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Thinking Ahead to Next School Year

At this time of year, when classes are wrapping up, and students and teachers alike are getting excited for summer break, it can be helpful to think ahead to next school year and what you will do with your elementary Spanish classes. The Acquire, Develop, Learn methodology that we created here at Sonrisas Spanish guides the way the levels in the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum work together and gives you a path for the direction of your Spanish classes. It is important to note that each level of the Sonrisas curriculum is meant to be repeated for up to two years. This is by design. The repetition is beneficial for your students in that they are able to use their prior knowledge in the second year of instruction and take their learning to a deeper level.

For Level I students, if this is their first year of classes with Level I, then you should repeat the Level I lessons with them next year. If you finished all the Level I lessons this year, you can start at the beginning and repeat all of the lessons. If you did not get through all the lessons, you can either start where you left off or you can repeat some of the introductory lessons as a warm up then start where you left off—this goes for all levels. If you wish to differentiate the lessons in the second year, you can choose to do a different art project or read a different storybook. Usually, with our own classes, we repeat the exact same lesson. Another benefit of this repetition is that the familiarity that students have with the lessons puts their minds in a very receptive state for learning. Often times, when repeating a lesson from the previous year, I’ll hear students remark, “Oh I remember this!”

For Level II students who are doing their second year of instruction, it is a good idea to have them choose a different partner for the Partner Time activities. There is more content in Level II, so there is a good chance that you will not finish all of the lessons in one school year. In this case, it’s a good idea to finish the Level II lessons in the second year of instruction—whether you start with some warm up lessons or not at the beginning of the school year. Also in the second year of Level II instruction you can encourage your students to challenge themselves by reading the directions for the student portfolio activities in Spanish.

For Level III, we have found that the repetition of the grammar lessons is extremely beneficial for students. For most elementary students grammar concepts are still very new and can be challenging especially when applied to a second language, so it’s very helpful to have a second year of instruction with the same topics. Level III students who are doing their second year of lessons will also have the opportunity to differentiate and expand their learning in the TPRS story segment of the lessons. Even though the outline for the story is still the same, students can create a totally new story with new details, and this gives you the opportunity to expand the interpersonal communication from the first year.

It is helpful to remember that the Sonrisas Cultural Curriculum gives you supplemental lessons that you can intersperse throughout the year. The Calendar Time Curriculum also gives you lots of activities that can differentiate the content of your lessons if you so desire. A typical progression for using the Calendar Time activities can be as follows:

First year of instruction in Level I: focus on the daily, month, season, and weather activities. Do not introduce the alphabet.

Second year of instruction in Level I: continue daily, month, season, and weather activities from the first year and add alphabet activities.

First year of instruction in Level II: continue daily, month, season, and weather activities, continue alphabet activities, and add geography activities.

Second year of instruction in Level II: continue daily, month, season, weather, alphabet, and geography activities.

Level III: continue with alphabet activities—spelling is also a part of every lesson. Continue with geography activities—these can be coordinated with the cultural theme for each lesson or you can simply continue with what hasn’t been covered from the Calendar Time Curriculum.

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