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5 language class ideas for kids on quarantine

August 17, 2021

More and more teachers are heading back to school each week. While many things are "back to normal", many things aren't. In addition to the typical needs of a school year, the pandemic continues to create problems that need to be solved.

One of the big challenges that I am already hearing about the 2021-2022 school year is what to do about kids that are on quarantine. What I'm hearing is that most schools have not provided an option for virtual learning, but that kids who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have had a direct contact with someone who has tested positive may be required to quarantine (possibly based on vaccination status), and teachers are required to provide materials for kids on quarantine.

Um, yikes! It is so not easy to come up with 10 days of resources in a pinch! So, here are five low-prep ideas that you can pull from to face this challenge of quarantine lesson plans this year.

Idea 1: Emergency closure plans

When school first shut down in March of 2020, I shared a set of free resources that could be printed and fill two weeks of instruction. The plans are still available here, and they are a simple way for you to provide any of your students that are quarantining with material that is relevant to your course and its goals.

In addition to the original resources (a choice board and many texts), I worked with Nelly Hughes to pull and polish 10 stories that have been submitted to Revista Literal over the last year. While we have not been publishing stories on Revista Literal due to the fact that we are completely stretched thin on our time demands, students can continue to submit stories, and we will publish them as we are able. You can download a printable version of the 10 stories in Spanish here, or you can wait for me to publish them as individual posts on the Revista Literal website over the coming weeks.

Idea 2: Flex packets

Last year, we published 40 Flex units for Spanish, 3 Flex units for Latin, and 5 Flex units for French. Each of these Flex units comes with a 14+ page packet of materials with a daily schedule for 6-8 days. The materials include five or more texts, plus materials for establishing meaning for vocabulary in the texts as well as comprehension and processing activities for each text.

If you are using the Somos* Curriculum, all you need to do for your quarantine kids is print out the packet for the unit that you are currently working through. (Note: the packet comes with Somos Flex, not Somos original. Click here to learn the difference between the two versions of the curriculum.)

If you are not using the Somos* Curriculum, the Flex Print Packets will still be useful to you. If you are in the first week of Spanish, French, or Latin, give your students the print packet from the first unit of the Level 1 curriculum. These materials are intended for students that have had NO prior language instruction! If you are teaching a Level 2 or 3 course, browse the Flex Curriculum Map with an eye on the Core Vocabulary for each unit. Each unit assumes that students can interpret the Core Vocabulary from all prior units with reasonable ease. Read through the list of Core Vocabulary until you find a unit that has vocabulary that is an appropriate challenge for your students, get the Flex version of that unit, and send the packet home with your students! Keep in mind that "too easy" is not a bad thing in this situation– instead of trying to find something that will "stretch" your students, look for materials that they will be able to read with ease.

Each unit also comes with a full sequence of lesson plans for asynchronous virtual learners. If you would prefer for your quarantine kids to be completing activities digitally and submitting to you via your school's learning management system, no problem! Use the asynchronous plans for each unit instead of the print packet.

Idea 3: Garbanzo

Garbanzo is an online library of interactive lessons in Spanish. We now have more than 1000 lessons!! Each lesson is a story or informational text written for language learners with the intent that they will be able to understand it. The text is broken up into processable chunks, and questions are embedded strategically to help students better understand the text.

Garbanzo is available through an annual teacher subscription. Once you create your account, all of your students can join Garbanzo through you, FREE! The standard Garbanzo subscription gives you full access to the Garbanzo lesson library of 1000 texts and to your students' grade book so that you can monitor what lessons they have and haven't completed, and what questions are tripping them up. Your students can also listen to audio versions of all of the lessons in the Core15 path, which is our path that contains the most simple texts on our platform. Furthermore, Standard subscribers have the ability to assign the Core15 path in a single click and add a limited number of lessons to the 'free choice reading' Biblioteca for each class.

Looking for more? Last month, we launched the Premium Subscription for Garbanzo. The Premium subscription provides full audio for ALL Garbanzo lessons, and ANY learning path can be assigned to students with a single click. There are no restrictions to the Biblioteca for Premium subscribers, which means you can fill it up with as many lessons as you'd like and let students choose what, when, and how many times to read any lesson that you've given them access to.

What does all of this mean for quarantine kids?

Once your students are set up with Garbanzo accounts (which are free once you have subscribed), you can assign them lessons to complete from home. While our lessons vary in length, a good general rule of thumb is to have students complete two lessons per day. Assign lessons from the paths with lower numbers (Core15, Core25, Core35, etc.) to beginning students, and assign lessons from paths with higher numbers (Core70, Core 120, etc.) to more advanced students. If you are a Premium Subscriber, use the Path Assignment feature to send your students a full set of lessons that they need to complete while on quarantine with a single click! The application will send them a new lesson each time that they complete on until they reach the end of the path. Even Standard subscribers can take advantage of the Path Assignment feature for the Core15 path!

Idea 4: Cuéntame podcast

Marta Yedinak is a Spanish teacher in Wisconsin who started an amazing podcast earlier this year! Her podcast, Cuéntame, is free and available to listen on many different platforms. As of the publication of this post, there are 36 episodes for students to listen to!

Each day during quarantine, have your students choose a podcast episode to listen to. Give them a simple listening task to complete along with it. Here are some ideas:

  • Listen and Draw: Listen and DRAW what they hear. Send you a photo of their drawing, or collect them all and submit when they return!
  • Textivities: Send home a packet of worksheets from this textivities bundle and have them choose one to complete while listening to the podcast each day.
  • Cornell Notes: Kinda old school and formal, but it's a simple and easy way to take notes in an organized manner. Have your kids take notes on the podcast episodes they listen to!

El mundo en tus manos 2021-2022 subscription cover

Idea 5: El mundo en tus manos

The first issue of the 2021-2022 edition of El mundo en tus manos will be published on Friday (8/20/21), and each issue will provide you with all the things you need for quarantine assignments.

Maris Hawkins, Nelly Hughes, and I identify and summarize five new stories for each issue. We prepare three different versions of each news story– a super simple summary intended for Level 1, semester 2+ students; a version for students in Level 2/3 that features glossed vocabulary (footnotes), and a more detailed version without glossing for Level 4/5/AP students.

Not only do we include a comprehension activity for each article, but we also pull together authentic resources that you can use to investigate further with your students, activities to complete and learn more together, and a PearDeck-ready slideshow version of the text so that you can easily read it together with them in class if you so choose.

Need more than one new issue every two weeks?

No problem! You can grab our archived subscriptions for a super reduced price, and there are tons of free past issues. Browse them all here!

We are here to support you.

No matter what challenges this year brings, know that we are here to support you. As obstacles fall into your path, reach out to us. We cannot pretend to know that we know what you are going through or how hard it really is to do what you have had to do for these last two school years... and now again. What we can do is help you keep your head above water. We continue to delegate time and resources in our work week to creating free materials so that everyone can find something to help, even without the help of department funds.

We won't be able to help in all the things, but we will be able to help in some things. Here's hoping that these quarantine ideas and free resources will help you this fall!

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