Well, I wish it was easy to recommend curriculum for 3rd-5th grade Spanish but unfortunately there are not many options for upper elementary Spanish classes. These students are unique in their needs because…
- Reading – They are transitioning from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” so while they can technically “read” many students still struggle to gain information and have the skills to “tackle” larger, more complex text. They are also still developing the ability to summarize or develop reading comprehension in their native language.
- Subject Matter – Most all middle school or high school materials try to include engaging and compelling content targeting those students (¡Es obvio!) but many times these are not the same interests as 8-11 year olds and many times they are not appropriate for those ages. (Examples – boyfriend/girlfriend, informational texts that just feel too advanced or sensitive for those ages)
- Speed of Acquisition and Class time – Most elementary programs do not see their students everyday or even every other day. I have 3rd-5th twice a week for 45 min. Most curriculum is written for that traditional Spanish 1 setting of 5 days a week. So that means my students are going to go slower because I don’t have them as often. I have to stretch out materials over weeks instead of days and also I have to review much more because I haven’t seen my students for 2-4 days.
- New students – It is unlikely you will get a “new student” in 9th grade Spanish 2 who has had no Spanish before. This would be a scheduling error and (hopefully) be quickly fixed. But in elementary SLA it is very common to have a class of 4th graders who have had Spanish since Kindergarten but also 2 new students to the school who have never had Spanish. Talk about differentiation!! That is going to change your classroom and instruction in ways traditional curriculum isn’t written to accommodate.
- Not a graded subject – Most elementary SLA classes are graded like other “special” classes using a system like E – excellent, S – Satisfactory, N – Needs Improvement, U – Unsatisfactory or some combination of this. This means there is no real grade motivation. Things have to be compelling and class has to be extra engaging in order to keep students attention and motivation to learn. Any formal assessment is purely for guiding instruction.
- Developmental differences in upper elementary – attention span, ability and stamina to read long texts, English vocabulary to recognize Spanish cognates, ability to summarize or use context clues, ability/stamina to copy things off the board, write large amounts of text or type, independent technology skills
And the list goes on. (Feel free to add to the list in the comments!) So what is a K-5, K-8 Spanish teacher to do. Well, like I said earlier, I can’t give you a solid easy answer but I can show you what I do. (When I have time one of these days…(lol) I have a fun idea for a 3rd-5th specific Spanish curriculum but for now it is only a dream)