The Blog

Oso de Mantequilla: A tribute

wedding parentsI grew up in a fundamental Christian church in the South, where everyone referred to the men as “Brother” and their first or last name.  My best friend as a toddler could not pronounce my father’s last name – “Brother Blair” – and it came out “Butter Bear.”  And so my mother’s favorite nickname was born.

Later, when my dad decided to pick up Spanish after 20 years of not studying it (he could do that sort of thing), my mom asked a friend how to say “Butter Bear” in Spanish, and so her favorite nickname for him morphed again, into “Oso de mantequilla.”

One thing about having your own blog is that you can write whatever you want, and today, I write a tribute to my dad, who died unexpectedly at the age of 68 on July 16, 2014.  A tribute to Oso de Mantequilla, which I also delivered as the eulogy at his funeral last Sunday.

When I tell you that I grew up in a fundamentalist church in the deep South, I can feel the stereotypes rising and I plead with you to let my father smash them all.

Yes, my dad lived and worked in east central Georgia for 30 years.  Yes, he retired as a Texas rancher.  But not only was my dad a highly valued specialist at a nuclear plant, he also knew how to pronounce the word nuclear. He adopted a love for collard greens but still used the word “pop” to refer to soda.  He spoke two languages, sometimes three, and could assemble and disassemble a computer or a radio or a chicken coop.  He taught me what a fulcrum was, he taught me CPR, and he taught me how to sweep a sidewalk without being a perfectionist.  He took me to the space station and took me to the jungle in Ecuador.  He taught me Spanish and how to use it to help people who were lonely and lost.  He taught me how to plan my Spanish curriculum and sent me games for my students to play.  I called him my assistant teacher from a thousand miles away.  He was one of the best friends I ever had.  I know intellectually it sounds weird for a 30-something woman to hold hands with a  60-something man -even to me this sounds like it would look odd at Walmart- but that was me and my dad, it was us, and it wasn’t weird.  He was my friend.

My dad with my son, March 2014

My dad with my son, March 2014

I wish I had more space to help you know him more.  I wish I could tell you why he called me “girl with legs” and where the word frubbies came from and what it means.  I wish I could tell you the story about the “really big shoe,” how he taught me not to flip a canoe by flipping us both into an alligator-infested lake, how much he hated New York, how “abracadabra” fit into our breakfast routine, why he had a scar on his upper lip, or how he made me change my own flat tire. How he always said “Let’s say prayer” instead of “let’s pray” and every mealtime prayer started with “Father, thank you for our home and our family.”  Our home and our family.

He was my family and he was my friend.  But of all the places he took me and all the things he taught me, what’s most important is that he took me to church, and he taught me who Jesus was.

When my dad and my brother were living near Chicago, a church sent a bus by to see if they could take my brother to Sunday School.  My dad let them but decided that he needed to know what they were going to be teaching him so he went to church.  God did not use that bus ministry to change my brother’s heart, but He did use it to change my dad’s.  My dad was a man of logic and faith working together in perfect harmony and it just made perfect sense to him – that the human heart with its intricate valves and movement, the cells and molecules that work together to pump for five years or a hundred years or sixty-eight years, four months, and thirteen days, that

with my daughter, March 2014

with my daughter, March 2014

 Someone had to have designed it, and that other transcendental idea we call the human heart, that thing that in us wants to do right but just so we’ll be recognized for it or wants to do wrong and cheat, lie, steal, kidnap, kill, and lash out at people we say we love, that human heart could only be fixed by the One who made it.  That’s what my dad knew, that’s what made sense, and then there was faith.  He had faith that the One who would fix it all, who would bring us the very good ending to all this mess, was Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God who lived a perfect life and died a perfect death to pay the terrible price for the sins of all those who would ever have faith in him, and then rose again.  Rose again to live.

Several months ago I had a dream about my dad and it moved me so much I knew I had to tell him about it.  But when I just tried to tell my husband about it, I cried so much I knew I couldn’t tell my dad on the phone, so I wrote him a letter.  I knew he’d have kept it so I went looking for it and sure enough, I found it on his desk.  Let me print it for you here.

Dear Dad,

I had the most amazing dream last night and I wanted to tell you about it, but when I tried to tell Joshua I cried so much I knew I couldn’t tell you on the phone so I’d have to write it.

I dreamed you and I and Mom and many other people I knew and didn’t know were in a place that was like a nursing home but was a meeting of the worlds: there were young people alive and old people alive and also old people who had died and I was the only one who could see and interact with them all.  At first you were there and worked there.  Then one day you packed up your office and became one of the ghost people.  I had the sense that I needed to figure out what to do with all the books and knick-knacks in the place but I didn’t process the event as a ddeath and I could still interact with you, but only visually.  You were like a ghost, so I couldn’t touch you.  I don’t remember feeling sad because I could see and talk to you.  But one day I saw you in the hallway and I knew you weren’t like the ghost people anymore – you were real again.  I was overwhelmed with happiness and ran down the hallway to hug you.  I wrapped my arms around you and was completely overjoyed to actually touch you agin, but what really struck me was your smell.  I was breathing in and it smelled like my dad and to breathe in that smell again, I was so happy I thought I could float away.  I woke up with a sense of joy and peace in my heart.

So I have to tell you – you can’t ever leave me because I have to know where to find you and your smell.

I love you so much -


I believe God sent me that dream early to remind me to cherish the moments with my dad because He knew there weren’t too many left.  He knew my dad was leaving.  I told my dad not to leave me, but he did.

with my daughter, Christmas  2012

with my daughter, Christmas 2012

It’s a complicated story, but we were driving to Rhode Island when my dad’s condition got very critical and I needed to get on a plane in Cincinnati.  We booked the flight and had a couple of hours so we found a park nearby and had a picnic together, my husband, my kids, and me.  My one-year-old son Judah was climbing on a bench and found this paper.  My husband said, look what Judah found, and gave it to me.  It said “Expect a miracle.”  The paper made me smile and gave me hope.

But where’s the miracle?  The park bench told me to expect a miracle, and then my dad died.  We didn’t get a miracle.

Or did we?

My husband told me he thought my dream was about the resurrection, that God was reassuring me that even when my dad did leave, that one day I’d see him again, that he lives, and maybe even God will use the same laundry detergent so my dad will keep his smell.

My dad lives, and I will see him again.  I don’t tell you this because it makes me feel better.  I don’t tell you because I want to believe it so badly.  I tell you because this is what my dad would tell you if he could talk to you now.  He’d tell you that some of you have a spiritual heart every bit as dead as his physical one is now, and he’d tell me that you can’t be argued out of it.  God has to open the eyes of your heart.  Even right now you’re sitting there thinking, this is what you believe and I’m glad it makes you feel better.  See, God knew you would think that.  He knew you’d think, so you say you’re God, so you say Jesus was your Son, so you say He died to bring the hope of a very good ending to this very bad middle, so you say you get to tell me how to live, so what? Anyone can say that.

And to that, God said, oh yeah? Watch this. I can say that.  And I can make My dead Son live.

I make the dead live.

John 11 tells us that Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Expect a miracle.  This is the miracle.  People throw around the word “miracle” as if it were a sandwich topping but a miracle is actually something that defies all explanation, and I mean any other explanation except God did it.  A doctor can take the valve of a pig’s heart and put it in the human heart and put off death for a few more years, and that’s amazing, but it’s not a miracle.

But make the dead live?  Only God can do that.  Here’s what my dad would say if he could talk to you now:

You want to see a miracle? I died.  And yet I live.


Write to your dad.

Take care of your heart.

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July 24, 2014 7 Comments

It’s coming!

cajas cover

I haven’t been blogging much lately and am dropping off the radar for about a month and I feel the need to explain why.

If you’ve ever used the “Recent Popular Posts” section on the right side of the blog, you’ve probably noticed that one very not recent post stays up there.  I really ought to title the section “recently popular posts”  because it actually lists the top six posts that have been accessed the most in the past six months or so.  The one “old” post that is always on that list is the post linking to my chapter questions for the short novels Cajas de cartón and Esperanza renace.

I’ve been working on a formal ebook for Cajas de cartón off and on, much like the one I developed for the more advanced novel La ciudad de las bestias by Isabel Allende.  That list of popular posts and my Google Analytics and periodic nudging emails have been “nagging” me to keep working on it.

And it’s almost here!

Some details:

You’ll always be able to access the original reading comprehension questions via that old blog post, but I have to tell you, the new reading guide so completely overhauls them you’ll barely recognize that they’re from the same person.  Every chapter’s questions are prefaced by an extensive vocabulary section with key words and phrases and ways to work with them: conversation starters, idiom practice, proficiency-based tasks, and more.  The activities are much like what you’ll find in the Ciudad guide but I’ve added ideas for students to journal about and a section for them to investigate the culture of Francisco’s world.  It’s so extensive, you could build an entire semester course with an immigration theme off of this novel guide.  As to level, I recommend this novel for intermediate (mid-high) students.  I taught it in Spanish 3 for several years.

Since it’s such an extensive overhaul, and then there’s always the outside editing and the formatting headaches, it’s taking me at least six hours total to complete each chapter’s guide.  I had wanted to release the ebook July 1 but my workshop schedule in June took precedence and now I’m tentatively setting a release date of August 1.  I’m also traveling to visit family during this time, as well as approaching a deadline on a separate project, and that’s complicating things, so don’t hold me to that August 1 date either.  In order to accomplish this as soon as possible I’ll be off the blog and Twitter, mostly, for a while.  But you know where to find me.

The regular price for the 12-chapter guide, which I anticipate to be at least 45 pages long, will be $39.95 for the digital download and a license for the purchasing teacher to reprint the file for all his or her students for as long as he or she teaches.  At the release, the guide will be available at 25% off, $29.95, for one week only.  To celebrate the release I’ll also be offering the more advanced Ciudad guide on sale 20% off at $39.95.

More news to come!  In the meantime, please explore helpful past Musicuentos content, like the popular tags AP Spanish and student choice, or the Camp Musicuentos guide to mapping your curriculum.

Here I go back to my InDesign hole…

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July 9, 2014 1 Comment

What we learned at Camp Musicuentos

Camp Musicuentos 1


Well, last Friday came and went and the first official Camp Musicuentos is a wrap!  I had the great privilege of working with 20 outstanding teachers from across my own region and even beyond – I was joined by teachers from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Virginia!

Our learning, for you

First, let me share with you the Camp Musicuentos wikispace, where we were learning and sharing during the event.  On this wikispace, you’ll find:

  • Resources to help you develop and plan your curriculum for next year, including an editable version of my performance assessment rubric (it looks ugly in Google Drive but should open nicely for editing in Word).
  • Two templates: One to help you set proficiency goals for your program and another to help you plan the whole year
  • A list of the units and their goals I would teach at levels 1, 2, 3, 4, AP, and Spanish for Heritage Speakers.  Included is a sample integrated performance assessment for the first part of Level 1 based on the goals for the first two chapters of Descubre.
  • The curriculum maps that many of the teachers present at the event worked on and uploaded.  They are in varying stages of development depending on where everyone got to.

Now what?

I’ve gotten some great suggestions from readers via email, Twitter, and Facebook, and a lot of helpful constructive feedback from attendees via my post-survey, and my mind is spinning with what to do with Camp Musicuentos next year.  Here are some ideas going through my head:

  • Several readers have asked for an online version or webinar.  I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how to do this and frankly, not having a lot of success.  I don’t have a lot of experience with webinars.
  • There is a strong possibility for multiple locations next year.  I plan to run Camp Musicuentos at least once here in Louisville and once also in the Northeast, likely in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Other options feasible for me would be central Texas and northern Florida; I’ve also had some interest expressed for California and that’s more difficult but also something for me to think about.  In short, I’m seriously planning for one location other than Louisville next year and we’ll see what happens from there (and what I hear from you).
  • Several teachers who attended asked for more structure and I think I understand what they needed – but I don’t think I can give it unless we divide the event by level.  So I think for next year I should offer a Camp Musicuentos Novice and Camp Musicuentos Intermediate Plus (which is what I meant by “at least once” in Louisville).
  • Many of us got the impression that one nine-hour day was at the same time too intense and too short.  I’m considering offering two seven- or eight-hour days instead.  That way we could stay focused better and also accomplish more in terms of preparing you for the next school year.  Having two days would double the cost on my end and might make the workshop prohibitively expensive, so if I pursue the two-day idea I’d like to have the days themed so teachers could still attend one day or the other without it emptying those deep pockets we all know teachers have.

Please, let me know what you think about the resources available on the wikispace and any ideas or suggestions you might have.  I hope to see you at a Camp Musicuentos someday soon!

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June 30, 2014 0 Comments

Lesson plan: Indirect objects and celebrations (template too)

Hello this time from Merillville, Indiana, where I’m learning with a group of teachers from that school and other schools across the region. What fun!

This workshop’s focus is proficiency-based lesson planning.  We can say that we’re proficiency-based teachers but where the evidence of that can really be found is in our lesson plans.  Do your lesson plans show that focus?  What evidence can you give?

To help you plan a brain-based lesson that shows a proficiency focus from start to finish, I’ve developed this template with a serious nod to the wonderful Helena Curtain and her unit plan template and another one to Amy Lenord and her guide for navigating authentic resources.

Jenna Ross

Jenna Ross


As an example, here’s the lesson plan I developed when I had the special privilege to (finally!) teach a class of novices this year for the informal Camp Musicuentos in April.  I didn’t want to do something random outside what the students were actually working on, so I asked the regular teacher for guidance and she said “indirect object pronouns in the context of celebrations.”  This lesson plan is what I came up with. You have to read it to figure out why Harry Styles landed on my blog (funny note, I had to Google “teen heartthrob” to find out who teenage girls were crushing on these days – I couldn’t have named anyone from One Direction before that!).  Steal, tweak, use, share your feedback!


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June 19, 2014 1 Comment

New Podcast: What kind of corrective feedback works?

Nicolee Camacho

Nicolee Camacho


How do you mark student writing?  What kind of corrections do you make?  What kind of corrections work, that is, help students do better next time? The authors of a recent article in the journal System address these questions.  They compare two models of corrective feedback: explicitly telling a student there’s a problem, and implicitly coaching a student into self-correction.  Their findings about which type is more effective and their recommendations took me by surprise, and I’ll tell you how and why I disagree with them in this fifth episode of the Musicuentos Black Box podcast.  It’s free!

Also, stay tuned (ha!) for positive changes coming for the podcast.  This is a project that is very important to me but it definitely needs some streamlining to work better for you and me both.  An update soon!

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June 18, 2014 0 Comments

New resource: Educating parents and students on proficiency

Don’t smack me here, I know school JUST got out, but you know it’s true – it’ll be back before you know it!  And one of our most important jobs in the first days of school is educating (and selling!) parents and students on proficiency-based teaching.

Blue Square Thing

Blue Square Thing

I’m being hosted by The Webb School of Knoxville today and sharing with these teachers a resource I’d like to share with you as well.  How do you explain a proficiency focus to students and parents at the beginning of the school year? Check out this document and see if it helps.  Let me know what you think.  I’ve made it a document in Google Drive instead of a PDF or Word document to make it easy for you to edit; simply “File -> Save a copy” to copy it to your drive and make changes.  I do ask that you leave the copyright.

For a summary of a great #langchat from last year about advocating among students, teachers, and parents for proficiency-based teaching, look here.

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June 16, 2014 3 Comments

Another resource: JCPS new curriculum documents (K-12)

Brittany Randolph

Brittany Randolph


It’s a busy season for Musicuentos, can you tell?

I feel like I just said that.

I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief as an excellent cohort of teachers and I wrapped up a year-long project to lay the groundwork for something that has not existed in entirety before: an elementary curriculum map for the Jefferson County (KY) Public Schools.

If you’ve been looking at resources online for any length of time you know that JCPS has developed and is developing one of the most proficiency-focused, communicative, research-based curricula out there.  But the elementary program has been a different story.  The project to develop a district-wide map has started and stopped and fizzled several times over the years, but it’s finally happened and will continue happening.

**Edit 6/23** It seems the district has put all the documents on password protection.  Here’s the username and password:
Just kidding. I can’t even access them!  But good news, the district specialist wants them available to the public and is working on that.  Stay tuned.

You can find all the new documents online here.  Watch for updates as the great teachers at JCPS continue working on powerful assessments, resources, and lesson plans.

A few notes about the elementary curriculum:

  • JCPS categorizes elementary grades beginning with P1 as kindergarten, P2 as 1st grade, and so on.  At 4th grade the teachers stop using the P# reference.
  • We tried to address the problems that plague elementary programs – kids transferring in and out, the program getting hijacked by pull-outs and testing prep, too many students per teacher, not enough time per week. So we divided the program into two levels, with the levels layered.  Then we developed five six-week units for the last six-week period to be used as review and assessment as the state testing schedule allows.  So the first level has the same five units every year for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade, but every year the vocabulary and functions in that theme get deeper.  There’s a lot of recycling and then moving deeper.  Same with third, fourth, and fifth grades- the same theme for the unit every year with a lot of recycling and moving deeper.
  • We developed the program as if every teacher had the recommended minimum 90 minutes per week with students, which no one in the JCPS system does yet, so we actually recommend that teachers with less time throw out an entire unit instead of doing less per unit.  If it were me I would skip unit 1 in Level 1 on the assumption that kids will develop the school vocabulary as the year goes on, and in Level 2 I would combine the All About Us and Hanging Out with my Friends units.
  • There are also many core content and connections built in.
  • As teachers develop units and find resources those will be updated too, with a goal to have a really good IPA for at least each semester of 3rd-5th soon.
  • The intercultural goals are something cool and innovative but will need some improvement so you can watch for that as well.

We hope you find it useful.

I’m going to take a nap now.

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June 12, 2014 6 Comments

Introducing the past tenses together

Jhon Emmanuel

Jhon Emmanuel


Have you ever stopped to think about why we teach the past tenses separately?

When I first started investigating TPRS as a teaching method, a lot of things clicked with me (and some didn’t) but one of the tips that made the most sense was that it didn’t make sense to teach past tenses one at a time.  I think I know why we do it, because we think that breaking it into two steps will make students be able to do it better.  However, there are several glaring problems with this.

  1. No one uses them that way.
    Speakers do not use them separately; the whole point of how the past tenses (in Spanish, and in French too I think?) work is that how they work together.
  2. They often don’t follow the “rules.”
    You know this is true. As soon as you teach that the sudden past is used for something or other then some student finds some example and says, “But, Señor, why is it descriptive past in this part?”
    “Um…um…” You don’t know. I don’t either.  My standard answer is “Because the choice was all in the speaker’s/writer’s head and we’re not in there.”
  3. Acquisition doesn’t happen that way.
    When children are learning language they (of course) do not acquire one past tense and then the other.  My kindergartener, when telling a story, will use them in equally correct and incorrect ways with the same frequency.
  4. Learners can’t do it one at a time any better anyway.
    We often try to introduce past tense (with Spanish it’s usually the sudden past) at the end of Level 1 through the middle of Level 2, but a lot of students will not even reach Intermediate Low by the end of Level 2 and won’t get out of Intermediate at the end of four levels, which is what it takes to accurately choose and manipulate the past tenses more than half the time.  Isn’t that a relief?  It isn’t just your students who STILL can’t come up with me lastimé after you’ve drilled it and killed it!  So if it turns out we’re not actually gaining anything by separating them, why do it?

After I started approaching the past as a communicative goal, things started to make a lot more sense to all of us.  One of my major goals for Spanish 3 – out of only 3 major goals – was refining the ability to narrate a story, because this is something we all do all day every day.  We approached and practiced the past tenses together and throughout the entire year as part of the communicative function of narrating a story.  It was beautiful. It was so much easier for me to contrast them, and it was so much easier for students to understand their use.  Here are a few tips we learned along the way:

  • Introduce it as a timeline. (This post started out to be all about this timeline, and then I realized we needed some background first, so watch soon for a separate post illustrating this technique of storytelling as a timeline.)  From the first story to the last, draw a horizontal line and mark the beginning of the story and the end.  The sudden events are above.  The descriptive events are below.  This visualization not only divides the concept of the two, but also shows how they tend to cluster in various parts of the story.
  • Instead of dividing by tense, divide by subject.  Work on he/she for a while (it fits well with retelling stories you’re using as comprehensible input).  Then add yo, and the rest, one by one or two at the most.  Students will extract patterns better.
  • Include the irregulars all the time.  Irregular (especially preterit) verbs are some of the most common verbs used in the past.  It’s counterproductive and difficult to keep saying “Don’t use that one, we’re not there yet.”
  • Mark and focus on transitions.  Transitions are a key skill in themselves but also tend to trigger one type of verb or the other (“When I was a little girl….” “And suddenly….”).
  • Ask about it (in TL) the whole year.  The skill of narrating in the past is very slow to develop; if you’ve been teaching any length of time you know this.  Every time you read a story, ask.  Every time you look at a news article, ask.  Every time students tell a story, ask.  Here are questions that come up almost every class period throughout the whole year in Spanish 3 and 4 for us:
    - what time is this in?
    - is it sudden or descriptive?
    - how do you know?
    - what caused it?
    - can you use it in a similar way?
    - why did you pick that way to say that verb?
    - should it be descriptive or sudden?
    - why?
    - can you fix it?
    - who can help [her] fix it?

Work on the past tenses together and make it part of a large focus of an entire level.  You’ll watch it make more sense to students and be easier for you to teach as learners begin to narrate the past faster and with more accuracy.  If your learners have achieved intermediate level and are ready to work on refining verb endings, my free verb pack for Spanish includes both past tenses and the complete verb pack includes eight illustrated charts.  They’re a handy reference that help students visualize the structures that help them grow to be more accurate in their language production.

Go tell a story and have fun doing it!

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June 10, 2014 0 Comments

Time for you to get feedback?

For many of you, especially in the southern U.S., this is coming a little too late, but some of you may still be in school and have a chance to do this.

If you haven’t thought about surveying your students, it’s a great way for you to get feedback on the one thing that really counts for long-term success with your students: what they really think about their language learning.  This feedback can inform your planning for next year.  In our case, it got us asking, what can we do to fix this problem:

8th grade yes no pie


And even better if you know the reasons why it came out like this:

8th grade no reasons

Wow, you mean all that time I spend trying to show kids how useful my language is only speaks to a very small percentage and where I really need to be focusing is on why they hate it?  That is some useful feedback!

What about the content itself?  When we did this survey we had a new teacher coming in and it was very helpful to say, look, here’s what our 8th graders thought they could do last year and it seems we need some more practice on, for example,

8th grade no school

I don’t have any such nice charts to show you results from our other surveys, but if I’d taken the time to graph them this way I bet I’d have gotten equally useful feedback.  If you’d like to survey your students on why they’re in class or not and what they think they can do, here are the surveys I designed:

Ready to chart your feedback and help other teachers see what students really think?  How about guest-posting your survey results on Musicuentos?

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June 3, 2014 0 Comments

Product launch: Calico Spanish homeschool learning series

It’s a busy season for Musicuentos, can you tell?

If you’ve been traveling this road with me for any length of time, you know that I was homeschooled from the fifth through twelfth grades.  Homeschooling is certainly not for everyone, but it is a great option for many families and was exactly what my family needed, as I felt bored and stifled by the imposed structure of school and my brother was slipping through the cracks with learning difficulties his classroom couldn’t accommodate.  Now we’re embarking on our own homeschooling journey with an aspiring kindergartener who’s taught herself to read at a second grade level and seems ready for a more challenging, flexible program than your average kindergarten class.   So when Erica Fisher asked me to think with her about what a homeschool elementary Spanish curriculum might look like, it didn’t take me very long to sign on.  And so Calico Spanish Homeschool Learning Series was born, and is finally here.  It’s HERE! (Well, not here with me, but you know what I mean.)

I’m really proud to be the primary author on this curriculum and I’m convinced there isn’t anything available more engaging and effective for homeschooling families, or even for families whose school does not offer Spanish and they’d like to learn together.  I’d be the first to tell someone that learners can’t develop real proficiency on their own, and that was a question as we approached this project – people all over are asking, where’s a product that can help me learn Spanish when I don’t have a teacher who speaks Spanish?  The fact is, you have to interact with the target language community in order to develop higher proficiency in a language, but does that mean you can’t learn to do anything on your own?  I don’t think so.  So we set out to design something that would help learners acquire real language skills at home.  Here are some of the features, and I’m betting you’ll see how they mirror the Musicuentos philosophy:

  • Proficiency-based learning targets based on ACTFL I Can statements
  • I Can goals for every lesson
  • Language presented through engaging, interactive video stories
  • Language practiced through Calico’s fun music program
  • Ideas and strategies for getting lots of repetitions of key language elements
  • Focus on communicative skills with language elements (animals, colors, numbers) presented in small, achievable chunks

This curriculum is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  I’m continually annoyed by curricula that purport to get students “using” long vocabulary lists quickly so this curriculum presents vocabulary and skills as bite-size, achievable chunks.  And they’re all presented within the highly comprehensible context of simple stories and songs that are geared toward the communicative skills of, for Level A, talking about myself.  Children learn to greet someone, introduce themselves, describe themselves a bit and mention things like what they like.

If you are a homeschooler or know a homeschooling family who wants to incorporate Spanish into the elementary learning journey, visit Calico’s website.  And before you know it I’ll be posting about the launch of Level B, where Pepe the dog, Goyo the cat, and Camilo the rabbit help kids learn to talk about their families!


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June 2, 2014 0 Comments