Sonrisas Spanish Blog

Teaching Tips from Sonrisas Spanish

From Our Classrooms to Yours

We have all heard about the importance and need for collaboration among educators. Grade-level teachers should collaborate to align outcomes. Within content areas, teachers should collaborate to align standards and instructional practices. Administrators should collaborate to become better instructional coaches. What about preschool and elementary Spanish teachers? Many of us work alone, with no other foreign language teachers on our campus. Many of us don’t even have a classroom. Most of our colleagues don’t understand foreign language education. Even though all of this may be true, the fact is that elementary and preschool teachers should collaborate too.

The benefits of collaboration More >

During the recent break for the holidays, Blue and I were talking about one of the most overlooked and valuable strategies for teachers — reflection. Reflection gives you the opportunity to ask yourself, “What is working in my teaching? What is not working? What do I need to change and how can I do it? What do I want my students to come away with when they are finished with my class?” These are important questions, but while we are in the thick of planning, prepping, and teaching it is challenging to find the time to address them. When you More >

Here at Sonrisas Spanish we are big fans of good books, and by “good books” we mean books that are effective at teaching Spanish to children. Quiero a los Animales, by Flora McDonnell, is a good book. It includes two important elements of an effective teaching book: illustrations that convey the meaning of the text and clear, thematic vocabulary that allows for multiple teaching opportunities.

Quiero a los animales has huge, gorgeous illustrations. The sheer size of each one, covering both the left and right-hand pages of the book, engages children’s imagination and draws them into the story. The illustrations are not More >

Our new Level I Student Workbooks provide students with fun activities that help to strengthen their comprehension, reading, and writing skills. The workbooks can also be used as a valuable assessment tool for teachers. As mentioned in the previous post, the workbook activities directly support the performance guidelines and communication objectives for each lesson. As a result, teachers are able to use the work that students do as a formative assessment for each lesson.

The assessment rubrics that accompany the Sonrisas Spanish lessons include the communication objective as the goal while the performance guidelines serve as a baseline measure for “Meets expectations,” More >

As mentioned in our previous post, we did not want to create student workbooks that merely provided busy-work for students. The activities in our new Level I Student Workbooks provide students with an opportunity to do independent work that develops their comprehension, reading, and writing skills in Spanish. The workbook activities engage students in the interpretive mode of communication. Students are required to read text, answer information, interpret questions, and demonstrate comprehension by completing a task or writing.

Each workbook activity corresponds directly with each lesson in Sonrisas Level I. Each lesson has a Communication Objective and Performance Guidelines. The Performance Guidelines More >

For many years, the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum has not included student workbooks. Our lessons provide a very dynamic and comprehensive learning experience for students. The structure of our lessons with Circle Time, Story Time and Art Time gives students plenty to do and plenty to learn—immersing them in all three modes of communication—interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. We always felt that if the curriculum were implemented thoroughly and effectively that there was no great need for student workbooks. Most of the workbooks that we researched seemed to promote rote learning and provide mostly busy work for students. This was a trap we More >

Blogs come in many different forms and styles. What we have tried to accomplish with the Sonrisas Spanish Blog is to provide you with a source of information to learn more about teaching Spanish to preschool and elementary children. We have been doing this for over four years now, and there are 79 posts in this blog. That’s a lot of information. We wanted to remind you—from posts that you can use as advocacy for foreign language learning to book reviews to tips on teaching—there’s a lot to learn here! The category links at the right can help you find More >

Being a teacher is so interesting and challenging. Teachers need to master many different skills, possess broad knowledge in many subjects, and have deep knowledge in their content area. Classroom management is one of the most important skills a teacher must have. Even the most focused and knowledgeable teacher will not be effective if she is not able to manage her class well. For teachers of preschool and elementary Spanish, there are some very simple and effective techniques that you can use to make your class run smoothly and keep your students engaged.

First, and we have written about this before More >

It goes without saying that a big contributor to the success of your preschool or elementary Spanish class is how well you plan for your lesson. Sometimes, when you are following a curriculum like the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum, it is easy to get into a rut of thinking that all your planning is done for you. While we have written detailed lessons for you and outlined the steps for each lesson, there is still planning that you need to do to make the lessons run smoothly. Here are some reminders that will insure that your Sonrisas lesson is effective.

  1. Read the More >

As you enter the second half of the school year, this is a good time to think about how you can build upon the language that your students have acquired so far in the Sonrisas lessons. In this blog we will outline some simple strategies that you can use to increase your students’ acquisition.

First, if there are any songs, games or activities from your early lessons that you had discontinued, this is a good time to re-introduce these into your Circle Time routine. Your students will welcome the familiarity of these, and they will benefit from the repetition. This includes More >