• Natasha Causton

    Español 1


    ¿Quién es Señora Causton?


    I am passionate about languages as a way of learning to communicate with people from all over the world. I was born in France and lived in Venezuela as a child so I learned my languages very young and missed not being able to use them here in Vermont, which is why I have become a World Language teacher! I feel that it is necessary for you all to have strong language skills in order to be able to participate fully in this small, interconnected world. I have taught in many other settings but I love working here and to share my experience with you all. I have a BA in Spanish from Middlebury College and an MA in International Education from Teachers’ College at Columbia University. I also live in this community and have 3 children (2 at MUHS) so you will probably see me on the soccer field or at the hockey rink!


    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about the class. You can get in touch with me by email at ncauston@acsdvt.org or by phone at 382-1278.



    • Please arrive on time and ready to work and engage with the teacher and fellow students in the target language.
    • Please treat everyone with kindness.



    Please have a Spanish binder with paper for the MANY handouts you will receive and use on a daily basis. Please make sure to keep your binders neat and organized at all times. Your binder will need 3 dividers for Handouts/Notes, Tests, Homework/Projects.  Students should access wordreference.com at home. I would also suggest you have note cards that you can use for flash cards.



    Language Acquisition assesses your proficiency based on the following criteria: 

    • Criterion A: Comprehending Spoken and Visual Text
    • Criterion B: Comprehending Written and Visual Text
    • Criterion C: Communicating in Response to Spoken, Written and Visual Text
    • Criterion D: Using Language in Spoken and Written Form


    The grading platform we use is ManageBac. 

    Formative assessments (quizzes, homework, classwork) fall into two categories:

    1. assessed using an MYP rubric -- these scores are reported and used to inform teacher professional judgement of the overall grade, though they do not determine the final grade

    2)   assessed for completion -- these tasks may be reported with a comment only (e.g. “incomplete,” “late,” “completed,” or  “missing”). I may assign a number grade so that students/parents understand how much grammar/vocabulary a student knows and understands, though this does not fall under any rubric and does not determine the final grade.

    Summative assessments (final projects, essays/compositions) are used to determine a student’s final grade. These are graded with IB rubrics. There will be a final exam which will serve two purposes: 1. the sections graded with IB rubrics will be a final summative evaluation; 2. the sections that are not graded using IB rubrics will be used as part of the rest of the final exam as a “placement exam” to continue Spanish study the following year.



    Language learning is a very cumulative endeavor. Each new skill builds on previous skills. It is in the best interest of the student to strive to stay current with the sequence of assignments. 


    All homework will have a due-date—assumed to be the next day unless otherwise stated. Since we often review homework as a class activity it is important to complete your homework each night. 

    Formative work will be accepted for feedback for up to 3 days  after the deadline (typically the deadline for formative work is the next day). If a student does not hand a formative assessment in it will be reported out as “M” for missing, and given a score of a 0. 


    Summative tasks such as unit tests (speaking, reading, listening, written) and dialogues, students 

    • have two weeks from the original date to complete out-of-class assessments. 
    • (if you miss the original day of an in-class assessment) have one week to complete the assessment. Until the assessment is made up, I will comment of “M” for missing in the gradebook and assign a zero. After the two-week time period, if the work has not been completed, the “M” and the score of a zero will be assigned permanently in the gradebook. The student should now focus on the current learning and demonstrating the current proficiencies.  



    Students who score a 3 or below on a given assessment may retake/redo assessments, but it must happen within a two week window from the time the original work is returned to students. I strongly urge students to do this within one week, so as not to be overwhelmed by the past work and the current work. Students will be given the opportunity to reassess a specific assessment once.  If students would like to re-assess, the student must do the following:

    1. complete all missing work from the unit
    2. identify and correct mistakes and/or missing concepts on the original assessment
    3. complete any related practice per the teacher’s request
    4. conference with the teacher, showing completion of missing work, corrections on the original assessment.


    Additionally, no late assignments will be accepted after the end of a marking period. 

    Habits of Work:

    The MUHS Habits of Work are a combination of skills identified by IB in the two Approaches to Learning (ATL) categories called Social Skills and Self-Management Skills, as well as other skills from our research. At the end of each quarter I will report out on habits of work.  This is a subjective score, based on weeks of interaction with the student and observations made by me.


    *For more information please see the MUHS Teaching and Learning Handbook 2019.



    If you know you are going to be missing class, you should get handouts and homework ahead of time. I also expect you can look on the class google docs page with the agenda and find out what you missed prior to the next class. 


    Academic Honesty

    I expect you to take responsibility for your own work. Cheating is a serious offense. This includes copying work, letting someone copy your work, talking about the content of an assessment before others have taken it, AND online translators (ie. Google Translate). You may NOT use translators to assist with the writing process. You MAY use bilingual dictionaries or online dictionaries (my preference is wordreference.com) to translate isolated words for use in writing, but text must be composed directly in Spanish by the individual. In Spanish 1, even these should not be used. If I suspect that a student is using a translator he/she will need to complete writing assignments in a supervised environment such as detention. If there is proof of a translator, the students will receive a 0 for the assignment.



    Students will have homework assignments that require them to have access to the internet. These include doing listening activities, conducting authentic research, following the news on Spanish speaking websites, or following a celebrity on twitter. If you do not have access to the internet, please brainstorm ways you/your student can still complete the assignments. The learning center at MUHS is open before and after school for student use. If access becomes a problem, please let me know right away.



    The use of video is a key element in our curriculum, as it is useful for practicing listening comprehension and exploring cultural themes. On occasion these videos may contain material that some parents and students may find objectionable. The teacher will endeavor to advise parents of upcoming movie titles and ratings so that they may inform themselves of content or preview them. Parents—if you have concerns in this regard please contact me.


    Cell Phone Use

    While cell phones are wonders of innovation and can be immensely helpful tools when used appropriately, they have also unfortunately proven to be a routine distraction from learning when abused. To protect our classroom learning environments and our students’ well-being, the Language Acquisition Department has adopted the following approach to cell phones: 


    Unless otherwise directed for the purposes of a specific lesson, or granted an exception due to extenuating circumstances, students will be required to silence and store their cell phones, rear-facing, in a phone organizer upon entering the classroom. There the phones will remain until the end of class, when students will retrieve them. A student who is found to be using a phone they retained, or who retrieves a stored phone during class without permission, will receive a warning and have the phone confiscated (and stored) for the duration of the class period. A student who refuses to turn over a phone upon the teacher’s request, or chronically requires warnings, will be given a disciplinary referral in accordance with the MUHS Student Handbook’s cell phone policy.


    To respect the privacy of students and teachers, recording  and photos are prohibited in the classroom.



    I am available for extra help during flex time. If I am unavailable, please see any of the Language B teachers during their flex times. You will be able to view available times via PowerSchool. All students are expected to sign up for flex time for every flex session. Other Language B teachers are: Ms. Bailey, Mr. Swinhart, Ms. Steele and Mr. Tufts. My schedule is as follows:

    A/Odd/Red Days(Mon/Thurs…)

    1 8:10-9:33 Español 2

    3 9:37-11:00 libre

    11:04-11:10 Advisory

    11:14-11:44 Lunch

    11:46-12: 16 Flex

    5 12:20-1:43 Francais 3 

    7 1:47-3:10 Réunion Colaborativa

    B/EvenGrey Days (Tues/Fri…)

    2 8:10-9:33 Español AP

    4 9:37-11:00 libre

    11:04-11:10 Advisory

    11:14-11:44 Flex

    11:46-12: 16 Lunch

    6 12:20-1:43 Español 1

    8 1:47-3:10 Español


    The only online dictionary we use here at the school:


    Handy grammar explanations and activities:




    Español para Principiantes~Nivel 1

    Programa de Estudios


    Unit 1 ~         Hola/Hello

      • Statement of Inquiry:   Even though all languages have different structures, they share the common purpose of connecting people and promoting interaction.


    • Inquiry Questions: 


      • Factual Question — How do you introduce yourself in Spanish in a variety of contexts? What are the cultural customs associated with introductions? Where in the world is Spanish spoken?
      • Conceptual Question —In which situations should one use the formal versus the informal register?
      • Debatable Question— Is language the only way to meaningfully connect with others around the world?
    • Content:  common cognates/ describing myself with high frequency personal words (yo/ soy/ names/adjectives); interacting with others with greetings/farewells/ numbers to 20/ nationalities;  forming  and answering simple questions (¿Quién eres? ¿Cómo te llamas? ¿Cómo estás? (muy bien, mal, triste, feliz, nervioso, frustrado, fatal) ¿Cuántos años tienes? ¿De dónde eres? ¿Te gusta…? ¿Qué te gusta? ¿Prefieres…? ¿Eres…? ¿Tienes familia?); ABC, pronunciation and spelling.
    • Summatives: Interpersonal: Have a simple conversation including, greetings with teacher. (criterion C). Write a short email/letter to a host family in our host country (Criterion D).


    Unit 2~  En la Escuela 

      • Statement of Inquiry: Our common school experiences throughout the world connect us.


    • Inquiry Questions: 


      • Factual— How do school buildings, school subjects and school schedules from around the world differ from my own? What do I need to go back to school, and how does that compare to back-to-school lists around the world? 
      • Conceptual—How can I relate to other students from around the world? What do I have in common with other students around the world?
      • Debatable—Is it important for all students around the world to have a common school experience?
    • Content:  school objects; class subjects and schedule; verbs: hay/tener/ser/ir/dar, numbers 20-100; differences in levels of grammatical formality in Spanish and Hispanic cultures; concept of grammatical gender; telling time, days of the week, months of the year, the date; ser with adjectives and pronouns; forming a simple negative; common question words and forming questions/ tú y Ud (levels of formality)/ spelling; noun – adjective agreement
    • Summatives: Describe a picture of a classroom with objects and students from around the world (Criterion D); Read/Listen to a back to school shopping list or video (Criterion B or C).


    Unit ~ 3           Nuestra vida activa/La ciclovía

      • Statement of Inquiry: Communicating our interests and hobbies allows us to share our identity, develop relationships with others, and build a sense of community.


    • Inquiry Questions: 


      • Factual—What do I do for fun? What does my community do for fun? What do I do in my free time? 
      • Conceptual—What do our leisure activities say about ourselves and our culture? How do activities build a sense of community?
      • Debatable—What activities would make my community more fun?
    • Thematic and Cultural Content and Vocabulary: how to talk about activities, sports and other pastimes, especially within context of ciclovia. 
    • Grammatical Structures: present tense of  all regular verbs; verb “gustar” and “jugar”; subject-verb agreement; use of transition words. 
    • Common Tasks:  Listening to a report about the ciclovia (Criterion A/B). Write a comparison between what a person does for leisure in the US vs. Latin America on a Sunday. (Criterion D)


    Unit ~ 4         La Familia

    • Statement of Inquiry: Values shape relationships between family members and communities.
    • Inquiry Questions: 
      • Factual—Who are the members of a family? Quienes forman nuestra familia?
      • Conceptual—How do we define family? How is the concept of family both personal and cultural?How do we maintain our family bond?Cómo se integran las familias en diferentes países?
      • Debatable—Existe únicamente un solo tipo de familia?
    • Content: words for family relationships including extended family relationships; more adjectives to describe people (physical and personality description); facial features & basic body parts; plural of nouns and verbs; review all forms of “ser”; personal “a”; more about grammatical gender and noun adjective agreement, possessive adjectives;  stem-changing verbs.
    • Summatives: Creatively describe a picture of a family from around the world, both in writing and in speaking (Criterion D & C). 


    Unit ~ 5        “Mi casa es su casa”

      • Statement of Inquiry: Our home and greater community orients us in time and space in the world.


    • Inquiry Questions: 


      • Factual—What do homes look like?
      • Conceptual—What is the difference between a house and a home and do these define me?  
      • Debatable—Is my home a reflection of my place (location and geography)?
    • Content:  house (rooms and basic furnishings) vocabulary; differences in the places people live (apartments vs. single family dwellings); “estar” and prepositions of place; contractions al and del; estar and emotions, linguistically appropriate use of “ser” and “estar”, ordinal numbers (1st), -go verbs and review stem-changing verbs; compound verbs.
    • Summatives: Describe (and draw) a floor plan of your ideal house and talk about it (present to the class) (Criterion C & D).


    Unit ~ 6         ¿Dónde vivo? El pueblo y la ciudad

      • Statement of Inquiry: The city is a place where human-made systems and communities connect. 


    • Inquiry Questions: 


      • Factual—What do homes look like?
      • Conceptual—What is the difference between a house and a home and do these define me?  
      • Debatable—Is my home a reflection of my place (location and geography)?
    • Content: town/city/country features and buildings; weather (idiomatic expression ‘hace’; verbs of weather ‘llover’ and ‘nevar’ and seasons); verb “ir” (to go)/ near future with ir + a; more prepositions (a la derecha/a la izquierda);  verb ‘tener’ and expressions (including que) with this verb; more interrogatives
    • Summatives: Reading about La ciudad de México with Q/A (Criterion B). Create your own ciclovia in Middlebury (Criterion D and C).


    Possible Movies: Valentin (family), La misma luna, Al otro lado (if not shown in level 2), Selena


    (Updated 8/24/19)