Last week I had the joy of visiting Pelion High School and witnessing one of those inspiring teacher moments that we all have every now and then. I hope she won't mind me sharing it with you all as it really encouraged me. A student in Victoria Connelly's German 2 class was giving a presentation in German to his classmates. They were required to take notes as he talked about himself, his family, his free-time and his likes and dislikes to show that they were listening and comprehending.
After the student sat down, Mrs. Connelly was encouraging the class to give him feedback on his work. One of the students raised her hand and said, "This might sound weird, but I didn't really feel like I was listening to German. I mean, everything he said was making sense to me and it just felt like I was listening to English." Obviously Mrs. Connelly was thrilled (as was I) and she explained to this student that what she was describing is exactly what we're striving for in our language study! To which the student replied in typical high school fashion, "Oh, so you're saying that I'm actually accomplishing something here?" YES! That's exactly what we're saying. Every one of us is actually accomplishing something here! Our students are becoming proficient in world languages because of the hard work you do each and every day. Thank you for your passion and commitment. Keep up the good work!
During one of my observational visits to Riverbluff, I was sitting in the office space talking with several teachers, when Sarah Buckliew, German teacher, bustled in with a giant yellow Jeep grill made out of bottle caps. Excitedly she told me that her German 3 students had done art projects using recycled materials. Of course I asked her to send me pictures and write about it for Voices in the Field, but she did one better...she asked the student to do the write up! I was thoroughly impressed with the thoughtfulness that went into each aspect of his project, as well as the connections he made to the German content, and I hope you will be too. And so I proudly present to you student author, Ashton Keiffer, RBHS.
The Kunst von nichts (art from nothing) project, required us to use trash or other things that we found that weren't being used and make art or reuse them for something else. I used a large piece of cardboard, spray paint, plastic Coca-Cola bottle caps, 2-liter and 6-oz bottles, and a couple of fruit containers to make a piece of art that resembled the grille of a Jeep CJ- 5, 7 and 8.
I decided to make a Jeep grille because I like Jeeps, always have and always will, and I already had everything I needed to make exactly what I wanted. All of the stuff I used for the project had been used for or during the rebuild of my Jeep TJ that my dad and I had spent 2 years working on. The cardboard was originally a shipping box for a Peterbilt semi-truck radiator that I had picked up from work and brought home to use as a ground cover while I was painting, or for laying on top of under the Jeep instead of laying on the hard concrete. The paint I used had been for painting parts or for marking parts in the salvage yard. And the bottle caps I collected were from the Cokes that I had drank while I was working on the Jeep because I had originally planned to make something out of them but I didn't know what yet. The 2-liter and 6-oz bottles and the fruit containers were in the recycling bin at my house after I had some friends over to help work on the TJ. I enjoyed doing the project because I got to do something that I had been wanting to do for a long time, I had the opportunity to make something from nothing, and I got to learn about the differences between Germany and the United States' recycling programs.
During the introduction to the project, my German class learned about how the recycling system in Germany is a lot more specific than in America because of different laws put in place by their government, and how their ways of recycling things has impacted the environment and economy. Then during the creation phase of our projects we weren't allowed to speak any English which helped us to learn the new vocabulary from the recycling unit and it helped us to recall older vocabulary that we don't use on a daily basis. Overall the entire class enjoyed the project because it brought a fun challenge with a unique twist since we couldn't speak any English, and because we got to see how drastically different a basic part of daily life is in Germany.
Let's think back to our Assessment checklist from last semester:
The art that they made was put on display in the art gallery (public audience). Making art is a real-world task, and so is recycling. Furthermore, students got to explore art and cultural content through the German language!
Great job Frau Buckliew! Thank you for inspiring your students to create art out of nothing.
Spanish teachers: In response to last week's post--here is another helpful link for celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: If you use Newsela with your classes, they have a text set organized around Hispanic Heritage Month. It is definitely worth checking out for those interpretive reading assignments.
Co-Author: Alison Coulter, WKHS
Hispanic Heritage Month started yesterday and ends October 15th. According to Time for Kids, "From mid-September through mid-October, America recognizes the contributions, culture, and heritage of Hispanic Americans. The month-long celebration begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico achieved independence on September 16 while Chile gained independence on September 18."
This post was inspired by and features the ideas of Alison Coulter, who teaches French and Spanish at WKHS, but I also wanted to include something for the early grades. So check out what Alison did with her students last semester, and keep reading to see how another blogger treated the same topic, but with elementary aged children.
Alison writes: Unit 3 of Spanish 4-5 is entitled 'History and Resulting Challenges'. This year I decided to create a 3-part unit. I began with the Spanish colonization of the Americas, North, Central and South America as well as the various Islands that were colonized. Students read excerpts from readings I chose from an advanced Spanish text Mundo 21. We discussed the contributions made to the areas they colonized such as art, farming and architecture as well as the conversion of the indigenous populations to Catholicism. I included geography by having students chart the routes of various explorers from Spain to their respective destinations. We also watched a Discovery education video in Spanish on Columbus’ voyages and discussed the abuses of the indigenous populations.
Next I taught about the Mexican Revolution and the taking of land, which led to poor treatment of the indigenous people and resulted in civil unrest. We watched a film “La Revolución Mexicana” and learned about key figures such as Pancho Villa, Zapata, Porfirio Diaz , Obregon and Madero. There are many songs written about the Revolution. The corrido is a patriotic ballad used for disseminating revolutionary themes. It was and still is a very popular style and I will include a mini writing piece on this next time as time did not allow this semester. https://laii.unm.edu/outreach/common/lesson-plans/mexican-revolution/music-of-the-revolution.pdf
To bring the unit full circle I taught about the Muralist Movement in Mexico after the revolution. This was, as it turned out an amazing way to show the students how artists communicated social and political awareness through painting. Students learned the importance of this means of communicating events of the revolution to the 95% of the indigenous population that did not speak Spanish. I took students on a virtual visit of the Palacio Nacional in Mexico where Diego Rivera painted very large murals depicting life in the revolution. Students completed the unit by choosing one of 3 muralists, Orozco, Rivera or Siqueiros and describing the work and giving its political and social importance.
Thank you Alison for sharing such a creatively comprehensive unit of study! While she didn't design it for Hispanic Heritage month, I thought it would be perfect to share in honor of the influence Mexico has had and continues to have in the United States.
Diego Rivera for Kids is a blog post that shows another creative way to teach kids about the influence of Rivera's murals in Mexico.
What are some ways you have found to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your students?
On one of my recent visits to LHS, I am greeted by long-time friend and colleague, Caroline Hayes, calling out "Es el día de alfabetización! It's literacy day!" Those of you who know me, know how excited I get about all things literacy. In fact, we're just finishing up the first Read to Succeed course specifically for World Language teachers, and it has been a fantastic experience!
I smile because Caroline's enthusiasm for Spanish is contagious, and her dedication to her students and her profession is exemplary. While she is not actually on my list to observe today, there is no way I can miss this. So, when I finish in one class, I stop by her room.
There I see a pile of books in Spanish, fiction and non-fiction of various levels. These are fun books, picture books, instructional books, not a textbook in sight. Students are being partnered up and are choosing which book they'd like to read together. I am curious to see how this will turn out as pair by pair, students select a book, bring a dictionary and some paper for note-taking, and head into the hallway to read.
There is a general air of excitement as this is a new activity for her Spanish 3 honors class. Ms. Hayes has been collecting books from many different sources (using personal funds--as teachers are prone to do!), and has no doubt been preparing students for this activity since school started. While I knew Caroline was planning to implement a time for students to read for pleasure and for knowledge in the L2, nothing could prepare me for the experience of seeing it in action.
Sitting in front of my laptop, getting my observation form ready and trying to take detailed notes about what I am seeing, I look up and notice that the classroom is almost empty. I step out of the room, and am met by the hallway of an American high school, FULL of students reading out loud to each other from Spanish books. Library books, children's books, ebooks, all sorts of books! In that very moment, my heart stopped and did the happiest of happy dances! That happy dance spread to my face--and I had to stop my body from joining in. But inside I was skipping, jumping, dancing and flying down the hallway! "Kids having fun with boooooooooooooks!!!!!!!!!!" I scream to myself. I want to shout from the rooftops, "This is incredible! Does anybody else see what is going on here!?"
Hmmm...as I go back to re-read what I've just written, I imagine I sound a little bit crazy. That's because I am. I am completely and unabashedly loca por libros/crazy for books! They are truly our transport into other worlds, and I will do anything I possibly can to support anyone who wants to open this world to our students in their first, second, third or fourth language!
Don't stop pushing your students to read. Whether it's the alphabet, a single word or phrase, sentences, paragraphs or entire books--push push push! I promise they will thank you for it--and you might one day see me skipping or dancing down the hall of your school!
Oh, how does the story end?
It doesn't. If you teach your children to read, the story will never end.
Contributor: Yuanqing Yin (WKMS)
This past February, WKMS Chinese teacher, Yuanqing Yin, took students to China Town in Atlanta, GA for the Chinese Lunar Calendar New Year, Spring Festival. They left WKMS at 7:00am and arrived home that night at 7:20. While they were there they visited a Tibetan Buddhist temple, a Chinese buffet, and went shopping in China Town. She says, "These are all of my Chinese students. I have 5 different classes and 3 different proficiency levels, students who went on the trip are from all of those classes and levels."
I asked Yuanqing to tell me a little about the trip, and she said,
"Students loved the trip! They were impressed with the trip and the culture.
Of course they always love the food!"
But one of the parents said it best when he wrote her this message afterwards,
"Thanks for the trip to the Temple. It is a highlight in the life of a Military man who had thought he’d seen it all. You’ve been a welcome partner. Come what may, I wish the absolute best for your program!
I’m excited that the success of the program will match the size of your heart to teach.
It was absolutely fantastic to travel this far with you."
Later in May, Yuanquing and her WL colleagues also hosted a Chinese Night in which they cooked real authentic Chinese food. You can see in the pictures that parents and students together sampled the linguistic and culinary flavors of China, right in their own backyard.
Yuanquing said this about the two events, "I could not have done the China Town field trip without my awesome Chinese colleagues in the district, and I could not have done the Chinese Night without Ms. Caroll and Mrs. Hagerty." Together we always achieve more!
What are some ways you have immersed your students in language and culture?
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World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)