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How Sonrisas Spanish Has Changed

Sonrisas Spanish is going through a big transition right now. We have completely revised our Level II Curriculum, and we have changed what is included with our Level I and Level II curricula. These changes are the culmination of over a year’s worth of research and development, and they represent an effort to make our curriculum more user-friendly and complete for teachers and more effective for students.

What is included with the curriculum now?

We heard from many of customers that they wanted workbook activities for their students. We listened, and we developed our Student Portfolio for Levels I and II (we will write about the difference between a workbook and a portfolio in future blogs). Each level now includes the Student Portfolio in both a hard copy and a digital version, and the portfolio is fully reproducible. The Level I Student Portfolio contains portfolio activities, student assessment pages, and home reports. The portfolio activities correspond to each lesson in the curriculum and give students practice with the language concepts for the lesson. The portfolio activities also help to develop independent reading and writing skills in Spanish. The student assessment pages give teachers a tool to evaluate student learning, and the home reports let parents know what their child is learning in Spanish.

The Level II Student Portfolio contains portfolio activities, Partner Time activities, student assessment pages, and home reports. Partner Time activities correspond to each lesson and give students the opportunity to engage in conversation with their peers as they use their Spanish to complete a task. During Partner Time, students use all three modes of communication—interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational. Partner Time has greatly enhanced the learning experience for students in the Level II lessons.

Level I and Level II also now include a resource CD. The resource CD contains visual aids for the lessons as well as a digital version of the Student Portfolio. Many of the activities in the Sonrisas lessons require teachers to show students images to introduce a concept. These images are now included on the resource CD. Likewise, many of the art projects require teachers to show the students a model of a finished project. Now, a teacher can print out a model of a finished art project instead of having to create it herself.

How has Level II been revised?

The first thing to note about the new Level II is that it has more than doubled in content. We added 17 new lessons, for a total of 37. With Partner Time and the portfolio activities, each lesson can now be implemented for up to four class sessions (up from two in the old curriculum). The Student Portfolio alone has added 74 Partner Time and portfolio activities that give students more practice with the language concepts for each lesson.

Another positive change is that Level II is now organized around seven thematic units: Seasons; My School; Numbers; My Family and Friends; Food, Water, and Shelter; A Global Perspective; and Celebrating Diversity. Each unit comes with an unit overview that guides teachers on how to make the unit a comprehensive, connected, and effective experience for students. Many of the unit lessons connect to the core subjects of mathematics, social studies, geography, science, and reading and writing. The lessons also begin to lay the foundation for more explicit grammar instruction with students developing skills related to use of adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, interrogative words, and verb conjugation. The correlation to grammatical concepts can be seen in a revised Level II scope and sequence.

We tweaked the lesson format and some of the terminology to make lessons more clear and easier to use for teachers. On the Lesson Overview page, we changed the name of the Performance Guidelines to Language Outcomes. The Language Outcomes are the language skills that students learn in the lesson in order to achieve the Communication Objective. Also on the overview page, the Circle Time box now highlights the Lesson Activity which introduces the language concepts for the lesson. On the Lesson Procedure page, the required resource CD images for the lesson are listed, and the Standard Correlations are now listed at the end of each procedure as opposed to throughout the lesson. Each lesson now also has a Partner Time page which guides teachers through the partner time activity, step-by-step. Click here to see a sample of one of the new Level II lessons. These formatting changes have been made to the Level I lessons as well.

Finally, both Levels I and II have been greatly improved by making it easier for teachers to assess students’ learning. The new student portfolios give teachers the opportunity to use both formative and summative assessments (more on these in future blogs) to monitor and evaluate student learning. This allows teachers to be able to adjust their teaching if need be, and to judge the outcome of their classes. The retooling of the assessment portion of the Sonrisas lessons has made them more effective than ever.

All of these changes build on the strengths of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum and reinforce our goal of creating life-long language learners by providing students with a positive foreign language experience in which they acquire and develop language naturally and easily.

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