This fall, teachers are facing an unprecedented instructional challenge. While plans for re-opening school are in a constant state of flux, we know that many teachers will be required to manage students in multiple instructional contexts: in-person, online, and combinations of the two.
Just as SOMOS has given thousands of teachers the confidence to step into a new way of teaching, so we are now pivoting to give you the tools you need to feel confident this fall. Our newest line of materials–which is being published in Spanish, French, and Latin–takes care of the planning for you so that you can focus on the most important thing: connecting with your students.
In this post, I will walk you through our new FLEX units for Spanish, French, and Latin, as well as other online learning options available from The Comprehensible Classroom.
What is a FLEX Unit?
Each FLEX unit provides seven days of lesson plans and materials for FOUR (4) synchronized learning strands:
- TRADITIONAL: for daily classroom instruction
- HYBRID: for instruction that alternates between synchronous classroom or remote instruction and asynchronous virtual assignments
- VIRTUAL: for fully asynchronous instruction
- PRINT ONLY: for students learning from home without Internet access
All learning strands are fully synchronized so that all students in the course will be working through the same material, at the same pace, regardless of the instructional strand that they have chosen.
What FLEX units are available?
We are pumping out Flex units as fast as we can, and we have an awesome team working together to make it happen. We are focused on adapting the beginning units for each level of the curriculum first, and then moving sequentially through the curriculum so that Flex plans are available for each unit by the time that you reach it in your year.
PUBLICATION SCHEDULE FOR SUMMER 2020:
by August 1:
- Spanish 1 Units 1, 2, 3
- French 1 Unit 1
- Latin 1 Unit 1
by August 15:
- Spanish 2 Units 1 & 2
- French 1 Unit 2
by September 1:
- Spanish 1 Units 4 & 5
- French 1 Units 3 & 4
- Latin 1 Unit 2
Get all the digital things!
Is your Fall purchasing deadline approaching? No problem – we have bundled ALL of our existing digital resources that correspond with Semester 1 units. This bundle will continue to grow as we add more digital resources for the Fall semester. Once you own the bundle, you get access to all added resources at no additional cost. It will include digital resources for:
- SOMOS 1 Units 1-11
- SOMOS 2 Units 1-6
- Fall celebrations (ex: Hispanic Heritage Month, Día de Muertos)
- General resources (Daily check-in, worksheet creators, etc.)
If Distance Learning continues into the spring, we will create a Semester 2 bundle with later units.
We will continue to create and publish Flex plans as the school year continues. For units that do not yet have Flex plans available, teachers can combine Original plans with Distance Learning Units that we published this Spring. Click here to view one of the Distance Learning units, and look at the product description to see more.
SOMOS ORIGINAL VS SOMOS FLEX
The SOMOS Flex units offer a simplified version of the lessons from the original SOMOS Curriculum. Because many teachers will now be juggling multiple strands of learners, including learners in virtual spaces, it is important to keep the content more consistent and predictable for both the teacher and the student. The original SOMOS and Nous sommes plans include a much wider variety of activities and go more in-depth with cultural exploration.
FEWER ACTIVITIES TO FIGURE OUT
As teachers work through the original SOMOS and Nous sommes lesson plans, they are trying out new, input-focused activities each week. Typically, activities are only repeated once or twice per marking period. This is great for engagement (as Carol Gaab always says, “The brain craves novelty!”), but it takes more time in planning for the teacher that is reading about how to implement each new activity, and it takes more class time in teaching students how to participate in the activity.
The FLEX plans are on a 2-unit on, 2 unit-off cycle, in which the same activities are used for 2 units in a row, then a different set of activities is repeated for the second pair of units. In the third pair of units, the activities cycle back to those used in the first two units. In this way, neither planning time nor class time is wasted.
The original SOMOS and Nous sommes units all follow a similar unit structure (Vocabulary Introduction » Story-based acquisition » Informational-based acquisition), but they vary greatly both in terms of unit length and in the kinds of ways that information is explored. Some units work with multiple songs, many kinds of authentic resources, and collaborative exploration, while others offer students just an introductory glance at the unit topic.
The Flex plans are very formulaic: each unit follows the same, 7-day pattern:
Predictable planning is critical for students that are learning from home. Without the immediate presence of a teacher to guide them through the plans for each day and to answer clarifying questions about what tasks should be completed and how, students need routine to thrive.
Likewise, predictable planning will allow you to survive the impossible task that you are being asked to undertake. You have no additional planning time, and yet your planning needs have just doubled or tripled, at least.
MAINTENANCE OF A HEALTHY CLASSROOM SPACE
Some of my favorite input-focused activities will no longer be possible when taking into account the need for social distancing and the inability to share materials. Activities like Write, Draw, Pass; Stations; Pencil Grab; Quiz Quiz Trade, and Running Dictation all must be left behind or be reimagined in order to maintain a safe and healthy classroom environment.
Our FLEX plans take all of this into account. We have included only activities that allow for social distancing and personal use of materials only, and we have provided instructions for modifying some of our old favorites. We are focused on planning for all of these things now so that you can take the summer rest that you so desperately need.
Which SOMOS plans should I use?
The decision about which SOMOS or Nous sommes plans to use will depend on whether you own both kinds of materials (Original and Flex) or are just now considering the purchase of your first materials.
Scenario 1: You own both Original and Flex
The Flex plans include a Traditional strand, which includes materials and plans for those students that are in class with you every day. If you already own the Original SOMOS or Nous sommes plans, you might find that you prefer to stick to the plans found in the Original materials, especially if you have already used them and are familiar with them.
You can follow the Original plans for daily classroom instruction
In order to minimize planning effort and maximize ease-of-use, the content in the Flex plans is reduced and simplified. For example, one thing that Spanish teachers will immediately notice is that Los pollitos dicen, which is a cherished start to Spanish 1 for SOMOS teachers, is not included in the Flex plans. This does not mean that you can’t teach this beloved song! Even if you are following the Flex plans, you can feel free to add any piece from the Original plans that you love. If you’d like, follow the Original plans for your students that are in-class every day, and use the Flex plans for your remote learners.
Use the new Flex content for differentiation
Even if ALL of your student return to full-time classroom instruction, the Flex plans will provide you with new content that will give you greater flexibility. Each Flex unit includes a Print Packet that features seven days of independent learning materials. There are SIX printable texts plus SIX processing activities in each Print Packet – which makes it perfect for you to use for sub plans, for students that miss class, for students that join your class late or that need additional support.
Each Flex unit also includes a Storybuilder presentation. Storybuilders are meant to parallel the process of Asking a Story. Instead of a teacher and students working collaboratively to co-create a story, an individual student uses a Storybuilder to create their own story by choosing between many pre-determined options that are embedded within a story. If you are familiar with Choose your Own Adventure® stories, the Storybuilder for each unit will feel similar in structure.
Teachers that do not yet feel confident in Storyasking might even opt to use the Storybuilder in class as an alternative to co-creating a story. You can project the Storybuilder presentation on your front board, and you can read through the text with students, working together to choose the path that you collectively want your character to follow.
Scenario 2: You don’t yet own Original or Flex plans
Many teachers that were already planning to purchase the Original SOMOS or Nous sommes plans for the fall are now wondering: which kind of materials should I get?
Before answering this question, it is important to note that schools should be funding your evolving curricular needs. Even though it is true that most school budgets are shrinking, it is unethical for them to expect you to take on more responsibility, a greater workload, learn new skills, and pay for curriculum that meets the needs of your new instructional reality. Advocate for yourself and for your students. The cost of all of our materials is incredibly small compared to the cost of hard copy textbooks and online textbook subscriptions. Even if you purchase ALL the digital materials that we offer and plan to offer, you are looking at a one-time purchase of less than $1000.00, which is less expensive than just 10 student textbooks.
Teachers that do not already own the SOMOS Curriculum may choose to purchase only the SOMOS Flex plans for the fall of 2020. The Flex plans are not dependent on the original plans in any way. If you have a limited budget and already know that you will be managing multiple strands of learners, start with SOMOS Flex.
Ideally, your administrator or school purchasing officer will support you in acquiring BOTH kinds of resources. Purchasing both the original SOMOS materials and the Flex plans will allow teachers to access the full depth of the curriculum with learners in the Traditional strand, while still providing the Flexibility needed through the Flex plans.
What do the Flex plans look like?
We realize that teachers are relying on web-based tools more than ever. The Flex plans are created and stored in Google Drive, and they are ready for integration with Learning Management Systems like Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas. They can also be easily converted to Microsoft programs for use in Microsoft Teams. With the Flex plans, the teacher has an unprecedented level of creative control over the content, as nearly every resource is fully editable in Google Slides.
Where does Garbanzo fit in?
When we launched Garbanzo last year, we did so with the intention of solving some common problems faced by teachers that desire to focus instruction on highly processable input. We could never have imagined just how BIG those problems would become as the school year progressed and moved to the digital realm.
The Garbanzo library includes more than 600 stories and informational texts, and so it is more than capable of being the thread of continuity that runs through everything you do in class. Last spring, many teachers used Garbanzo exclusively with their students to keep them moving forward on their paths to proficiency, even when not in the classroom. This fall, we will be adding audio–making Garbanzo a feasible, long-term option for individual language learning from beginning to end of the school year. We have a team of 5 Voice Artists, from different regions of the Spanish-speaking world, recording the audio for every lesson in our library. Once launched, your students will be able to listen to the texts as they read them on the screen.
Garbanzo works well as a supplement to instruction for learners in ANY of the strands. As long as students have access to a device and an Internet connection, they can use Garbanzo. Each Flex unit comes with a list of Garbanzo lessons that pair with the unit, although you must have an active subscription to Garbanzo to take advantage.
- Read a text in class, assign it as a Garbanzo lesson for follow-up
- Assign lessons in sequence through the Core paths to gradually build working vocabulary
- For differentiation and personalized learning, create smaller classes based on interest or proficiency level. Students can be enrolled in multiple classes at once!
Find Garbanzo lessons for any curriculum
For teachers that are not able to adopt SOMOS/a new curriculum at this time, Garbanzo provides the perfect way for you to enrich your students’ learning experience with acquisition-friendly materials that are an appropriate challenge for their level of proficiency.
Our newest round of updates, including an overhauled Teacher Dashboard, make it easy for you to assign multiple lessons to multiple classes at once–minimizing the time spent setting up each class for online learning and maximizing the time you spend away from your screen each day.
In the coming months, look for all 100 articles (in two levels of text complexity: Novice and Intermediate) from last year’s subscription to El mundo en tus manos to have migrated over to Garbanzo as interactive lessons. And speaking of El mundo en tus manos…
Digital news articles for the 2020-2021 school year
Last spring, we began publishing each issue of El mundo en tus manos in digital format: meaning, our slideshows were PearDeck-ready and all text processing activities were interactive documents.
In the 2020-2021 school year, we will continue to bring you important and interesting news stories, written for Novice and Intermediate learners, every two weeks. Nelly Hughes, who has been our proofreader, will be taking a larger role in the writing of the articles so that our team can continue to provide high-quality, flexible resources to meet the evolving needs of Spanish teachers and students this school year.
We are adapting along with you.
As plans evolve, come crashing down, and are rebuilt, the team here at The Comprehensible Classroom will be with you every step of the way. Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates about new products and availability of resources currently in development. We will also notify you when we run sales and send you practical tips and tools that you can use to make Comprehension-based teaching happen this year, no matter what your classroom looks like.
You’ve got this!!