2 Classes, 1 Period

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Next year, due to a variety of circumstances (a nearby high school shutting its doors, students who were scared of all my changes this year who dropped and are now picking up again next year, general influx of people into the area due to gas & oil drilling), I’m going from 75 total students to 127 (as of right now…more may still be added). This is a huge change for me. We’re (re)adding a section of Spanish 1 for next year (we were able to cut one out this year in favor of Spanish 4), and my sections of Spanish 2 will be as full as they have been since I’ve taught here. In a perfect world, I would convince my district that they need to hire someone certified in Spanish and English to take on part of the load, but literally every department in the district is asking for more staff, so it seems unlikely that I would be successful.

What does that mean for me? Well, it means that while the principal could allow a class of 4 seniors in Spanish 4 this year, he simply can’t let me have a period with only 3 students next year. However, I was unwilling to set the precedent of not having Spanish 4 when there are students who want to take it. My students actually suggested that they share a period with Spanish 3 and I figured if they were up for it, then I wasn’t going to tell them no. My principal and guidance counselor had no issues with this, so that’s what we’ll be doing next year.

I have never done this before. Here are some of the thoughts I’m having right now:

  • I still want to read La ciudad de las bestias with my Spanish 4 students. There’s no way my incoming 3s will be ready to take this on. This year in Spanish 4, we read together on Thursdays and I definitely still want some class time to be spent on this. I don’t particularly like the idea of making every Thursday an individual workday for Spanish 3, but I don’t see how I can do two things at once. Maybe I could find a few books for Spanish 3 and do group reading on these days? That way I could circulate between the groups and make sure everyone is getting what they need to?
  • I definitely don’t want to teach Spanish 3 and 4 totally separate units next year. It simply makes the most sense to me to offer both classes the same units and differentiate expectations and activities. That way, my 3 Spanish 4 students can be involved in the class and perhaps even take on some leadership roles. However, they just went through my Spanish 3 curriculum. It’s going to see some changes this summer, but some of the units will probably still be pretty similar. I considered taking some of my Spanish 4 units from this year and adapting them for both classes next year (we did a pretty good study of Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution and a bullfighting/social issues unit that I definitely think could work). Maybe I could start a 2-year curriculum that could be rotated each year, if this sharing goes well and looks likely to continue.
    There are some things from this year that I am unwilling to lose. My immigration unit, for example, was my personal favorite to teach, and I definitely want next year’s 3s to experience it. But I’ll probably show the same movie next year that my future 4s already watched this year. Maybe that will become research project time? Investigate an issue or proposed change/solution to the problem of immigration in the US/Spain/etc. and describe it to the class? Or maybe I could come up with some other extension activities that will make it worth their time to watch it again? If nothing else, it’s good input.

On top of that, there are so many new things that I want to try out next year with my upper levels! Occasionally the jr/sr English teacher has the kids do impromptu 2-minute speeches. I think this would be a great exercise for my jrs and srs as well. When I was in Costa Rica, we had to plan an 8-15 minute speech once a week. I’d love to get my upper levels doing that, too! I’d probably start them at 2-3 minutes and work up from there, but the idea of saying, “Okay, on [Wednesdays] you need to have a short speech prepared. I’ll give you next week’s topic every [Thursday],” is attractive to me. I think it would be a good experience. Maybe I could just throw some impromptus in there every once in a while as a surprise – “Save this week’s topic for next week; today I’m giving you surprise topics!”?

So those are just some of the thoughts bouncing around my head right now. Have you ever tackled two classes in the same period before? What did you do? What made it easier? What should I definitely not do? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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