Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tuesday Tips: You don't have to teach EVERYTHING in one theme! Spiral your curriculum

WE'VE ALL BEEN THERE- we know there is so much to learn in a foreign language- words, phrases, grammar, expressions, idioms... the list goes on and on. And with the limited, precious time we have, we try to cram as much in as possible into every theme or unit we teach. However, if we take the long term view, thinking of our curriculum over months or years, instead of unit by unit, we can take heart that all the things we need and want to teach will have their moment.


SPIRAL YOUR CURRICULUM.... imagine a spiral or helix where content is introduced, practiced, then sometime in the future the curriculum comes around again and hits that same content, building on it, placing it in new contexts, reinforcing previous learning while at the same time introducing new content. And so it goes throughout the program; the spiral keeps coming around again to key content. When I first started building my curriculum, I made a chart with each grade level at the top and key themes/content along the side and began thinking about where in each grade level I could tap into these themes along the continuum.

SO FOR EXAMPLE, FAMILY VOCABULARY: in Kindergarten my kiddos learn a basic set of nuclear family vocabulary: mamá, papá, hermano, hermana, abuelo, abuela, perro, gato, and casa. My objective for them is to be able to comprehend the vocabulary and identify verbally at least 4-5 of the words, that's it. Talk about simple objectives! Later in the year we do a theme around the zoo and what words get reinforced? mamá and papá and bebé is added as I show them pictures of animal families in the course of the theme... ah, devious! Even later in the year, we reinforce 'hermano' and 'hermana' during our Picnic theme when we read 'Julieta y Mateo hacen un picnic'... our two little mousy friends are brother and sister.


WELL, THEN IN FIRST GRADE, here comes the family vocabulary again! Nuclear family vocabulary is reinforced and we add the construction 'Es mi ____'. Kids make a mini album labeling their family members using this construction- again, really simple! SECOND GRADE sees the addition of 'Yo tengo ____' with family vocabulary (Yo tengo dos perros, yo tengo una hermana) as well as tapping into the entire set of words around Thanksgiving when we do a big bulletin board entitled 'Doy gracias por ____'. In THIRD GRADE we do a big theme around pets where kids use 'Yo tengo ___' and 'Mi ___ es ____' in a new context to describe their pets. And so it goes, as each year and throughout the year this vocabulary is expanded upon as we reinforce and practice this core vocabulary set. By the time my students leave me at the end of Fourth Grade, they have used and practiced this set in a variety of contexts.... and I didn't have to do it all at once! That's the beauty of a spiraled curriculum- by coming back to previous content, you allow yourself to spread the learning over time rather than try to do it all in one go.

SO, NEXT TIME YOU FEEL YOU CAN'T FIT IT ALL IN, cut yourself a break and remember- you don't have to do EVERYTHING in one theme! And don't forget to join us on Facebook every Tuesday morning for our Tuesday Tips!

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