Sonrisas Feature Teacher—Katy HarrisBrooks
Meet Katy Harris
Katy Harris began teaching kindergarten in 1993 in Steamboat Springs, CO after attending the University of Arizona and receiving her degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish and an endorsement in bilingual education. In 2005 Katy took a break from teaching to raise her two boys. During this time she tutored and taught Spanish to a homeschool co-op group of elementary through middle school students. When she returned to teaching in the public schools in 2012, she taught reading intervention and then landed a job teaching Spanish at Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat. Katy teaches grades K-5th , seeing almost 600 students once per week for fifty minutes as part of the Specials team. In her first year teaching Spanish, she traveled to the different classrooms with a cart, which was very challenging. She is now fortunate to have her own classroom where she creates a lively and immersive Spanish environment. Soda Creek Elementary recently received the John Irwin School of Excellence award given by the Colorado Department of Education.
How Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Katy
Katy uses Sonrisas Level I and Level II for her K-3rd grade students, and she adapts content from those lessons for her 4th and 5th graders. She recently purchased Sonrisas Level III and is planning on diving in with that for her older students. Katy loves the literature that accompanies the lessons, and she feels that the storybooks really help her connect with her students. She says that the literature helps them to stay grounded in their Spanish—especially when she has only a limited amount of time with them. She also appreciates how the storybooks in the lessons are effective at helping students retain language concepts. In short, Katy thinks that the Sonrisas lessons really stick with her students.
Teaching Tips from Katy
A common practice for Katy is to have students hold on to the art projects from the lessons so that she can use them for review. She’ll have students write phrases, vocabulary, and questions from the lessons on their art projects and then review with them—often times holding on to them for weeks—before sending them home. Katy’s 1st-5th grade students have composition books in which they glue many of the art projects and write key phrases and vocabulary. Katy will then use these for review throughout the year. This also provides her students with a nice portfolio-like product that they can use for reading and review and that they can show to parents at the end of the year.
In her classroom, Katy sets up a variety of different stations for her students where they can practice their Spanish through reading, writing, games, and interacting with the many visuals in the room. Her younger students do an activity where they “write around the room”—they search for words from the various classroom visuals and write them on white boards. Katy also mentions that she likes to keep her students moving.
What Inspires Katy
Katy loves the subject she teaches and believes that learning languages is fascinating. She likes that she gets to have a lot of fun with her job, and she enjoys singing, acting, and being dramatic. She loves the energy of working with children and having the opportunity to learn alongside them. She feels that teaching elementary Spanish is a great profession because she gets to grow and learn more every day. Katy really enjoys that she is able to help kids realize that learning Spanish is an attainable goal.
If you would like to connect with Katy, you can do so by emailing her at email@example.com.
Sonrisas Feature Teacher celebrates teachers who are using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum and tells their stories. If you know someone who would be a good candidate for a Sonrisas Feature Teacher, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.