Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spanish 1 Curriculum

A task that I'm working on this month is to re-write the curriculum for Spanish 1 and 2.  Our current curriculum is written in LFS (Learning Focused Schools) format and we have permission to write the curriculum to make it more TPRS-friendly = more language acquisition friendly!

My goal in writing the curriculum is to have a list of certain words that all Spanish 1 students will know by the end of the school year.  Since it probably is too daunting of a task to teach from only a list of words, I broke it down into a Curriculum Matrix (CM) described below.  FYI - We have two semesters/year.  The classes in each semester are 70 minutes for 90 days.

- There are 6-8 days of TPR, with a list verbs and misc. vocab. to be taught in those days

- There are 3 sections of TPRS with focus words.  
During the 1st section of TPRS, the focus is solely on the él/ella form with the tú and ellos/ellas forms appearing if/when needed in the story.  
In the 2nd section of TPRS, the tú and ellos/ellas forms are stressed more, and the yo form is also introduced in stories with dialogue.  
In the final section of TPRS, the nosotros/nosotras forms will be stressed. So by the third section, a story could easily have ALL the different subject pronouns and accompanying forms of the verbs.  
I'm not sure what to do about the vosotros/vosotras form in the CM.  I was the only teacher at my school that taught this form because it is in literature, books, a video series, and songs from Spain that I use in Spanish 3 and higher so why ignore it in Spanish 1 & 2?  That never made sense to me, but I may be in the minority.

- List of words to add into stories to cover additional vocabulary (mostly nouns and adjectives).    As we (any teacher using TPRS with Spanish 1 this year) go through the semester, we will check off the words that the students have acquired (it was used as a focus word) and those they are familiar with.  We'll have to determine a way to differentiate between the two.

- Grammar Box that will be covered with pop-up grammar and in context in stories; not in the traditional way with a worksheets and drills. 

- Cognate List mostly from our old textbook + I'll attach lists from websites to encourage teachers to use them when needed.

- List of Basic Words like Señor, gracias, etc. that students already know or will pick up within a short period of time that are not formally included/written in the 3 TPRS sections even though they will be used in many of the stories.

- Readers for Spanish 1.  Teachers will choose 2 of the books listed to complete in Spanish 1; 3 if there is time.  

Items still needed:
- Culture Items. There will be cultural information that we agree to cover in this first level either from the Spanish readers, or by incorporating that information in our stories.  (i.e. the importance of the family unit, the Plaza Mayor, meal times, foods, etc.) 
- Agreed amount of time for FVR and/or "Kindergarten Day" 
- List of songs.

I've embedded my second draft below. (updated 6/19/12)  It is still a work in progress. When I go to the NTPRS conference, I'd like to get some feedback on it and tweak it, or do a major overhaul, whatever is needed. You should start on the 2nd page because for some reason it wouldn't let me reorder the pages.  

Please feel free to send me your suggestions, comments, and advice on the above draft. I welcome your input.


  1. Hi! I am intrigued by your curriculum map. I am curious if you did tweak or overhaul it at all?
    Also: When you say that there are three sections of TPRS, what, exactly, do you mean? I am a newbie to TPRS/CI, and, I am struggling with how/when to introduce verbs, and, more specifically, all of the forms of a verb. I look forward to your reply. Thank you for your blog. It is a wonderful resource!

    1. It is (still) in the process of being tweaked. The challenge is that since I wrote the above initial matrix/curriculum and tested it for one year, we have hired two new young teachers that did not have TPRS experience, 1 with no teaching experience, PLUS I am no longer teaching Spanish 1.
      My focus was to train the teachers on using TPRS and TCI first. I worked with one of the teachers this summer to rewrite the Spanish 3 curriculum and had hoped to work on Spanish 1 also, but time did not permit that.
      After my busy months of June and July with trips and conferences, I will have a few short weeks that I hope to work on the curriculum for Spanish 1 on my own time.

      In teaching Sp1, the teachers start with a few days of TPR followed by TPRS stories with high frequency words. The two novels we use are Agentes Secretos, and Los Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto. We also include several MovieTalks (i.e. Alma using the materials I created in 2011) and other film shorts, and 2 chapters of Carol Gaab's Cuentame Mas text.
      As far as when to introduce different forms of the verbs, we start with él/ella but use YO and TÚ from the start when asking questions and finding information about the students to help personalize the stories. ELLOS comes easily for the students and NOSOTROS tends to be one of the last forms they are exposed to simply because it is trickier to weave that into the conversations. We may be a bit old-school in that we don't introduce the past tenses until Spanish 2.
      "Three sections of TPRS" meant that the words were sorted into 3 groups in an effort to make all Spanish 1 classes more uniform regardless of which teacher taught the class. However, if a word in Group C was used in a story when the teacher was focusing on the words in Group A, that is not a problem.
      Does that make sense? I apologize if my explanations aren't as clear as I want them to be. :/
      IMO, the most important thing when teaching the first level, is to focus on the high frequency words/verbs and only add in new material when you see that students are comfortably using those words. More is less. Sounds counterproductive but when the students have those High Frequency Words down solid, that strong foundation will move them forward more quickly (and comfortably) when new words and structures are introduced.

  2. Thank you for your very detailed explanation to my questions. I really appreciate it. I also enjoy your blog very much, and thank you for sharing your work, progress and resources.

  3. Thank you for your very detailed explanation to my question. I am most appreciative. I enjoy your blog very much, and thank you for sharing your work, progress and resources.