It seems to be widely recognized that little kids like structure. Surprisingly our kids -- high schoolers -- do as well, so one would assume that so does everyone in between. One of our favorite ways to give that to our students is to do so while exposing them to culture, language and knowledge that just can’t come from a lecture or text.
It comes from experiences.
Our weekly structure turns the classroom into a tiny field trip every day. First, we’ll share HOW we structure it, then give you some examples so you see what that translates to in culture, language and learning.
Each day has its purpose and gives the kids something to look forward to, plus gives context to the days of the week, so they don’t have to recite their mental memorized list of days in order to remember “hoy es jueves”.
Leer lunes gives our kids the opportunity to read about current events, comic strips, or interesting articles that may or may not be related to the theme. We find that they usually groan when we start class by announcing that “HOY ES… ¡¡LEER LUNES!!” However when they see the great things that we provide, like horoscopes and funny websites, they don’t mind doing an interpretive task. The key is, when we ask them to read, to give them relevant or relatable materials. Some other things to try? Read aloud, a game for comprehension and jigsaws.
Merienda martes, my personal favorite. We all know that food and culture are heavily interconnected. Not just as products of the culture, but many other aspects, like history, economy, and cultural perspective. It's just a bonus that this is their chance to taste foods that they may never have tried. Papaya con chile y limón, la sopa paraguaya, garrapiñada, atole, we discuss ingredients, read recipes, watch cooking videos and describe food outside of a dedicated unit. We never have to “teach” words like servilletas or tenedores...those come through in context -- and weekly -- by listing what they do and don’t need, and giving students "jobs" to collect those items (quick formative assessment) at the beginning of class. In other words, the promise of a tiny snack is enough to trick them into learning. Plus, they really get out of their comfort zone when they taste things like nopales, sardinas, or the one really spicy pimiento padrón. Plus, keep in mind that your kids could read the recipe on Monday, and then taste the food on Tuesday. I would be willing to bet that they would be much more engaged in your warm-up if it had to do with food!
Música miércoles is another interpretive task, but when you put it to music, kids are engaged. Some songs will reinforce your theme, some are popular and serve for a great cultural comparison. Some have videos that give us a view of life in the target culture, and all are opportunities for language, vocabulary and grammar in context, offering the opportunity to practice pre-reading skills, interpretation, analisis and comprehension. The aftereffect of our kids creating their own playlists, following artists on social media, and watching their videos over and over on YouTube is just a bonus!
Jugar jueves can be culturally authentic games, but is also a great chance to reinforce grammar or vocabulary. With any of those goals, students learn phrases and sentence frames to enhance their communication, such as me toca // te toca, no seas tramposo, Tin Marín and more.
Ah viernes...que te quiero, viernes. Pues, ver viernes. We love to introduce our students to shows that are created for their age group in the target culture, but there are also so many great movies or even movie trailers that a teacher could use each week. Our favorite is El Internado, however we have thoroughly enjoyed Velvet, Rebelde, La Casa de Papel, Go! Vive a tu manera and La Niña on Netflix . However, we operate on a 90 minute block, so don’t be afraid to lump Fridays in with your meriendas and enjoy the Taco Chronicles in shorter period schools! Read more about why we love it here. *NOTE* We have permission slips signed at the beginning of the year for the shows. We also skip the questionable parts...if you know what I mean.
So, there you have it. Our structure for each day that entices our students to be in school everyday. In fact, I’m kind of jealous that I never had that in school!
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