It is the time of the year when teachers barely finished one year and are looking toward the next. One great thing about being a teacher is that I can reinvent myself every year.
After 28 years in the public schools, two things have become clear to me: students need motivation to learn and technology is here to stay. Unfortunately, my students in the East Tennessee area of the United States are far from intrinsically motivated to learn the Spanish language in my class. Many will never leave the state; most will never visit another country. Since we live in the twenty-first century however, I can bring the world to my students. So here is my plan for the 2015-2016 school year:
1. Enforce the target language use in my classes
I pledge to enforce the use of the Spanish language in my Spanish II and III/dual enrollment classes and will not let it slide as time goes by. My students and I will speak Spanish for 30 minutes at a time, followed by a 5-minute break every day of the school year unless we are working on a cross-curricular activity. I honestly believe the only way for anyone to learn a language is by face-to-face interaction with a speaker of the language. No one will ever convince me that he/she learned to speak fluent Spanish solely with an online program.
2. Engage the students
My students will be engaged using technology such as: Kahoot games, EDPuzzle videos, Nearpod, Edmodo, the Promethean Board, and various apps. I will show them how to use Aurasma, Adobe Voice, ThingLink, Green Screen by Do Ink, Socrative, bContext, Showbie, Duolingo, and Tellagami. My students will create and share small projects on a weekly basis that demonstrate their improved knowledge of the Spanish language. Moreover, I hope to learn about additional sites to explore at the 97th Annual AATSP Conference in Denver this summer.
3. Use students’ interests in music and movies
The students will listen to Hispanic music and watch movie clips in Spanish in my classroom. They will memorize song lyrics and be able to follow authentic movie clips. Such high interest lessons should motivate even the most reluctant students. Rather than using adapted materials, the focus will be on mostly authentic sources.
4. Take full advantage of global videoconferences
In addition, I will schedule monthly Skype talks with native Spanish speakers in various other countries and have my students participate in global videoconferences organized by Michael Cunningham’s World Class Schools initiative. My students will learn to express themselves clearly in Spanish and English to an international audience of listeners.
5. Reach across the curriculum
Furthermore, I plan to reach across the curriculum and use the Tennessee MICA (Measurement Incorporated Classroom Assessment) tool for math and English with my students in order to improve test-taking skills. In addition, my students will collaborate on projects across the curriculum. I will also have teams participate in several MOOT courts organized by Michael Cunningham. My students should realize that they are capable to compete with students across the country.
6. Teach students that they can make a difference
Finally, my students will join a fundraiser to help save the Rain Forest. As they learn about the Rain Forest in my classes, they will learn that their efforts to save it will make a difference globally. The goal will be to help students think about issues that affect people around the world rather than only in their own East Tennessee community.
As one can see there are many opportunities in the twenty-first century classroom for teachers to enlighten, enrich, and entice their students to be actively involved in the classroom. At this point my twenty-first century classroom is still a vision. However as the summer progresses I will put everything in place to make it a reality. The 2015-2016 school year should be one that my students will truly appreciate. They should leave my class telling me that this class made a difference in their lives, that they never thought learning a new language could be so much fun and such a valuable component of their high school education.