Grammar: It’s Not a 1 and Done!

When I taught from the textbook, I taught grammar level by level. What I mean is that I taught present tense verbs, some commands, stem changers, and present progressive in level 1 then abandoned those verbs for reflexives, pretérito and imperfecto in level 2 and on and on…. when we finished chapter 2 and had memorized every conjugation of every reflexive verb in the Spanish language (that may be an exaggeration), we moved on and never talked about them again. There just wasn’t time! it was like I was at one of those hotdog eating contests and I was cramming everything in as fast as I could… most kids weren’t pro eaters and couldn’t keep up!

One of the things I have loved about building my own Scope and sequence is that I can use whatever verb forms are appropriate for what my students want to talk about without fearing they are doing grammar that is too hard!

This week my Spanish 2s are doing a Señor Wooly song, No voy a levantarme. Grammar is really just a chunk of language that i can give my students to communicate what they want, need, or are interested in… so I didn’t teach them verb charts and give them all the verbs they might ever use… the ones we don’t do today will come up at other times and it will give me a chance to revisit these! Our chunks came directly from the song! Me despierto, me levanto, me duermo, me ducho… we had a lot of PQA (personalized questions and answers as a discussion of class habits) to get repetitions of the structures and we watched the video, sang the song, and did the embedded readings available with a Pro subscription!

On day 1, we did the lyric Cloze sheet from the extras and we picture talked the images from the video’s slideshow of stills. It let me expose them to our target structures in the 3rd person form and PQA to get the 1st and 2nd person too!

Today, we did the viewing guide (did Justin sing this in the video) from the extras packet, the novice level embedded reading and a little FVR.

Tomorrow we will tell a class story and I will go back to some PQA as we use the structures to discuss a character that will have similarities to Justin from the video! On Thursday, using this word cloud (the dashes are there to keep the me attached), they will do a 20 minute timed write about their habits and routines.

On Friday, they will get a ton of great exposure to the song structures as they tackle some of the “nuggets” that accompany it!

Essentially, we are doing a grammar lesson, right?? I mean I am selecting verbs that I know are part of a family… but in their eyes it is just a lot of talking and smiling as we learn about how late Bella gets up or how Sydney brushes her teeth 4 times a day! But I keep going back to the same few, making sure they’re not just memorizing things they can’t use… they’re really starting to acquire and produce them correctly!

Don’t feel like grammar in a song, a book, an article, or an authentic resource means you have to stop everything and teach a grammar unit! It isn’t a hotdog eating contest…take little nibbles over and over and they’ll eventually end up digesting the whole concept… and everyone will be able to do it in their own time!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at gmail.com.

3 thoughts

  1. I absolutely love this post!! I have a Sr. Wooly Pro subscription, but I have only used it once this year. I feel it is a very valuable tool, but I struggle with how to implement it in my curriculum. Not only did I learn something about how grammar is a part of what we do as sort of a sidebar, but I learned about how you are using a Sr. Wooly song to provide great input. This post really helps me wrap my mind around using the site for the benefit of my students. Thanks so much for sharing this post!

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