“Today we are kicking off a mini-proyecto (mini project)!” began Yolanda Martín, Class 6 teacher and Advisor. She soon revealed to the students seated inside room 615 that they were to write un relato corto (a short story) en Español.
Displayed on the board at the front of the room were three columns under the headings: Personaje (character), Ambiente (setting), and Problema (problem) – all of which are important elements that make a strong story. Profe Martín instructed her students to combine one item from each column when crafting their tales.
Underneath personje, for example, there was ‘un dragon hambriento,’ (a hungry dragon) ‘una abejita curiosa,’ (a curious bee) and ‘un brujo malvado,’ (an evil sorcerer). While the students were not held to these examples, they were available to serve as catalysts for their imaginations.
Before delving into this creative assignment, the students practiced reading descriptions in Spanish of various cities and their inhabitants. They also reviewed a list of adjectives that could be used in their writing, such as grande (big), costera (coastal), tranquila (quiet), antigua (ancient), pequeña (little), and histórica (historical), among others. Similarly, they studied details to enhance their storytelling techniques, including pertenencia y cualidades físicas’ (belonging and physical qualities) and sensacion fisicas (physical sensation).
Charged with excitement, the sixth graders opened a Google Doc and got straight to work. While their task was an individual project, the students chatted joyfully (but quietly!) at their tables about this creative endeavor.
One student’s tale involved a brave butterfly who is unable to fly and gets lost in the woods. Other premises being toyed with involved an evil witch, a princess stuck in a tree, and dogs named Cece and Cam. “I’m so intrigued!” Profe Martín praised.
As ideas swirled, their teacher circled the room, helping students with difficult translations and questions. After many students wondered what the translation was for the popular storybook opening “Once upon a time,” for example, she wrote “Érase una vez…” on the whiteboard.
“Think about how you want to narrate and decide whether you want to write in 1st, 2nd or 3rd person,” she added, noting that the verb conjugations will be different depending on their choice.
In addition to incorporating dialogue between their characters, the students wanted to include the Spanish translations for animal sounds as well. With the help of Profe Martín, they learned ‘¡guau guau!’ (woof woof!) and ‘miau’ (meow), among others.
As the productive class neared its end, Profe Martín noted, “We have two weeks to complete this project! You do not have to worry about finishing today.”
Before departing for their next class, Profe Martín asked the students to share a word or expression they had learned that day. One student said that she hadn’t known the word for dragon, another discovered the translation of “hot pink,” and a third learned that ‘de repente’ means suddenly.
If this initial brainstorm was any indication, our sixth-grade scholars are well on their way to crafting exciting stories, full of inspired ideas. And, once their stories are complete, the Middle Schoolers get to read their imaginative works aloud to our Lower School students!