Wednesday, October 12, 2016

La Castañada- a Fall Celebration for Elementary Spanish Class

AUTUMN HAS ARRIVED and though in Spanish class we often look to Days of the Dead to fill our plan books, another celebration takes place at the same time- la Castañada! This holiday, celebrated in Spain and Portugal, rings in the fall harvest of nuts and fruits, centering around las castañas (chestnuts), and takes place on November 1, All Saint's Day. Images associated with this holiday include a woman in peasant dress selling chestnuts on the street, nuts, fall leaves, hedgehogs, squirrels, birds and the forest. In doing a search on Pinterest, I came across a slew of activities for elementary age students- this holiday seems a great one for craftivities in schools in Spain. Couple this with autumnal vocabulary and you've got a great theme for October/ November that features culture- a win win!

HERE IS A ROUND UP OF SOME IDEAS I find particularly fun and engaging for our elementary Spanish classrooms (and that I would like to do in my classroom!):

*FIRSTLY, A BIT MORE INFO ABOUT LA CASTAÑADA: this site gives background information and history, as well as an interesting perspective about which to celebrate, Halloween or Castañada.

*THIS SWEET AND SIMPLE SONG is perfect to learn along with fall vocabulary and la Castañada. I found it at AliciaInfantil (click here for more of her printables)

*MAKE THESE CUTE CHESTNUT FACES- a great way to practice and reinforce emotions- kids can make a talking bubble to go along with the chestnut to include emotions vocabulary. I tried to source this picture but was unable to; it is not mine.

*SHARE THIS ADORABLE MINIBOOK with your students, highlighting la Castañada and fall.

*MAKE PANELLETS, traditional treats for All Saint's Day, Castañada, and the fall. Here is an incredibly well photographed recipe, step by step.

*A SIMPLE POEM ABOUT LA CASTAÑERA (the peasant lady who sells castañas on the street):
"Cuando es el tiempo de las castañas,
la castañera, la castañera,
baja y vende castañas,
en la cuidad,
la camisa le va pequeña,
la faldita le hace campana,
los zapatos le hacen clon-clon.."


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Managing Multiple Grade Levels with Rotating Themes

A BIG CHALLENGE FOR ELEMENTARY LANGUAGE TEACHERS is teaching multiple grade levels- many of you out there teach upwards of 5 or 6 grade levels- even 9 if you are a K-8 teacher! Along with that type of span typically comes a large number of students, so prep and planning can be a bear, especially with the limited prep time often provided. One way to tackle this (and save your sanity!) is to create a yearly rotation of themes, teaching one theme to multiple grade levels in a given year, then another the following year, and so on. With embedded differentiation to take into account age appropriate activities, this allows you to plan ONE theme across many levels (obviously you will have a variety of themes across that one year, but this is a way to attack having different themes for all grade levels all through the year).


ONE WAY TO GO ABOUT DOING THIS is to look at the ACTFL standards and choose one that lends itself particularly well to differentiation while still keeping to the same basic theme. Here's an example of how that can be done highlighting a set of activity packs we have available, tapping into ACTFL'S cultural competence standards:

Under 'CULTURES' ACTFL has the following standard:
-Relating cultural practices to perspectives: Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied

Under 'CONNECTIONS' is the following standard:
-Acquiring information and diverse perspectives: Learners access and evaluate information and diverse perspectives that are available through the language and its cultures.

THESE TWO STANDARDS could be achieved in a variety of ways- a popular way to do this is to focus on a particular country, highlighting various aspects of culture from that country focus. With young kiddos, who have little knowledge of other countries in general, it is also a great way to widen their horizons and instill curiosity and interest. To achieve the standards, you could have a different country focus at each grade level; for example, for Kindergarten, México, for 1st grade, Spain, for 2nd grade, Perú. (or even regions). The alternative could be to set up a rotation over the course of a few years, like this:

YEAR 1- México- all three grade levels (or a span of your choice) study México
YEAR 2- Perú- all three grade levels (or a span of your choice) study Perú
YEAR 3- Venezuela- all three grade levels (or a span of your choice) study Venezuela

In YEAR 4, you start over again with México, and so on for another three year rotation. You could also have more years in the rotation, adding countries to the list. Or have a different set of countries for upper grade levels, with it's own rotation. The key here is you are prepping ONE THEME for multiple grade levels, rather than several themes, which eases your workload.

WE HAVE A SERIES (EVER GROWING!) OF COUNTRY FOCUSED ACTIVITY PACKS which are just perfect for this idea of rotating over the course of a few years. Each activity pack highlights simple cultural aspects of the country, including the flag, foods, animals, a special landmark or feature, and geography, using basic language to convey the information in Spanish, making them ideal for little learners. Each can also be supplemented with additional activities for upper elementary and/or middle school, such as videos, projects, songs, etc. Each also meets the above ACTFL standards through the window provided via the activities in the pack. Here are the four we currently have (keep checking back as new ones are in the pipeline!):
Pepita va a México Activity Pack
Pepita va a Perú Activity Pack
'Pepita va a Venezuela' Activity Pack
Puerto Rico Culture Activity Pack for Elementary Spanish Class
'Pepita va a Puerto Rico' Activity Pack