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by Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell on Nov 14, 2016

Maximize your district/school time limits Pt 1: Leverage computer time

What’s the top complaint of elementary world language teachers?  TIME.

MAXIMIZE YOUR DISTRICT%2FSCHOOL TIME LIMITSI cannot tell you how often I hear teachers and world language district specialists alike lament the prevailing mood in schools and districts that we really ought to be producing better results in language proficiency in our younger learners, and we really ought to be doing it in 1/5 of the time high school teachers have.

Seriously, I meet a lot of teachers, and I rarely meet a teacher who has more than 90 minutes per week with her students, and even those are rare.  Thirty to 40 minutes is more typical, and as for me, I see my elementary kids once a week for 60 minutes, and when I was in a formal school situation I saw my early learners for 20 minutes per week.

What are you going to do in 20 minutes per week?

Not much, unless you get creative.

Welcome to our short series on ways you can maximize your limited time with your early learners.  Here’s tip #1 – and stay tuned til the bottom, where I share a great new free platform we discovered for creating interactive, kid-friendly games.

Team up with the computer teacher.

Sure, my students only saw me 20 minutes per week, but I’m not the only source of input, and they also saw their computer teacher for at least that amount of time per week.  Take a walk down the hall and chat over a coffee with your techy colleague and try to come up with a plan where the students’ computer time can sometimes kill two birds with one stone: give more Spanish exposure and interaction, AND create technology learning opportunities.

But what will they do?

Explore authentic children’s content

Many sites created for Spanish-speaking children contain safe, accessible language for your learners, too.  What about watching a pictocuento or singing Disney karaoke or doing a geography quiz?

Go shopping

Children can get some interesting exposure to intercultural differences and similarities.  What about exploring the toys section of Amazon Spain?  Kids can even create a wish list and email it to you!

Schedule some fun

Schedules for kid-friendly festivals are easy to find and often have their schedules (dates! days! activity words! times!) online.  Can your learners plan, for example, what they want to check out at the Festival Internacional del Globo?

Play a game

Try our animal identification games on Sugarcane!

Try our animal identification games on Sugarcane!

New interactive game sites are making it easier and easier for you to develop games directly related to your content that kids can play on their own time and in computer class.  Quizlets on your class vocabulary immediately come to mind.

Even better, we’ve recently discovered Sugarcane, a new platform we really like, and we used the fun animal characters from the Calico Spanish Stories & Homeschool programs to create five different games related to animal words, identification, and description.  In all we’ve created 38 Spanish learning games on the Sugarcane platform.  Check them out and share the games with your learners’ computer teacher.  Then, try creating your own Sugarcane game!

Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell
Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell is a homeschool mom of three bilingual children. She’s also a Spanish teacher and the COO and chief storyteller for Calico Spanish.

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