“La frase de la semana” or phrase of the week is a great opportunity to teach useful language. I try to use phrases that I know we can incorporate into our classes. I teach grades K-5, but I only use it with my students in grades 3-5.
We make it part of our routine. I keep a poster with the phrase of the week taped on the door. I sometimes teach classes back to back, and having this routine can buy me an extra minute while I am getting everything ready for the next class. My students wait for me in a line outside my class.
La frase de la semana serves as their password to enter the classroom. It takes about two minutes on average, so children know that they need to find their place quietly in the room and read the “Plan de la clase” to find out what we will be doing (although there are days when this goes more smoothly than other days). I don’t have a variety of classroom jobs because I find the logistics hard for me, but I do have a “secretario” and “secretaria” who help by passing out materials when needed, sharpen pencils, turns lights on and off, and so on. After children have practiced with it and have the routine down pat, I sometimes ask the secretarios to help me by staying by the door and listening to their classmates say la frase de la semana. I love when they start using those sentences in natural ways and in the context of the class. It’s magical when I start to hear spontaneous remarks like “¡Qué chévere!” or “¿Qué tal Sra. Gómez?” when students see me during recess or in the hallway.
Here are some of the phrases I have used:
¡A mí también!
You can also find more phrases on “Mis cositas.” Lori Langer de Rámirez is so generous and shares tons of resources on her blog. Make sure to stop by her blog and download “Passwords perfectos.”
Ben Slavic also has a wonderful site with tons of CI/TPRS resources. He shares a list of great rejoinders that can also be used with la frase de la semana.
Feeling ready to start with la frase de la semana? Download this free resource that will help you get ready!
I strongly believe that teaching a language through movement, games, and songs should be the main approach when teaching young learners. However, this age group also enjoys engaging in some hands on activities. After all, most young children are makers at heart.
This set(available on TpT) will provide simple activities with minimum cutting and basic coloring. I also included some of my songs that I know my younger students enjoy. When using Interactive Notebooks I advise teachers to have the children cut out the pieces and glue them onto the notebook before coloring. That way, it will be easier for children to keep all the pieces together.
There are several activities where envelopes will be required, but you can still create your own. Interactive Notebooks are a lot of fun!
This bundle includes teaching tips, audio files for the songs and version of the activities for folders and composition notebooks. Also see my post about using Interactive Notebooks with upper elementary Spanish classes.
Have fun in your journey using Interactive Notebooks!
This a list of what I have in my classroom and can’t survive a school year without any of these materials.
Chime: Sometimes we need breaks from using call-and-response chants or clapping our hands. I have found a three tone chime* that works well because it gives enough time for my students to settle down.
Map: I had a hard time finding a map that was simple enough for my elementary students. Luckily I came across this map on Pinterest, and it has been the best purchase ever. You can find it at Spanish Cuentos.
Puppets and Plush Toys: Puppets and plush toys are a great tool in language teaching. I love when my students make connections with some of them. They become one more member of the class. Visit my post where I talk about the use of puppets in a world language class.
Special Chair: I have a chair that my students use when we sing to them to celebrate their birthdays in class. They all look forward to having a chance to sit on that chair in class. They also get a small gift from me which is usually a pencil, eraser, or small craft from Colombia. They also get a birthday certificate. Click here to download some free ones for your classes!
Play Parachute: Every single one of my students seems to love parachute time, no matter how old they are. It’s always fun to use parachutes for a brain break. I have written a few posts about how I use them in my classes:
Authentic Art: I love displaying art from different Spanish speaking countries. I usually label items to show where they come from.
Favorite Music Playlist: Thank goodness for YouTube! I love how you can easily make lists of your favorite songs. I like creating playlists by grade levels. Here is a list of some of my go-to channels:
Flags: I have flags and posters from the different Spanish speaking countries. You can display them all at once or take them out one at a time when you do the country of study. This pack is available on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Pointers: I found a really awesome set of pointers* that I use while looking at our “Plan de la clase” as well as when we play interactive games on the Smart Board. These ones have been the best so far! I have had them for about two years now:
List of Brain Breaks: Brain breaks are great not only to get your students’ attention back, but also for you to take a break as a teacher. I keep a list of brain breaks and yoga cards handy. Download free yoga cards here!
Simple Picture Books: Last year I started a library in my classroom. So far the books that have worked best are books with minimal text and also books that the children are already familiar with in English.
Movies: Sometimes I like using movies right before the break when I know a lot of my students will be missing. I also use them when I am out and can’t find a sub that speaks Spanish, or just being honest, to take a break!
Balls: Yes, balls of different sizes to play games or ask questions!
Instruments: Playing with these is something my younger students really enjoy!
Apron: This is not a “must,” but it has been great for me to stop putting things in my pockets when I am teaching. I used to always end up emptying my pockets of an assortment of things at home that should have stayed at school instead of hitching a ride with me – things like tiny pointers, markers, pencils, and the classroom keys. This is the one I plan to use this school year. I am especially excited about the llamas on this one!
What is something you think I should add to this list? Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments box.
This is a short traditional poem that is perfect to teach a little bit of geography of the Spanish speaking countries, and also numbers from 1 to 10.
Use a map to locate Perú. If you have technology at handy, take a virtual trip to Perú using Google Earth. You can find pictures and short videos about Perú. Make sure you prepare in advance, and choose the material you would like to share with your students.
This poem is also used to jump the rope! You can challenge your students to count beyond number ten. It can also be used as a cooperative game to learn names. See videos below!
Social Justice in a world language class is a topic that I feel a lot of passion about. Especially with so much discussion (and more, ehh, colorful communication) about immigration and immigrants these days. However, finding ways to incorporate Social Justice topics such as immigration can be challenging. It’s vital to ensure that what you decide to incorporate is age appropriate, simple enough for students to understand in the target language, and sensitive to a diversity of viewpoints. I am a strong believer that it is totally fine to use some time in class to clarify what you’re trying to achieve and why you’re presenting this material. (Just a note: I like writing a lot of my posts in the first person, using “I” statements, because at the end of the day, a lot of what I write here is based on my own experience, informed by my interactions with colleagues, students, mentors, and readers over the years.
It’s my responsibility as a Spanish teacher to step out of my comfort zone and find ways to bring Social Justice into my curriculum. I decided this time to focus on immigration, something that I think is timely even if it’s a charged topic (or because it’s such a charged topic, I can’t ignore it). With immigration as a current issue, and that unlikely to change for some time, I believe it is important for our students to understand why people come to this country, what their motivations are. Without getting into debates about policy or laws, I believe a core function of my job as a teacher, especially as a representative of a foreign culture, is to help guide students to build empathy and understand universal themes of the human condition. I also believe it’s reasonable to present a picture that reaches beyond public rhetoric and negative generalizations (sometimes with quite unfair and horrible labels) to discuss immigrants and their various contributions to this nation.
I’m lucky enough to have a school that fully supports me presenting this, and the structure of the school year has given me the chance to dive deeply into this topic. The school where I teach divides our professional growth by cycles. Each cycle has a component to focus on. The last term of the school year I was in the School Project phase. As part of this, I created a unit to discuss with our fifth graders about immigration. I didn’t create every single resource in the unit because I was able to find resources other colleagues had already shared on their blogs, and I was able to adapt some activities for the elementary level.
The picture below shows an excerpt of a project I shared as part of my professional growth:
A picture I found on the on Pixabay started the conversation with my fifth graders. We brainstormed what the picture could mean. Although I had planned this to happen in English, some students tried hard to use their Spanish, and I loved it! Cognados were a great help here!
Also to supported this unit, we watched and discussed the movie La misma luna. I adapted some of the activities from this resource from the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University (Tennessee, USA). I also created a few activities for my students to practice their language skills. One of the activities was to write a letter to Carlitos’ mom to let her know about Carlitos’ journey (Carlitos is the protagonist in La misma luna who, at just 9 years old, decides to cross the US-Mexico border to find his mom in California). My 5th graders really impressed me in their ability to analyze the movie, and some of them concluded that the movie made the border crossing journey seem much too easy. Of course, this is a Disney movie where everything is possible and some things are sensational or oversimplified! But I certainly wasn’t going to show them something as brutal as Desierto with Gael García Bernal … At the end of the unit, children wrote a reflection about this topic. Here is a sample:
Incorporating Social Justice into our curricula has to be intentional and well planned! In my case, because I live in the state with the longest border with Mexico (Texas), I think it is extremely important to make it part of my curriculum. But you don’t have to live in a border state to discuss immigration, a topic that affects everyone in this nation.
I have created a free resource that can be used to start the conversation. Please note that my intention is not to get political with my students, but to help them to see a reality from a chid’s point of view. There are of course many topics behind this issue that I feel are not appropriate to talk about with this age group. The idea is also not be judgmental because we have to understand that when a child comes to our classes, they come with their own stories, “baggage of life,” and ideas that at their young age is deeply influenced by those at home. I feel so fortunate that the school where I teach is a safe place to have these kind of discussions with my students. I am not trying to push a liberal agenda on my students. But it could be that at the end they will still have the same political beliefs. And I am certainly okay with that, as long as there is respect and their opinions are not harmful to our community.
Here is a short story I created. It is based on what’s currently happening with many children at the border. You may use this free resource to introduce the topic to your students. There are also some videos on YouTube that are useful to support this resource. Just be aware that there is a lot out there and you will need to take the time to explore and make sure the videos are suitable for the age group you teach (and make sure you always watch videos from start to finish before showing them to your students!). Click on the picture below to download the story:
If you are interested in learning more about Social Justice in world language classes, I highly recommend you read the publication by ACTFL called “Words and Actions.” And please make sure to stop by The Woke Spanish Teacher to see her post on Migration in Spanish class. I am excited about her new blog and ideas to incorporate Social Justice in elementary teaching. Thank you for stopping by to read our blogs!