This week in 7th grade Spanish we have been learning how to express dates and to describe important holidays in the Spanish-speaking world. Students were given a list of important holidays in different countries and researched not only when the holiday takes place, but also the significance of the holiday and how it is celebrated.
Students learned for example that Cinco de Mayo is not, as some might think, Mexican Independence Day, but a commemoration of the Battle of Puebla. Because of this, it is not a widely celebrated holiday in the Spanish-speaking world.
We shared with each other surprises about what we learned. Some were amazed at how many Spanish-speaking countries share the same Independence Day. Others were interested to find that many of the holidays had religious affiliations. We were able to discuss why this might be.
This activity will pave the way for our year together in Spanish class. We will learn about the language, but also investigate the cultures and histories of people who speak the language.
This week we have been unpacking the differences between ser and estar. This is a difficult endeavor because both of these words means “to be.” Although they cannot be used interchangeably, students have been learning the specific way to use each of them. The basic rule we have been working with is:
Use estar for talking about the condition or state of something. For example:
¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
Use ser to talk about something’s essential qualities.
¿Cómo eres? (What are you like?)
We recently practiced this by assuming the identities of famous Spanish-speaking writers, artists, and activists. Starting by choosing a Spanish-speaking country from a box, students looked for famous people from that country who they wanted to pretend to be. Then, students looked up information on the person: their birthdate, place of origin, and other important facts about them.
Using this information and new identity, students interviewed each other to learn more about the other famous folks in the room. Some of the people chosen were:
Teresa de la Parra
After interviewing all of the famous people in the room, students designed diagrams to illustrate what they learned about each person they interviewed.
Buen trabajo to all of our Spanish learners and gracias for all of their hard work!
Have you ever wanted to just get away? That’s been how many are feeling here recently, so we have been participating in a little escapism and role play to study some famous Spanish-speaking people.
Gabriel García Márquez
This week in Spanish, seventh graders have been assuming the identities of famous Spanish- speakers from all over the world and done investigations into some film directors, fashion designers, novelists, and artists who speak Spanish. A few names of people who we investigated were Gabriel García Márquez, Rita Moreno, Carolina Herrera, and Guillermo del Toro. After randomly drawing a character from an envelope, students looked into their famous person’s past, importance, job, and home country. Then, they moved on to interview everyone else in the class who also took on the roles of famous Spanish-speakers so everyone could learn more about each famous person. At the end of that, students chose which famous people were of greatest interest to them and created profiles for three different people that were featured on our list of famous people.
Guillermo del Toro
In these profiles, students not only talked about and described each individual, but they also had to write a brief description about why each person was important, not only to his or her Spanish-speaking community, but also to the individual students. After this research was over, students shared what they found out with each other in small groups.
This activity has helped students build some important language skills like asking questions, using the verb ser (to be), and learning vocabulary related to jobs and professions. As students interviewed each other pretending to be famous Spanish-speakers, they communicated only in Spanish; once again filling our classroom with the music of their voices in Spanish. Great work to all of them!
In the next few weeks, seventh graders will be presenting their own news shows from Spanish speaking countries. Although the newscasts will be fictional, the information that they will be presenting will be true and found from sources that they have been researching.
Each seventh grader was given a Spanish speaking country and as well as a list of possible segments to research and report on.
Over the last class days we have had time to work on our research and put together our broadcasts. On Wednesday, our newscasters took turns peer editing each others’ scripts. They drew from the Spanish they have learned over the course of the entire year to help their partners fine-tune their work. I look forward to seeing their final products!
Over the last two weeks, our fabulous 7th graders have prepared lessons about some of the topics we’ve been studying and have presented them to their classmates. The topics we learned about were:
The difference between “hay” and “estar”
Accent marks and stress
Our profesoras came up with creative lesson plans and engaging activities to accompany them. We learned some fun facts about the countries we’ve been studying, along with some fun facts about each one. By playing many games of Jeopardy we practiced our verb conjugations and worked on the difference between “hay” and “estar”. We had some competitions for conjugating verbs, asking questions, and expressing the weather.
The girls did a great job teaching, their classmates challenged them by asking clarifying questions, and everyone was active and engaged in all of our lessons. They learned a lot and, as always, had a blast while doing it. Gracias to all of them for working hard and digging deeper into the subjects they taught.