Homework Made Fun and Engaging with The Help of Garbanzo

Image of adult helping a child writing notes on a paper.I teach Spanish 1 and 2 twice a week at Homeschool Plus, a Christian homeschool cooperative in Norfolk, VA. Both of these classes used SOMOS 1 and 2 to help students gain language skills, progress in class, and participate in the overall class.

In this school year, I used Garbanzo as a homework tool. This was for students who were absent, needed extra practice, or wanted to work ahead on the Core 150 path.

My students and I don't have class every day of the school week. As a result, Latin American holidays are often observed on weekends or on other days off from school. To enhance our classroom discussion or to do an in-class activity, Garbanzo allowed me to assign these holidays as homework before class. Particularly useful during the holiday season, when every Spanish-speaking country has its own traditions. During the holidays, I had the chance to answer questions, elaborate, and access a lot of resources. An example of this is assigning 11 hombres latinos impactantes during Hispanic Heritage month alongside 9 mujeres latinas impactantes as well. This gave our class-specific individuals something to refer to as a warm-up activity throughout the month. 

Students in Spanish 1 completed Core 150 assignments regularly, in addition to specific unit lessons if they were absent. Students were encouraged to work ahead of schedule if they choose, and to follow the homework assignments if they chose to do so. Students were detailed explanations of all Core 150 assignments at the beginning of the year. Students were able to monitor their homework independently using a single website. 

Garbanzo's search and filter options allow me to narrow down what students missed in class based on the unit, level, or topic. Additionally, Spanish 2 students received appropriate level instruction with a story model they were already used to in our classroom. Because Garbanzo mirrors my classroom instructions with thoughtful design of the stories and content, my students received consistent input throughout the year. Also, Garbanzo allows students to be assigned individual assignments rather than classroom assignments. The feature made it possible for me to give credit to that student for classwork that matched what we discussed in class. Garbanzo was the single most important tool I used this year to help foster student independence in homework and lesson assignments and was easy to use and implement. 

What makes me love Garbanzo

The fact that Garbanzo integrates seamlessly with SOMOS makes it a great classroom resource. Our class stories are also available in the Garbanzo Biblioteca, so no student has ever missed a variation of what was shared in class. Since we don't follow a standard schedule in our class, this is critical to its success. Students of all abilities can receive quality instruction by assigning independent work that can be done at home rather than through the use of a costly and heavy textbook. Making sure students learn about relevant people and holidays is also a key step in creating lasting bonds with them. These bonds will last well beyond their time in my classroom. Last but not least, students were discouraged from taking shortcuts by being unable to copy and paste stories into an online translator or language plug-in. Despite this, student feedback was in general extremely positive, as context-based learning is more enjoyable and effective. 

My students' take on Garbanzo

During the school year, my students are typically textbook weight-lifters. When I tell everyone that we won't have textbooks, there is a collective sigh of relief. Handing someone an interactive notebook to fill out with them sets the year off on the right foot and makes them have a positive attitude toward learning. Before assigning homework in Garbanzo, I typically conduct a few lessons with my students to facilitate familiarity and ease of use. My favorite first day of school lesson is Los Pollitos, followed closely by our holiday lessons. After the school year begins, those who wish to finish their homework ahead of time can do so while others can work at their own pace. Every subject has a similar finish line at the end of the year. With Garbanzo, I am a more confident teacher because I am able to see the progress, results, and overall enjoyment of the lessons in my students.

Edith Lizalde is a native Spanish speaker, and sharing her language and culture with students is her passion. She is a U.S. Navy Veteran with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Maryland and a current Master of Communications student at Liberty University. She has tutored Spanish and Writing students for five years while homeschooling her children.