El Día de los Muertos is celebrated in many countries around the world on November 1st and 2nd. This holiday is celebrated nationwide in Bolivia, mostly on November 2nd, and is known as “El Día de los Difuntos.” They celebrate the return of the souls of their ancestors. In preparation to receive them, people typically set up altars with pictures, candles, flowers, fruit, and a special bread called “Tantawawas” which in the Quechua language means babies made out of bread. They also have a bread called “Tantachachis” which means grandparents made out of bread. This tradition is also shared with Perú, Ecuador, Argentina, and a specific region of far south Colombia called “Nariño,” where this kind of bread is called “guaguas.” Bolivian Tantawawas have a specific characteristic in which the faces placed on the bread are made out of clay.
This video below explains how this beautiful holiday is celebrated in Bolivia. People go to the cemeteries to paint graves and decorate them. They also set their offering at home where it is important to have horses to help the souls arrive to the table. There are also stairs made out of bread to help the souls go back to the sky. The videos below have been helpful for me to educate myself about this holiday, as well as exploring Bolivia’s official website for tourism and culture. Please feel free to watch the videos to learn more.
Get inspired and create your own Tantawawas in class. I know time is limited, so I recommend you use modeling clay with your students, acknowledging that we need to be respectful of this tradition and share with your students why a different material is being used in class.
I was able to find white and brown clay. I mixed them up to produce a shade closer to the real bread. I drew the face of the Tantawawa on a piece of white paper and cut it out to place it on the Tantawawa shape. Here are the results:
At this point in the year, some of you are already back to school or getting ready for it! I still have a few days left until I see my students. I have some new things I would love to try this year. At a conference I attended this summer, a teacher shared with me that at the beginning of the school year she sends home a survey for her students to fill out along with their parents. I know homeroom teachers do it, and I recall getting a few of these when my own children were in preschool. How in the world is it that it never occurred to me that I could do this with my students? That’s why I love the teaching community, so much sharing and helping each other!
After doing some research, I adapted one that I will share with my students. I plan to use it in class in something like “el estudiante misterioso”which basically will be like sharing with the class special facts about this person, taking a few guesses, and then revealing the name of the mystery student. After revealing the name, I will again ask the class to give some facts about this person. For example, 1. ¿Cuántos hermanos tiene Anna? 2. ¿Quién tiene hermanos en la clase? 3. ¿Cuántos hermanos tienes? This way other student can relate with the mystery student.
I’m not sure where I will take it from there. Maybe the mystery student will have a special place to sit in class or will have a special job. Please share your ideas in the comments. I will be so excited to hear them all and update this post with them!
Download your pages for “El estudiante misterioso” HERE!
I partnered with Mundo de Pepita to share resources and activities for the new school. It was a week filled with a lot of excitement and free resources for you all! Make sure to click on every picture and read all the different activities.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the 20th year teaching, the feeling of the butterflies in the stomach always comes back on the first day of school, and I had mine this week!
Every year I have new students so I put together a book or a powerpoint. This year I decided to go with a Prezi presentation – I used the free version. I included pictures of my family and Colombia and shared them with my students. I used this with my second and third grade classes. At the end of my presentation we played a game called “Falso o Cierto,” and it was basically questions about my presentation. I asked questions such as ¿Es tu maestra de español de Costa Rica?, ¿En la familia de tu maestra de español hay 5 personas? and the children had to answer if it was false or true. They seemed to enjoy playing this game. Many of them participated, and the new ones got to learn something about me.
After the game we played “pasa la bola,” and students had to answer, using full sentences, when asked ¿Cómo estas? and also ¿Cómo te llamas?
They needed a little bit of movement, we reviewed colors and the shared about their favorite color before playing the “color, colorcito ” game.
(image taken from the Boston Children’s museum website)
It was time to settle down and talk about the rules in class. Toward the end of last school year, I started using “Whole Brain Teaching“in my class. I had great results, so I decided to implement it from the outset of this school year.
We went over the first 5 classroom rules and practiced them a lot!
At the end of class, I used an oral “exit ticket” about the rules and then they went to line up to go back to their classrooms.
It was a simple lesson, but it seemed to be a good fit to start the new school year. If you were wondering if this all happened in Spanish, yes, it did! Modeling a lot, using TPR, and tons of visuals help! It was a 45 minute period too!
I like approaching the first days of school in a very low key manner. We are all getting ready and adjusting to the new routine, and as some suggest, it may take up to 6 weeks for children to finally feel ready for your class. This is especially true as I am an specialist, and I see my students two times during the week. I am not a lucky homeroom teacher who gets to see them everyday! I like to use my first classes to show my students how my class works and what I expect from them, but before I dive into rules and procedures, I introduce myself. This is how I do it:
Every year I make a book where I share with my students a bit about myself, my family, my country of origin, and something fun I did during the summer. I create a short story book and use pictures to illustrate it. I call this book “Todo Sobre Mí.”
Students really want to know who their teachers are, and they really appreciate the information you can give them, even telling them my first name, but letting them know that I prefer to be called “Señora Gómez” (however, note that this is not true anymore; this year I am going to make the shift to allowing them to use my first name, just like my students always did in Colombia.)
This is how my book looks!
Would you like to make your own? Grab materials to create yours HERE!
After sharing information about myself, I let them know what I expect from each of them in my class. I do this in the target language most of the time, but still speak about 10% of the time in their native language, suggested by ACTFL to make sure everyone is with me. I use a lot of visuals to let them know what I expect from them in my class and keep my rules simple as much as I can. In fact, I use five simple rules:
1. Respeto 2. Atención 3. Silencio 4. Espera tu turno/Levanta tu mano 5. Sonríe
And of course, I don’t want to end my first class without knowing students’ names and introducing or reviewing “Yo me llamo…”
I am really happy to welcome all the new teachers! Thank you for spreading the love of learning a new language in your school community and to your students!
Planning is one of the most important aspects to ensuring a successful class over the course of a school year. Of course, getting to know your school community and the needs of your students are intimately tied to this part of the teaching process. You also need to be clear regarding what kind of language program your school wants to develop or has in place so that you tailor it to the demand and expectations appropriately. In many cases, we language teachers are in charge of planning our class 100% while building a curriculum from scratch, especially since textbooks at the elementary level have limited applicability for a natural approach to language teaching and learning.
In over fifteen years of teaching languages to children, I have found that planning a week in advance for the following week works perfectly and gives me time to assess the material, reflect on the way I am teaching, and to adapt for my students as needed. Although there are fancy higher tech ways to do this, I’m old school when it comes to planning, choosing to keep it simple. I plan for every day on a single sheet of paper, and by the end of the school year, I have about two big binders with all my lesson plans collected in one place. I re-use these lesson plans the following year, but I create a new binder with changes as I adapt activities year by year.
How to write a lesson plan for a 20-30 minute lesson
Prepare a routine: Make sure you develop a clear routine for your class. A routine doesn’t equate to boredom and doesn’t mean that the activities are always presented in the same way. Creating a routine means creating a space for learners to feel safe about their knowledge and to be ready to switch gears. Prepare two to three elements that are always in your routine, but make sure they can be presented with plenty of variation.
This objective is one objective or piece of an objective drawn from the objectives planned for the entire unit. Remember that a spiral curriculum plan will allow you to come back to your other objectives later. This singular focus helps ensure that your entire lesson is well-targeted and clear. It’s the foundation for all that you do with your students.
Includes your routine (calendar, weather, birthdays, etc). Singing or playing a game related to the routine or theme of study helps students warm up for your lesson and creates a positive environment.
The activity is the core of your lesson. In this stage of the planning, students will get engage with your theme for the unit. Different strategies are stated here to allow students to accomplish the lesson’s objective. It is important to determine the steps of the activities and to be clear about them to create a confident learning environment. An unclear set of activities will create confusion between students.
This allows you and students to know clearly when a class is over and feel a sense of accomplishment. This ending can be done through a simple game or by reviewing some elements that were explored in the lesson.
In a FLES class, the assessment is mainly done during the progress of the lesson. Try to focus on a few students per lesson, and observe them closely during the development of the lesson.
List all kinds of resources you will need to teach your lesson effectively. This will also help you to prepare in advance and avoid trips to your office during class.