Sonrisas Spanish Blog

Teaching Tips from Sonrisas Spanish

From Our Classrooms to Yours

As the end of the school year approaches, many teachers get very busy with all of the different activities that seem to get piled on as the school year comes to a close. We also get very excited with anticipation about closing out another year of teaching Spanish. In short, the end of the year can be a very distracting time. This is unfortunate because the end of the school year should be a time for reflection. Reflection is one of the most important teaching strategies that you can utilize. Reflection gives you the opportunity to ask yourself, “What is More >

The Sonrisas Spanish curriculum follows the recommendation of ACTFL that the instructor stay in the target language at least 90% of the time. We dedicate a whole section in our teacher’s manuals to strategies to accomplish this goal, and there are many resources for teachers on staying in the target language. But beyond instructional strategies there is one very important thing to keep in mind about staying in the target language—it’s a leap of faith. You must take that leap.

Despite your doubts, despite your fears, despite what parents may think, you can do it. You can teach your class entirely in More >

One of the best practices in the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum is to speak Spanish at least 90% of the time in your classes. This is the recommended usage that ACTFL suggests, and this is absolutely attainable with the Sonrisas lessons. At the same time, you want to insure that you are providing comprehensible input for your students. Research has shown that when students get lots of repetition with comprehensible input, they acquire language naturally and easily. All of the activities, songs, stories, and art projects in our curriculum employ visuals, props, gestures, body movement, modeling, routine and repetitive language to make the More >

One of the biggest challenges for elementary Spanish teachers is differentiating for students that have vastly different levels of comprehension and speaking skills. How do we address this issue, and what are some practical techniques that we can use in the classroom to differentiate?

It’s worth noting that it is very common, in all types of elementary Spanish programs, for kids to have varying degrees of Spanish skills. Some children are more linguistically intelligent than others. Some may have had more Spanish instruction than others. Some may be new to a class and not had any prior Spanish instruction at all. More >

One of the things I love about the first part of the school year is getting to know my students. With each new class, I get to meet a whole new group of individual children with their individual and interesting personalities. This is truly one of the rewards of teaching. Along with getting to know my students, I also always try and spend some time at the beginning of the school year making connections with each of them. Depending on the size of my classes this can be a challenge, but it is one well-worth undertaking as it can reap More >

Meet Katy Harris

Katy Harris began teaching kindergarten in 1993 in Steamboat Springs, CO after attending the University of Arizona and receiving her degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish and an endorsement in bilingual education. In 2005 Katy took a break from teaching to raise her two boys. During this time she tutored and taught Spanish to a homeschool co-op group of elementary through middle school students. When she returned to teaching in the public schools in 2012, she taught reading intervention and then landed a job teaching Spanish at Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat. Katy More >

Meet Irene Quinonez

Irene holds both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in education from Arizona State University with a minor in Spanish. After a thirty-year career as a teacher and curriculum specialist in the Mesa Unified School District, she retired and went into the mortgage business for nine years. Irene was approached by the principal at Christ the King Catholic School in Mesa, Arizona about teaching Spanish, and she accepted. She is in her sixth year of teaching there, and she teaches eleven different classes in grades K-8. When Irene started teaching Spanish, she noted that the More >

Meet Rebecca Schackow

Rebecca graduated from the University of Florida in 1999 with a degree in Spanish and Education. She moved to Denver, CO where she helped create the elementary and middle school Spanish program at St. Thomas Moore Catholic School. After teaching for two years, Rebecca moved back to Florida and spent twelve years raising her children. Two years ago she was offered the opportunity to teach Spanish at Brentwood School in Gainesville. Rebecca teaches Spanish to every class at Brentwood—two year olds to 5th grade—with each level receiving one class per week ranging from 15 to 30 minutes long. She More >

Once again summer is coming to a close, and it is time to start planning and prepping for a new school year. Summer break is a valuable time for teachers to relax, reflect, and recharge. Hopefully you are feeling rejuvenated and excited about the year to come and all the rewards that it has to offer. As you get ready to teach your Spanish classes, here are five things you can do to plan and prep for your Sonrisas Spanish lessons:

  1. Read the introduction to your teachers manual thoroughly. The introduction is an in-depth look at the methodologies and implementation of More >

  Meet Sonja Whisman

Sonja began teaching in southern California in the early 90´s where she taught primary classes in grades K-3 (one being a K-2 combo for native speakers in Spanish). In the mid 90’s she moved to Texas and then Iowa where she home-schooled her children for seven years. Sonja worked as a substitute in Iowa, and as the local school districts learned that she could speak Spanish, she was called frequently for long-term Spanish substitute teaching jobs. She found that she really enjoyed it, and she discovered that the Midwest has vibrant foreign language programs. She enjoyed teaching More >