Glendale Elementary School is a partial Spanish immersion school which means that part of the day is taught in Spanish. In our case, classroom teachers teach math and science in Spanish, from kindergarten to 4th grade. Spanish is also incorporated throughout the day in other ways: during morning meeting, directions in the hallways, stories, and small group reading time. When possible, our special area teachers incorporate Spanish language and Hispanic culture into their lessons. This is my sixth year teaching at Glendale in the library, or la biblioteca, as we call it, and knowing how to best support the immersion program has been an ongoing learning experience.
One way to support the program is with books, naturally. The challenge is choosing books that support the curriculum but that are not too difficult or that seem too young. Our students are not taught specifically to read in Spanish but they do get skilled at reading their math and science subjects. They also do not readily check out books in Spanish, and it has been an ongoing challenge to encourage them to check out and try to read some of the books. During the past 6 years, I have gradually weeded out books in Spanish that were just too difficult for our students to read and would not have been used in the classroom. For instance, while Judy Moody books or Captain Underpants are well-loved in English, in Spanish they are just too challenging. My current focus is on finding good nonfiction books about science and math that the teachers can use in their classroom lessons. I am also always on the lookout for books about Spanish-speaking countries that are current and appropriate.
The library is rich in Spanish language, from Spanish labels on shelves to the pledge of allegiance in Spanish, from greetings in Spanish to a chant we say together to begin a lesson. This year we started a school-wide Spanish version of “Give me 5” which the students repeat as they are getting ready to move in a line. I tweaked it to apply to being ready to sit in a lesson in the library.
Lessons in the library are similar to those taught at typical schools. While I teach most lessons in English, I do try to incorporate Spanish when I can, either with a book in Spanish or by reinforcing Spanish vocabulary. Hispanic Heritage month, September 15 - October 15, is a busy month in the library. I offer lessons on various Hispanic American authors and Hispanic culture. Throughout the year I work with several small groups to practice reading in Spanish.
We all know that working as a school librarian is one of the best jobs around! I love the added challenge at Glendale of developing ways to support the Spanish immersion program. Stop by for a visit some time!