Cascades Academy Independent School PK-12
Spanish in the 4th and 5th Grade Classroom

The learning rhythm of 4th and 5th grade Spanish flows in such a way as to engage various learning styles and to meet students with varying levels of challenge. Each day begins with a discussion of a familiar topic, the calendar. Students are asked to identify the day of the week, the date including the year, the season, the weather, and the time. Then, students are asked a rotating conversation question, which they answer in our daily conversation circle. As students learn new vocabulary, new questions are added to the rotation. When it is time to learn new vocabulary, students explore new vocabulary with simple reading activities in which the vocabulary is integrated into the context. Comprehension is supported by visual cues. These readings are done aloud as a group with students following along. Reading aloud allows the students to link what they are processing visually with correct pronunciation. Reading together is followed by writing activities, which serve to reinforce new vocabulary engage muscle memory as a tool to aid retention.

The following few classes, we play kinesthetic movement games that engage playful competition to encourage excitement for and memorization of the material. For students who are highly visual, I have incorporated into the rotation digital games that are rich with imagery as well as handheld card games that link in the student's mind an image that conveys meaning with the associated word or phrase in Spanish. Once students have become fairly proficient with the new vocabulary, we again do reading and writing activities. At this point, the focus of the writing activities is to deepen and confirm comprehension of the text as a whole rather than encourage acquisition of specific vocabulary, because now students are able to understand the new vocabulary in context and can focus instead on the overall meaning of the text as a whole. Because students work at different paces, we have been incorporating the use of a learning app called duolingo into the classroom. Students who finish earlier can work independently with duolingo, which is able to use real-time data analysis to assess a student's individual level and meet them with an appropriate level of challenge. This allows every student to have ample time to complete their activities and also ensures that every student stays engaged and challenged.

-Ms. Newman, Lower School Spanish Teacher

4th and 5th Graders Build Robot Hands
4th and 5th Graders Build Robot Hands

Fourth and fifth graders have started the new year figuring out how the human body works. Specifically, they are reconstructing how a human hand moves by building a "robot" hand out of paper and string. By understanding that we have muscles that pull tendons that move bones like a robot has motors that pull strings that move rods, the students can visualize better how our joints move. This week they each built a robot finger, and next week teams will work together to build a robot hand. Without a thumb, however, it will have some limitations, but I already heard one student say he had a plan for building a thumb. I am always impressed with the students' creativity and enthusiasm for learning. This week was no exception. I am looking forward to watching them use the robot hands to throw a ball or scoop up a wad of paper. They have the desire and dedication to make it happen!

-Dr. Eklund, Science Teacher

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