We know that the ACTFL Core Practices encourage us to use authentic resources as much as possible in our teaching.
We also know that for each thematic unit we teach, we would ideally like to have a toolbox full of authentic resources for each that consists of a variety of texts and media that will
- be appealing to our learners
- expose them to a variety of text types
- work for guided and independent activities and assessments, and other aspects of our lessons.
How do we find and curate all of the authentic resources we’d like to use in our lessons for a thematic unit?
When you are gathering authentic resources for any thematic unit, there are several things to keep in mind. In my blog post from September 16, 2017, “How do I select authentic resources for my language classroom?” I offered a tool for guiding your selection of authentic resources (which can be downloaded by clicking on the image below):
Let’s begin by considering the variety of authentic resources that may exist around a particular theme.
Pinterest is a good place to start. On Pinterest, you will find many language colleagues have built boards around themes. As I shared in my post, “How do I find authentic resources for my language classroom?” (posted on 9/8/17 ), there are “Pinners” you can follow on Pinterest whose boards are arranged around themes you teach. Some of my recommendations include:
I have created over 100 Pinterest boards on a variety of topics for multiple languages. I have attempted to curate all of the authentic resources so that they are appropriate to use with students, but the rule of thumb about using any new resource with your students is:
Preview! Preview! Preview!
Please feel free to peruse the boards that align to your units. Click on the image below to go to my webpage where each of the themes is clickable:
What if you want to collect your own set of authentic resources for a particular theme?
Let’s use the example of a thematic unit about school and the subtopic is school lunches. Some examples of authentic resources gathered on that subtopic might be:
Weekly menu (Italian):
Infographic (German): .
Infographic (Portuguese) .
Photo (lunches from around the world)
For more authentic resources on the topic of school lunches for multiple languages, visit my Pinterest board:
Once you have gathered lots of examples of authentic text for a particular theme or unit, consider how you will implement each of them. Think of the list of questions below as categories under which you can sort the authentic resources you have gathered:
- Which authentic resources will you use as lesson hooks that are high interest to your students?
- Which authentic resources will support vocabulary input or reinforcement?
- Which authentic resources provide a context for teaching grammar in context?
- Which authentic resources will you group together of varying difficulty levels to provide challenge for all learners in the form of tiered text or tiered tasks?
- Which authentic resources will students use as a basis for interpersonal tasks? for presentational tasks?
- Which authentic resources will allow students to practice their listening and viewing skills?
- For which authentic resources will you create a graphic organizer to assist students in capturing what they learn from the text?
- Which authentic resources will be the context for performance tasks?
- Which authentic resources will be the basis of learning centers that allow students to work independently across the modes of communication?
- Which authentic resources will be the context for guided discussions?
Some of the types of activities might include:
- Comparing and contrasting school lunches in the US vs. a target language country.
- Creating a presentational speaking or writing product about an ideal school lunch menu
- Designing a new weekly menu for the school cafeteria
- Using authentic resources as a basis of a discussion or cultural comparison (scaffolded with expressions lists, etc. for struggling learners)
- Expressing opinions about school lunches in their own school (write a letter to the principal or district superintendent, etc.)
- Using authentic school menus as a context for an information gap activity
Interpretive skill building:
- Highlighting grammar points and language patterns in the text
- Demonstrating strategies for interpretation of authentic text through a guided activity and think aloud