Sonrisas Feature Teacher – Rebecca SchackowBrooks
Meet Rebecca Schackow
Rebecca graduated from the University of Florida in 1999 with a degree in Spanish and Education. She moved to Denver, CO where she helped create the elementary and middle school Spanish program at St. Thomas Moore Catholic School. After teaching for two years, Rebecca moved back to Florida and spent twelve years raising her children. Two years ago she was offered the opportunity to teach Spanish at Brentwood School in Gainesville. Rebecca teaches Spanish to every class at Brentwood—two year olds to 5th grade—with each level receiving one class per week ranging from 15 to 30 minutes long. She travels to the preschool classrooms, and the elementary students come to her Spanish room for class.
How Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Rebecca
Rebecca started using Sonrisas Level I with all of her classes last year. The content was the same for everyone, but she differentiated the activities for age, space, and length of class time. She does not do any of the art projects with the preschoolers—instead doing a completely oral class with the songs, games, and stories. Rebecca appreciates the literature component of the Sonrisas curriculum. She remarks, “Children love books!” Rebecca values the time saved planning and trying to find good books in Spanish, with good illustrations, that fit the topics her students are studying. She says, “Sonrisas has done that research for me—what a gift!” Rebecca follows the Sonrisas curriculum pretty closely and moves at a slow and steady pace with her students. Last year she completed twelve lessons from Sonrisas Level I, and she expects to complete another twelve lessons this year. Last December Rebecca’s fourth and fifth grade classes practiced and performed the “Las Posadas” play (Lesson 32 in Sonrisas Level I) for some of the younger classes. They studied the history behind Las Posadas and practiced speaking and singing the lines of the play that is included in the curriculum. With simple costumes and props they performed the play, and it was wonderful.
Teaching Tips from Rebecca
Rebecca suggests that teachers need to be willing to look up something or create a new lesson plan if students show a real interest in a particular topic. For example, one of her students asked if they could learn the dance “Macarena.” Rebecca found a teaching video on YouTube, learned the dance, and taught it to her students. It was a lot of fun and a great way to get the wiggles out before class. Students learned about who wrote the song, who made the dance, where the song originated, and more. Rebecca says, “It was a great lesson—and one that I had never intended!”
What Inspires Rebecca
Rebecca is inspired by learning. She loves to learn new things, and she loves to help people learn new things. She has loved studying and learning Spanish throughout her life and is thankful to be able to share what she knows with the children at Brentwood School. She finds Spanish to be a beautiful language that is fun to learn. Rebecca hopes to pass along her love of the language to her students.
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.