforcing the performance targets. Because students are working individually, your one-on-one conversations can be really focused and differentiated for each learner. You can choose what types of concepts, vocabulary, and phrases that you want to reinforce with each student.

First, you can check for meaning with previously-learned material. This provides you with a way to do an observational formative assessment. For example, the two lessons prior to the La familia lesson cited above, are Mi cuerpo and La ropa. While students work on the collage of family members, you can use the collage to check for comprehension and usage of performance targets from those two lessons by asking questions such as:

  • ¿Cuál parte de cuerpo es?
  • ¿De qué color es el pelo de tu hermano?
  • ¿Tu papá lleva una chaqueta?
  • ¿Qué lleva tu mamá?

Second, you can differentiate your communication for learners at different levels. For learners who are still developing their comprehension and speaking skills at a beginner level, you can ask simple “yes” or “no” questions about their art project. For learners who are at a more advanced level you can connect your communication to their daily lives using more advanced questions and vocabulary.

The goal for the Sonrisas Level I and Level II curriculum is to give students the opportunity to acquire and develop their Spanish acquisition. To that end, each segment of the lessons is strategically designed to promote language acquisition. You will get the most out of Art Time when you incorporate the practices of modeling the art project, reinforcing performance targets, and extending interpersonal communication.


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