Dr. Baros is a dedicated researcher, educator, and LGBTQ advocate. Her areas of expertise are proficiency-based language teaching and creating inclusive environments for LGBTQ students and people.
Last year, I made an attempt to follow the curriculum in the newest Look, I can talk! books (Blaine Ray). However, for various reasons, it just wasn't cutting it for me. However, one thing that students were picking up really well were the songs. Along with the LICT curriculum, I did activities with LEGO stop-motion videos based on the original LICT stories and of course Señor Wolly (their favorite). In fact one particular struggling student's mom purchased a school Señor Wooly account so that her son and the rest of my students could access the videos! Students were able to remember and use the phrases because they got the songs stuck in their head and enjoyed singing them as well as associated the words with the videos that accompanied the songs. After getting some feedback from students, I decided mid-year to re-do my curriculum and have the songs at the heart of the curriculum. In other words, my structures were pulled from the songs and listening to the songs became a central part of instruction. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, I wasn't able to plan this curriculum shift out methodically and it showed, but it also showed how much the students were learning. However, the 2014-2015 school year will have a music-based curriculum that I feel will be much stronger and I can't wait to see the results. Here's how I went about structuring it:
First, I used Bryce Hedstrom's list of the 400 most common words to identify the words that I wanted my students to know. Then, I looked at various songs from both of the previous resources as well as songs commonly used by other Spanish teachers, including authentic songs (for example, "Eres Tú" is an excellent first-year song!). I identified prominent phrases within the songs (usually they were repeated multiple times, giving me lots of repetition and increasing the likelihood that students would know them) and cross-checked that they included high-frequency vocabulary and/or important grammatical concepts that I wanted my students to be exposed to and acquire (in the lower levels, phrases with high-frequency vocabulary were emphasized while grammar gained increasing importance with the higher levels since they already know many of the high-frequency words and have acquired more fluency). I also ensured that the phrases were in a complete sentence (or were put into a complete sentence with minor adjustments) and that I could come up with a discussion topic with which I could PQA, circle, discuss, and/or tell a story with.
In Intro to Spanish and Spanish 1 classes (which are very similar) have a very well laid-out curriculum, especially since I've taught these levels before and know where to start/end up, what my resources are, and the general strengths and pitfalls of particular phrases and songs. Ultimately, I decided to leave my Spanish 2/3 classes (I have both levels in the same class) a little more flexible and identified a loose order of songs to do with them and will select specific phrases as we go (these students are generally more proficient than a regular Spanish 2 class since they've had Spanish all through elementary school, Intro to Spanish, Spanish 1, and for some Spanish 2, as well as being at a high-performing school and they take Spanish as their elective over other options; thus, the majority of what I'm doing is practice, practice, practice and just help them become more fluent since they are already conversational and this is the first time I'm teaching these levels). The phrases are what students will be tested on, but as all Comprehensible Teachers know, they will know so much more than just those phrases.
In addition to centralizing my curriculum on these phrases, I'm doing "Verb Karate" with my Spanish 2-3 students, doing someting called "Algo Más" each Friday, and putting an emphasis on reading.
PS - I'll update soon with the actual songs and structures I chose.
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