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.
- Verb Karate is similar to the activities on Conjuguemos.com and will help them start solidifying their knowledge of grammar. I'm going to directly teach a verb form once and then review it for a week or two before teaching the next form. Students simply need to demonstrate that they can conjugate the verb endings (which will be available to them during the test) correctly by completing a conjugation quiz pulled straight from Conjuguemos every other week. I expect them to earn 5 "belts" per semester, though there will be a surprise for students who earn all 15 "belts". I'll write more about Verb Karate at a later date.
- "Algo Más" is simply that - "Something more". These are a variety of topics that I don't cover nor test in my regular curriculum (though they might be a "bonus" question). Some of these are vocabulary-based (head, shoulders, knees, and toes), some are culture-based (the countries and capitals of Spanish-Speaking countries), and some are just an additional fun way to get CI (learning a song that didn't fit into the curriculum but that students enjoy).
- With reading, students will be doing free-choice reading Monday-Thursday (further reinforcing their command of high-frequency vocabulary) and whole-class reading with me on Thursdays. The whole-class reading for lower levels will come from Blaine Ray's New LICT books since they provide short stories and activities that go with them based on high-frequency vocabulary. The higher levels will read more authentic resources from Spanish and Latin American literature as well as current events. I worked out a 5-step process for students to complete these readings in groups (context, pre-reading questions, brief summary, embedded reading, and post-reading questions), especially since I'll be teaching both my Spanish 2 and Spanish 3 classes separately at the same time (thank goodness they're my more responsible and advanced kids!). Again, I'll write more about these activities in a future post.