How do I select authentic resources for my language classroom?

My previous post addressed the ways you can search for authentic resources for use in your language classroom.  Now, let’s explore criteria by which you might select the resources that are the best fit for your learners, your learning targets and your lesson plans.

One model I can offer is the four “A’s”.  Those four overarching themes for choosing authentic resources include:

  • Authentic
  • Accessible
  • Appealing
  • Aligned

Authentic:  Authentic resources are prepared by and for the target language users, not for language learners and are created solely for the use of target language speakers for pleasure or information.

Accessible: Authentic resources should be appropriate to the students’ age and proficiency level and at an appropriate level of rigor or challenge.  They should be rich in visual support, cognates, and known words and should be linked to students’ background knowledge.

Appealing:  Authentic resources should be connected to real life, be interesting to students, and grab their attention.  They may be novel, humorous, and tech-based.

Aligned: Authentic resources should be matched to learning targets, offer opportunities for students to practice interpretive skills, and can act as springboards for interpersonal and presentational tasks.  They are sources of comprehensible input and are examples of vocabulary, language structures, and culture in context.

 

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You can download a PDF of the document above by clicking here.

How do I find authentic resources for my language classroom?

One of the challenges to implementing authentic resources into instruction for teachers is the time it takes to find them.  Using a generic Google Search can be arduous and time-consuming.

Using a Google Search in the target language will render the best results.  Some examples include:

Spain: https://www.google.es

France: https://www.google.fr

Germany: https://www.google.de

Italy: https://www.google.it

China: https://www.google.com.hk

Another tip for finding authentic resources is to search the topic or theme you are teaching followed by the type of resource you are looking for in the target language.  For example, if you are searching for infographics for your German students on the topic of vacations, you would search “Urlaub infografik.”

Here are the results I received in that search:

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In addition, searches can be done on You Tube using the topic/theme in the target language.  For example, if you are looking for videos for the theme of “Back to School” in Spanish, enter “regreso a clases” into the search bar in YouTube.  Here are the results I received:

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“Work smarter, not harder” is an adage that most educators aspire to because time is always a challenge.  In my experience, I have come to realize that language educators are part of a community that regularly practices “professional generosity.”  Sharing and collaboration are valued in our profession.   Many of our colleagues have posted the authentic resources they have gathered online through applications and websites that are public, the most popular of which is Pinterest.

First, if you are not a member of Pinterest and are interested in using it to find resources,  I encourage you to become a member (at no cost).

Once you are on Pinterest, search for a topic or theme in the target language.  Often you will find a whole Pinterest board that someone has put together on the topic or theme which contains multiple types of authentic resources.  If I want to find authentic resources for one of the AP Global Themes for my French class, for example, I search in Pinterest for “Défis Mondiaux.” (Global Challenges).  Here are the results of that search:

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Once you have used Pinterest several times, you may find a “Pinner” that you want to “follow.”  Following a Pinner means that you will regularly have access to his/her boards on Pinterest.  For example, a great Pinner to follow on Pinterest if you are a novice level Spanish teacher is my good friend and colleague, Señora Sherrow:

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Finally, I invite you to follow me on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/grahnforlang/

I have created boards on general topics relating to language teaching (Resources for Elementary World Language, World Language Advocacy, World Language Pedagogy, Centers, etc.).  I have also created Pinterest boards for authentic resources, either organized by text type (memes, infographics, commercials) or by theme.

Some of the themes include:  Ecotourism, Back To School, Bullying, Tiny HousesImmigration, Pets, Homelessness, Poverty and Hunger, and Natural Disasters.

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For more links to authentic resources, you can go to: https://wlrecipe4rigor.wikispaces.com/Authentic+Resources

Using authentic resources in the language classroom

ACTFL includes in the Guiding Principles of Language Learning six core practices.  One of the core practices is “Guiding Learners Through Interpreting Authentic Resources.”

When we talk about the value of authentic resources in world language instruction, several questions arise:

What are authentic resources?

How do I find them?

How do I select them?

How do I store them?

How do I incorporate them into my teaching?

Over the next few blog posts, I will attempt to address each one of these questions separately.

  1. What are authentic resources?

Authentic resources are created by and for the target language users either for information or entertainment.

Authentic resources include:

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in addition to: fine art, photographs, charts, maps, schedules, etc.  Since the advent of the Common Core, the idea of “text” has been expanded to include anything students view, listen to, or read.

Some examples:

Meme:

    69833b55c0e823253da091dc54a83cdb.jpg

Poem:                                                   Chart/schedule:

503576f7d7e8fe0f29ec81947ed21503.jpg      d9fbc77bd31fbb70a105a101f7900ec5.jpg

Comic strip:

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Commercial:

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Infographic:

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Brochure:

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Audio clip:

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A Ticket Out the Door

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Many teachers struggle with closure.  It’s always a challenge to stop the lesson in time at the end of the period to sum up the day’s learning and reflect on whether or not we have achieved our desired outcomes.  One powerful strategy for gathering data about student learning at the end of a learning episode is the exit ticket.  An exit ticket gives the teacher formative data about where students are in their learning and should inform choices I make as a teacher about subsequent lesson plans.

Here are some great Exit Ticket templates you can use:

http://wgbyeducation.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/exitslips.pdf

And here is a Pinterest board devoted to the topic:

But, remember, an exit ticket does not have to be fancy and photocopied.  It can be a slip of paper or index card.  What matters most is:  will the questions you are asking provide you with the data you need to drive your instructional decision making?

We often ask questions on exit tickets that are too open ended or general.  Craft your questions to get at the most important learning: What will students know, understand, and be able to do?

Here is a list of Exit Ticket prompts I’ve begun to accumulate that are grouped by levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and more:

http://letthedatabeyourguide.wikispaces.com/Exit+Slip+Prompts

So, now I have the Exit Ticket data… what do I do with it?

Some examples of ways a teacher might respond to Exit Ticket data might be:

what the data says > how I might respond to it

  • all students met the objective > move on with the curriculum
  • most students have not met the objective >  plan a follow up activity using a different modality
  • some students met the objective, some partially met it, some are still struggling with it > sort the exit tickets to create flexible groups with tiered activities 

Exit tickets are just one way to collect formative data from our students and can provide direction for teachers on their lesson planning and their choices for instructional strategies.

It’s all about choices

Over the last several years, I’ve been doing a lot of work in the areas of student engagement and differentiated instruction.  Once aspect that stands out in both areas is the power of student choice.  According to Kanevsky and Keighley, in their article entitled “To Produce or Not to Produce: Understanding Boredom and the Honor of Underachievement” (2003), choice ranks among the 5 characteristics of an optimal learning environment that students seek along with the aspects of control, challenge, complexity and caring.  Choices are motivating to most people and we often make choices based on our personal preferences.

In the world of differentiation, choice also plays center stage and no other strategy illustrates this more than Choice Boards (also called Learning Menus, Think-Tac-Toes).  Choice boards offer a menu of options for students that can vary in content, process, or product.  They are most often constructed with varied learning styles and interests in mind.  Choice boards can even be tiered so that advanced learners are steered toward more challenging choices and struggling learners toward more scaffolded choices.

Here is a link to my wiki called Dare to Differentiate where you will find a plethora of examples of choice boards in various formats (one of my favorites is the dinner menu) for various subject areas and levels.  Also check out a new type of choice board I’ve recently found called the 2-5-8.  On the wikipage, I have also linked to or uploaded examples of rubrics for choice boards along with multimedia examples of ways to deepen your knowledge on the topic.

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Power in Numbers

Teachers like to be in control.  And because of that character trait, we like to talk a lot.  We have so much to share.  But, are we making sure that students are having multiple opportunities to talk about the content they are learning?  There is a quote that I’ve heard many times in the world of education, “The person doing the most talking is doing the most learning.”

So, how do we step back and allow students to take control?  One way is through flexible groupings.  Pairs, triads, random and assigned.  Based on readiness, mixed readiness, interest, or learning preference.

21st century skills highlight collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving.  What better way to practice those skills than in groups?

In the 1990’s, Spencer Kagan came up with a vast array of structures for cooperative learning in small groups.  These structures are just as powerful today as they were almost 20 years ago.

Some of my favorites are:

  • think-pair-share
  • jigsaw
  • inside-outside circles
  • placemat
  • four corners
  • talking chips

As far as grouping strategies, some of my favorites are clock buddies and grouping cards.  Here’s a set of 36 cards that have a multitude of uses:

GROUPINGS_NTO

For more resources on the topic of flexible grouping and grouping strategies, go to:

http://letsgetengaged.wikispaces.com/The+Power+of+Us

 

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Happy Grouping!