5 Writing Projects for Spanish Class to Get Students’ Brain Juice Flowing
Remember doing group projects in your days as a student?
Maybe you’ll remember the overachiever kid, who tried to do everything alone, and the “dead weight” kid, who didn’t contribute at all.
We can all recall dedicating huge blocks of time to projects.
There were the homemade volcanoes for science class, numerous art projects and possibly some potato clocks.
Some students love projects and others hate them more than Wile E. Coyote hates the Roadrunner (meep, meep!).
Regardless of their personal preferences, projects provide an involved way for students to increase their expertise on a particular aspect of a subject.
As a Spanish teacher, you should strive to make Spanish projects as enriching and fun as possible for your students. There are countless ideas and topics for creative and engaging Spanish projects. Below are just a few ideas for you to incorporate into the Spanish class.
5 Writing Projects for Spanish Class to Get Students’ Brain Juice Flowing
1. Hold A Class-wide Spanish Party
Woo! Party time! Get out those streamers and let loose!
Nothing perks up students’ ears more than the announcement of an upcoming party. Your students will, hopefully, be so enthusiastic about the idea of breaking free from the monotony of their daily routine that they may not even realize how much they’re learning in preparation for the fiesta.
To prepare for the cultural celebration on the day of your choosing, have each student research the cuisine and culture of a certain Spanish-speaking country. You can assign multiple students to one country and make it a group project or have each individual student study one place.
After completing their research, ask your students to choose the dish they think is the most scrumptious from the place that they studied. Then, have them make it at home and bring it to share on the day of the Spanish party. Then you can have a huge, international feast.
Of course, it’s important to check with your students to see if any of them have food allergies. The students bringing in food should be sure to write a list of ingredients so students with allergies can steer clear of what they can’t eat. You can ask your students to write the ingredients in both Spanish and English, an add-on to the project that can amp up their vocabulary.
Also have them write a paper or make a PowerPoint presentation about what they learned about the culture. While the students are savoring the dishes of their classmates, they can take turns presenting what they learned about the culture they studied in front of the class.
2. Write Spanish Blogs
I have one. You probably have one. You’re reading one right now. Many of your students probably have one.
Blogs on the internet today focus on everything from fashion to cooking to a string of personal thoughts. That’s the beauty of blogging — people can customize their blog to any topic that interests them. A fun and engaging project for Spanish students is having them start a Spanish-language blog and make a post every week or every couple of weeks during the semester.
This not only will keep their writing skills sharp but will also provide a way for you to monitor their progress throughout the semester or year (or any given time period). To ensure this project captivates the interest of your students, let them write about any topic they want as long as they’re writing in Spanish.
If one of your students is crazy about fashion, suggest that he or she write about it in their blog. If you have movie buffs in class, encourage them to write movie reviews in Spanish. You get the point. To get your students to practice your most recent lessons, ask them to utilize each new verb tense or grammar point in at least one or two sentences in their weekly posts.
Trying to navigate a blogging site in Spanish could be tricky depending on the level of Spanish of your students. Therefore, to simplify the project, allow them to use sites like blogger.com or WordPress.com, but to write their blog content in Spanish.
At the end of their blogging, have your students write a paper comparing their first post with their last. You can also encourage them to keep up the blog since writing frequently in Spanish is one of the best ways to practice.
3. Write a Spanish Book Report
Book stores are going out of business left and right thanks to the new technologically advanced cousins of books popping up on the scene. However, it doesn’t make reading any less important and doesn’t mean books should be excluded from the Spanish class.
Whether it be on a Kindle, iPad or other tablet, reading in Spanish is one of the best ways to learn the language and a great way to improve vocabulary. For yet another project idea, have your students read a book appropriate to their level of Spanish and write a summary to share with the class. Also have them write a longer summary for you to read and grade.
Another challenging option that’ll improve your students’ translation skills is to ask them to convert a passage from their book from Spanish to English. Also, if they do opt for a book that they’ve already read like “Harry Potter,” ask them to look for any poor translations or phrases that are different between the book in Spanish and English.
Try to make it fun by suggesting that they read a book they’ve already read in English. A good example is “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games.” When students read a book in a different language and they already know the story, this enables greater comprehension. While presenting their projects to the rest of the class, ask your students to read their favorite passage out loud.
4. Make a Spanish Art Project
Picasso. El Greco. Frieda Kahlo. History is full of painters from Spanish speaking countries, and it’s worth teaching your students about their world-famous work.
Ask your students to study an artist from a Spanish speaking culture and make a poster or collage of their works with a paper about his or her life. When presenting their projects to the rest of the class, ask your students to read a brief summary about the painter they chose. To ensure that your students pay attention to their classmates’ presentations, have them write a brief reflection once everyone has presented comparing and contrasting the styles of artists from different parts of the world.
5. Write About the Government of Spanish-Speaking Country
Which Spanish-speaking countries are under dictatorships? Which ones have democracies? Which ones have presidents and how long are their terms? Do any Spanish-speaking countries still have royal families in positions of power? Do any have parliaments? Which ones?
Ask these questions to your students and you may be greeted with shrugs or a sea of blank faces.
I’ve found that teachers don’t often discuss the different governments of Spanish speaking countries, so it’s still something many students don’t know. A project is a great way to learn. Whether in groups or individually, have your students make a poster or PowerPoint about the governments in place in different Spanish speaking countries.
This topic may sound a bit droll to your students, but try to remind them that understanding other governments is extremely important. Also, they may discover some tidbit of information that they find truly fascinating. This project is best suited for older students, as younger children may find the topic too complex.
Alterations for Different Age Groups
Most projects can be altered depending on the age and Spanish level of your students. For example, for the book report idea, beginner students may be asked to read short picture books whereas advanced learners can take on more challenging novels. For extremely young readers just starting to learn Spanish, you can read books to them and ask them to write down the words they recognize.
And if your students moan and groan about not wanting to do a project, just remind them of the oh-so-true cliché that practice makes perfect, and projects are practice. Or, just tell them that you’re the teacher and that means you’re in charge. That tends to work, too.