- Hellgate High School
- Classroom Updates
None of us make it out of here alive.Posted by Connie Moothart on 11/5/2019
Every morning as I come into my classroom, I always make sure to take a moment to look out the window. I'm very lucky to have a beautiful view of Mt. Sentinel, and on these chilly fall mornings, the sun is usually starting to peek out just before first period starts. I have enjoyed the changing of the leaves, and the first flurries of snow, all through my windows on the third floor.
As the leaves brown, and the sun is slower and slower to appear each day, it's a reminder that the seasons change, time is constantly moving forward, and a slowness and quiet fills the air. It's appropriate, in a way, that this is the time of year where we spend a good chunk of class time talking about death.
Now, that may be startling to some people. Let me explain! In Mexico, and many other countries in Latin America, the end of October and beginning of November is the time of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This celebration is dedicated to the memories and spirits of loved ones who have passed on. It is a time of celebration, of festivities, and of recognition of our own mortality.
Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 students both got to learn about this beautiful holiday through the Disney/Pixar film Coco, which tells the story of a young man learning about the importance of family and the importance of memory on this special day. These classes also did watched informative videos and listened to songs to help round out their understanding.
In Spanish 3, we took a more in-depth look at the attitudes towards death in Mexico, by reading excerpts from legendary author Octavio Paz's essay "Todos Santos, Dia de Muertos." We also examined the pre-hispanic roots of the holiday, and looked at more modern celebrations in the US. Additonally, students spent three days researching and writing Calaveras, a type of poem popular around Dia de los Muertos.
Just as I am grateful for my beautiful window to the outside world, I hope my students were grateful for the chance to look at a topic that is often considered taboo in a new and different way. As the leaves change, as the snow falls, as our lives march on towards our shared destiny, may we all pause to remember the people in our lives, be they with us physically or not, who made us who we are today.
¿Cómo eres? ¿Cómo es...? ¿Cómo eras?Posted by Connie Moothart on 10/8/2019
One month down! As we move through the school year, I have found myself asking those three questions above a lot. Roughly, they translate to "What are you like?, What is he/she like?, What did you used to be like?" They have made up some of our key points in class as of late.
Spanish 1 students have just begun working with adjectives, and using them along with the very important verb ser to describe both themselves, and other people. We have been using that same verb to practice telling time and saying the date. These students have been dilligently working on a project where they create a calendar page for their birthday month, including spelled out days and numbers, and some other significant holidays. After a quiz on their current vocabulary of adjectives, we will move on to discussing nouns, and larger discussions of grammatical gender as a whole.
In Spanish 2, our questions of description and identity have been directed towards notable Latino and Hispanic figures, as students have been working on research presentations to recognize and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. These presentations have been incredibly impressive so far, and I am excited to see the remaining ones this week.
Our last question of ¿cómo eras? firmly belongs to Spanish 3 students. They have been working with the imperfect tense, which is used to talk about descriptions in the past. We've done a lot of comparing how we used to be to how we are now. I love getting to hear what my students were like in their younger days, and I delight in them discovering a shared favorite book, TV show, or activity from their past with another student.
Overall, these explorations of what we and other people are like are not only a hugely important skill in second language aquisition, but are helping to foster cultural knowledge and a positive classroom culture as well.
Adios verano, hola escuela!Posted by Connie Moothart on 9/12/2019
Another summer has come to a close, and the halls are once again full of students. Fresh notebooks, sharp pencils, new friends, and familiar faces. And Spanish class is no exception to the hustle and bustle of the beginning of the year!
So far in Spanish 1, students have selected Spanish names, learned the alphabet, and held small conversations with basic questions. We continue our learning journey with geography of the Spanish-speaking world, subject pronouns, and cognates. I am excited to begin discussing verbs and telling time.
Spanish 2 has gotten off to a running start, reviewing adjectives, verbs in the present tense, and describing likes and dislikes. These students already have a project and presentation under their belts, showing off their very impressive self-portraits earlier this week. Soon, we will start with one of our major grammatical themes for the year: the past tense.
Spanish 3/IB SL 1 students have been working dilligently on reviewing a slew of topics, from family vocabulary to present tense verbs to using gustar. We also have been working on reading and writing, and exploring the IB theme of identity by examining personal relationships.
The start of a new school year always comes with ups and downs, road bumps and great successes. Overall I am thrilled with how we've started, and am very excited to see the growth continue in my students (and myself) as the year goes on.