Spanish 1 Curriculum: Development

To develop my Spanish I Curriculum Map, I chose the novels that I wanted my students to read by the end of Spanish 1B (their second year of Spanish) and made a list of the vocabulary that they would need to read it. I ‘sequenced’ it based on importance and which words grouped well together for storytelling and cultural exploration. If you are interested in learning how I develop my cultural units so that you can duplicate the process and develop units of your own, please contact me to schedule a workshop. I have presented on the process at several local, state, and national conferences.

Along with the storytelling units (almost all of which include a cultural study), I have added suggestions for thematic vocabulary, grammatical concepts, and other resources that fit well with that unit in case you are someone that is tied to the textbook or are looking for ways to fill out the unit. I did not use all of the explicit grammar notes that are linked, nor did I intentionally address thematic vocabulary beyond what came up naturally in our class discussions for each unit.

If you teach with novels, as I recommend, it will take you more than one year to cover this curriculum. I developed the units before the novel Brandon Brown quiere un perro was published, and I would absolutely recommend using it as the first novel that your students read in Spanish. Another novel that I never had the opportunity to teach (because I did not have a class set) is Agentes secretos y el Mural de Picasso by Mira Canion. This is another novel that I would recommend teaching within students’ first year of Spanish.

24 thoughts on “Spanish 1 Curriculum: Development

    • Martina Bex says:

      They CAN be, but rarely are because teachers add in other units (holidays, etc.) and teach novels. You don’t need to get through all units before moving on to the Spanish II curriculum, and you can certainly begin Spanish II with the remaining Spanish 1 units.


    Martina, where would you recommend starting with a group of intro to Spanish students that meet only 3 days per week? Is there other curriculum that you recommend or would you start here as well? Also, how about Spanish ! kids who have NEVER had any Spanish at all? Where do you start with them? Would you start here as well, or implement something learning the alphabet etc?

  2. Casey P says:

    Hello: Just wondering if you had any advice given my current situation. I teach 5th-8th grade Spanish and the goal is to have students walk into Spanish 2 in high school. 5th grade receives 2 classes per week (45min) and 6-8th receive 3 classes per week (45min). How could your curriculum fit my needs? Thanks!

    • Martina Bex says:

      I don’t think that my curriculum is the best fit for classes that meet so infrequently. Because of all the added culture, units take a long time to get through and I think in your situation it would be better to move faster through stories to get through more structures. You could use the stories from my units (they are all free and linked on this page); just don’t invest in the units.

      • Casey P says:

        I hate to hear that, but I appreciate your honesty! I am trying to move my classes to proficiency based, using TPRS, and I am really having a tough time figuring out how to assess properly. Trying to piece things together is frustrating. If you have any other recommendations, I am very open to hearing them. Thank you!


    Hi! Did you say they were bookmarked here? I can’t find those? I’m having the same issues with my classes. Currently we are using a mix of your curriculum and novels to teach but I want them to get MORE MORE MORE!!! I really do! And I feel like they don’t sometimes… especially at this time of the year lol!


    Sorry I was referring to your comment above “You could use the stories from my units (they are all free and linked on this page); just don’t invest in the units.” When you were writing to Casey.

  5. Carissa says:

    Which novels were you developing these SOMOS units for and at what point did you insert them? I see your map and plan to follow it as my curriculum next year (Dept. of 1, small school, first time for CI!), but also want to pause for novels at appropriate times and as each proficiency level allows. I realize even more novels are available since you wrote this – so I’m curious what your recommendation is. Thanks in advance!

    • Martina Bex says:

      At the time, from Agentes secretos y el mural de Picasso for Spanish 1 and El Nuevo Houdini for Spanish 2. After I started the curriculum, even easier novels came out (quiere un perro, dice la verdad, etc.), and they fit in easily to the curriculum.

  6. Carissa says:

    I think I’ll just add another newbie question here because I often see experienced CI teachers say they don’t teach using thematic UNITS (textbook)/specific vocab,etc. You write here about backwards planning and mapping out your “units” based on the novels you wanted to successfully read. To me that gives purpose to your scripts, allows for a circumspect plan to cover a variety of culture, as well as a survey of a variety of practical structures/vocab. I don’t see anything wrong with that! Am I misinterpreting the anti-thematic-unit statements? I’m not criticizing anyone– just trying to keep it all in perspective. Aren’t those who are textbook-less and spending most of their time story asking and reading novels still aiming to cover a certain amount of common target structures? Thanks again!!

    • Martina Bex says:

      Some teachers do and some teachers don’t. How’s that for an answer?! Many teachers prefer a non-targeted curriculum, in which they have no particular goals or set structures. They just talk about interesting things as they come up, knowing that high frequency structures will naturally come up with high frequency and be acquired early on. I need more structure for planning and so I line out units based on high frequency structures. The end product is the same; it’s just whatever works best for your situation and your teacher personality.

  7. kelleylaugh says:

    I feel a little more comfortable with backward planning, with a novel in mind. I teach mainly 9th & 10th graders; do you think “Brandon Brown quiere un perro” is age appropriate? Or do you have others to recommend?

    Any suggestions for teaching CI Spanish 3?

    Thanks in advance!!!

    • Martina Bex says:

      Yes; even though it was written with an elementary audience in mind, both my middle and high school students have thoroughly enjoyed it!! I would recommend joining the Fluency Matters Novels group on Facebook to ask for suggestions from other teachers that have used it with that age group to see what they did (if anything) to level-up the age 🙂 For Spanish 3…check out Carrie Toth or Kristy Placido’s blog! Or Cindy Hitz!

  8. Kelly Dunsmore says:

    I hope you’re doing well. I’m looking into investing in your curriculum next year for my 8th graders. They meet three times a week for forty minutes. Any suggestions about how to implement your curriculum with that time period or how to modify it? Thank you so much!

    • Martina Bex says:

      I would suggest limiting the activities that you do in each unit. There are core activities that are very input focused, and each unit contains some cultural activities with #authres and/or to build confidence with output. With limited time, I would cut those activities and just stick to the most input-rich ones!

  9. senorahamilton says:

    Hello! I just asked another question regarding if Google Classroom worked well enough as a password protected site.

    My other question is (and I know I read it somewhere last month!–so sorry!) how do we know what cultural units are extra publications and which are parts of the bundles? I would really like the Day of the Dead source, but is it part of a bundle as well?


    • Martina Bex says:

      None of the holiday units are part of the bundles. You can look at the curriculum map and see that all units marked with a double asterisk ** are included in bundles. Anything else must be purchased separately.

      • senorahamilton says:


        My department is going to buy the units for at least Spanish 1. So excited! 🙂

        We can use paper copies for just our rooms if necessary, but were wondering if Google Classroom is an acceptable way to disperse materials? It can only be used by our domain members. But, we also want to be respectful of your intellectual work!

        Thanks again!

        Victoria and Patti

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