“Unidad Temática para un aprendizaje de por vida: La literatura Hispana como medio de expresión auto-biográfica y como reflexión escrita de la vida cotidiana.”
(Thematic unit for long-life learning: The Hispano-American Literature as a means of autobiographical written expression and reflection of daily life).
“The purpose of education is to allow each individual to come into full possession of his /her personal power.” John Dewey
Before I start to explain where this idea came from, it is necessary to show you how my situation was before this big ball of ideas hit me. I became like “Don Quijote de la Mancha”; I have read so many books and articles, that I almost became crazy. So, I decided to go back to the past, and I found out a connection among all of these killer ideas.
I used to work as a Spanish teacher of beginning and intermediate students at Lakeside High school where it is a requirement to learn a world language to receive their diploma. These high school students, who usually come to class yawning and worrying about Chemistry/ Biology, Math or any other stuff than the bored, disciplined, repetitive and structured Spanish class! So Awful!
Everyday, I faced the worst discipline problems with the Hispanic students who were “Smarties” in my class, just because they know how to pronounce and how to spell the basic words we were practicing. As I consider myself a very open-minded and resourceful teacher I assigned them extra work, and different tasks with a major grade of difficulty, because they already knew how to speak the language, and this was exactly my main objective with the American students. So, my classes were working better, ones challenged by the oral part in an active class (with structures and vocabulary not to be repeated but to be used) and the others challenged to read and write.
Suddenly, I noticed these kids did not know how to write certain words properly; their spelling is totally mixed with the English phonics. At this point, I thought we should have a class only for Hispanic students, my partner and I talked to the Chair Department who proposed the idea to the principal and other coordinators; they liked the idea but they needed to see 25 or more students enrolled for this class! We created many possibilities to invite our Hispanic students to come and join this class: a video, many oral announcements for a week, extra grade for those who invite their Hispanic friends to join the class, among others.
A week after of the “Political campaign, …I mean, after the advertisements”, 15 students signed up to the “Special Spanish Class” (as they called), and we continued advocating them to join us, because if we did not have more than 25 students we were not going to be able to teach this class and the Hispanic people would continue in regular Spanish classes. In other words, we would continue the nightmare, or in my case, my double work.
Finally, a few days passed; more announcements were made in the TV during the morning announcements, until we completed this group. Now,my thoughts kicked me out to my field of inquiries once more. How are we going to teach this kind of Spanish to people who already know how to speak the language? What is the best methodology we have to follow to teach them reading and writing skills? What is exactly the purpose of this class? Just teach them reading and writing or give speeches? Too many questions, too few answers.
A couple of days later, we knew there was another Spanish teacher near our school who has been running this program for a year. Good luck or bad luck? We could not meet her. Good luck: because she cannot guide the way I was supposed to teach so I will return more frequently to my inquiry field and research; Bad luck: because I could not observe a class, and take it as a study case based on that to develop a better curricular program, do her students accomplish the same characteristics of ours, because they have the peer group with the same social characteristics.
After all this experience, I better try to focus on what I consider to be more important to develop in my students. Lately, I have had meetings with the Hispanic Advisory Committee in Dekalb Technical College, the main inquiry last time was why our Hispanic students do not want to continue their studies, and instead they prefer to go to work? We analyze the matter from different points of view: from economical, political and social, because there were different representatives of our community: religious men, teachers, businessmen and doctors. What caught my attention is that they repeated what they needed was well-prepared Bilingual people, so they will find better job opportunities and businesses would pay part of their scholarship.
I have to consider my weaknesses and my strengths to accomplish goals I have proposed to myself, from the different reference points: As a subject matter expert, Facilitator of Learning and as a Collaborative Professional.
My main goals to accomplish according to the C.P.I., based on the National Board Professional Teaching Standards NBPTS, which are priorities in this process are: as a Facilitator, I need to be the person who encourages my students to reflect on their learning, and I have committed with such an important task, I also need to evaluate myself; what I have learned through my experiences, and my professionalization.
As a Collaborative professional, I need to participate actively in my educative community, being a leader, presenting projects and involving more families in the school process.
As a Subject Matter Expert, I need to possess a global understanding of cultural connections within and across the curriculum, it is very important to follow a new methodology with multiple strategies, which link different tasks related to other subjects, expanding the articulation.
My Objective then, is to prepare these Hispanic students with reading and writing tools and other skills to be a necessity in our community. Also, I want to encourage them to be reflective and responsible with their education and values; involving parents in this process.
I want to emphasize reading and writing skills in Spanish to native speakers, who came from different parts of Central and South America, through a thematic unit called: “Unidad Temática para un aprendizaje de por vida: La literatura Hispana como medio de expresión auto-biográfica y como reflexión de la vida cotidiana.” (Thematic unit for long-life learning: The Hispano-American Literature as a means of autobiographical expression and reflection of the daily life).
Now that you know WHAT I want, let’s pack and navigate my thoughts through this web page, where I will show you how to develop this program through modules to these type of students.
I divided this program in six modules: the First Module: Learning to know, the Second and third Module: Learning to do, the Fourth and Fifth Module: Learning to live together, the Sixth Module: Learning to live.
Each module has been created basically from these ingredients in my mixed mind: a report of International Adult Literacy Survey carried by UNESCO (Statistics Canada, 1998), Vygotsky’s ideas about the development of higher psychological processes (1978), Paris’ and Scott’s book (2003), about how to become a reflective student and teacher with portfolios and authentic assessment, a guide book to create the integrated curriculum (1995), and all the readings, ideas, reflections and opinions given along the classes during this summer (See Annotated bibliography).
At the end I envision a person with values, who knows how to listen, read, write, speak and understand processes properly, being critical and reflexive, facing any situation, this person should be able to inquire and develop a simple research.
First Module: Learning to know
It is based on COGNET, can be developed between one, two or three weeks, depending on how good the students’ understanding skills are to develop the purpose of this module. During the first week I will establish rules, parts of the class, identify types of intelligences. Make a big chart where everybody can see it: Everyday Sustained Silent Reading: Which is any book they want, Reading aloud, individually, and Conference groups,
They are formed according to the types of intelligences which is determined through a survey, based in Dr. COPE’s class discussion circles, I will divide the group into: “El Artista” (is the illustrator), “El analítico” (Is a person who is in charge of creating 3 problem-solving questions based on the reading), “el director de discusión” (the Discussion Director is in charge of making 3 questions and address the discussion using Tell me questions and addressing the discussion, “El Cientiifico” (he is the Connector, he is in charge of find the 3 connections with their real life, write a journal), “el deportista” (Passage master and act out a scene).
All of them gather into a group and discuss a reading assigned, get conclusions, and/or add notes in their portfolios, also each person will return a sheet with their assignment, they will change roles every day.
For the reading and written part in this module, first I will always model it to them, taking aloud what I am thinking when I read or write, model every action to be taken into account to their later process of their own creations. Following my proposal of the method:
First activities are guided using hands on activities, and others, which require guidance from the teacher, then guided but with certain freedom, there is an opportunity of exploratory time for texts, group work, they will be in the Conference Group, later on when they notice they are able to write and discuss different aspects there will be more freedom to do activities by themselves. I try to represent these steps in the following picture:
After the first week, students will start to answer Tell Me questions, and reading guided questions about literary elements based on English Studies Book, but this is the way HOWI am going to do it: I am thinking in just two weeks, where they are going to “know” (read this “Know” as getting knowledge and comprehension of a topic), so they will answer: What it is, how they do it, and what for. For this period of time, I plan ten-minute presentations about the following topics:
I chose all these topics BECAUSE these are the ones we are going to reflect about along this class, I need them to be clear about: “what”, “how” and “what for” the topic is useful to them.
I want them to start from the very beginning to be committed to their education, and according to the Brain Research Summary (Mangione, 2000), what we learn and remember for a long time is 92% of what we teach to others.
I choose to teach this literacy to increase their “ability to understand and use printed information and daily activities at home, at work, and in the community to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential” (Statistics Canada, 1998). This module: Learning to know looks to acquire enough knowledge of different styles so they can be applied later on in this process. Please see the first module in the calendar.
This first module also carries the responsibility of developing listening, speaking, reading, writing and understanding skills; these GOALS based on the Language Arts standards will show you my end results in this task.