I am so excited to teach Spanish I this year! One reason is because one of my main goals (that Laura reminded me of!) was to let all of the students know that they are capable of learning another language and progressing in that language. Then the rubber hit the road planning this summer, and I realized that I had to come up with a first unit from scratch… as I am not using a textbook and students are only going to really have the language that I teach them to use on any assessment! And I had to assess them AND come up with an IPA so soon. Luckily, I had some ideas and tweeted out for some more! First, I decided on a few things that I didn’t want:
- I don’t want to start immediately on the textbook basics: date, time, weather, school, descriptions, greetings, alphabet etc. It isn’t super engaging and there is only so much that you can do with this language on an IPA.
- I want to figure out how to intertwine most of these ideas throughout the class as we are progressing throughout the year. I really don’t ever want a full school unit. So many classes are cognates, and we can discuss the items that we use in class easily without devoting a whole unit to it.
- Many textbooks make the mistake of isolating some topics and wanting to teach all of the ideas of a topic. I don’t need a whole unit of descriptions with most of the words when I can intersperse them throughout a variety of units. Same thing goes with other topics like the weather. We are lucky in Maryland to have four seasons. Therefore, I can wait to introduce the word snow until right before a snow day. It is much more engaging that way.
I decided that I did want to make sure that I covered the basic topics though. I have heard of many teachers including a review of the calendar, weather and time at the beginning of each class. Our classes rotate, so the time review is relevant. (Otherwise, you would just say the same time- every single day!) I also want to incorporate one country per unit into this time. That way, we can discuss a variety of times and weathers. I want to start with Argentina. As I wrote in my authentic resource blog post, it can be easy to take a screenshot of the weather that day to use in each class. I will do this after our introduction activity.
Then I thought about what different units that I wanted to teach throughout the year. I came to the conclusion that it made sense to me to talk about likes along with activities and sports from the beginning. I came up with a list of what I wanted them to be able to do by the end of the unit:
- Interpretive Reading: Students will read a Yahoo! Respuestas (like this) that will be edited about what sports or activities that a variety of people like. Students will have to identify sports and who likes them in addition to a variety of cognates. I plan to edit them not only because many of the answers end up with errors but also to minimize the text that my beginning students have to read. (Also someone on Twitter recommended Yahoo! Respuestas to me, but I can’t find the original tweet!) I may also add another reading assessment a little later of a TV schedule of ESPN like this to discuss the date and times of different sporting events. I believe that reading can be assessed much earlier than some of the other skills.
- Interpersonal Speaking: As much as I love group interviews, I will have to ask all of the questions in the first interpersonal interview because my students would have trouble carrying the conversation. I plan on asking my students some of the questions that we were reviewing throughout the chapter including how to introduce themselves and which sports/activities they like and do not like. Also, I will ask them when to continue to work on dates/times. Wendy helped me learn that I can assess their answers on a smaller scale initially. I will just give them a score for each question/answer on a scale from 1-4 based on if they were able to answer the question and if they pushed themselves to give a more complex answer.
- Presentational Writing: Since they are still trying to figure out how to write more, I will provide them with heavy prompts about what they like that they will have to answer in Spanish. I will leave it open for students to express much of what they have learned in the first few weeks. It also will imitate a free write where the students can explain what they said about themselves and other students during the first few days.
After I had decided the end goals, I was able to write down some can do statements for my students. It was a little tricky because at first, I came up with a LOT that students could say about this topic. I wanted to use the simple future to talk about who will win or lose and teach querer and preferir. I pared it down to make it easier and more doable for all of us. I am using these can do statements:
- I can introduce myself.
- I can say activities/sports that I like.
- I can say activities/sports that I do not like.
- I can tell when an activity takes place.
- I can identify cognates.
I believe that whatever unit you do, you should include cognates in your first unit. They will be extremely helpful as students navigate their first authentic resource or reading that I write. In addition to these can do statement, I also really like how many teachers include some reach objectives for some students. The three that I have decided upon are:
- I can say which activities I prefer.
- I can say what I love to do.
- I can say if a team will win or lose.
Once I have decided upon these skills and the can do statements, I start fleshing out some activities which I will share in the upcoming week. I hope that this post helps you understand how I plot out my units and get started without the guide of a textbook. Have you done something similar? What is your first unit for the beginning of the year?