Photos to discuss in the World Language classroom

Images can be rich and compelling. Looking at them, language learners are encouraged to speak. For looking at photographs and talking about them, there are a few pointers for how to choose an image.

For discussing images, I employ Visual Thinking Strategy. I was trained in this method, but can give you an overview to get you started and then you can research it further. In a nutshell, ask your students the following questions:
– What is going on in this picture?
– What do you see that makes you say that?
– What more can you find?
Most importantly, validate student interpretations as they go. Every comment is an important addition. Point at what students mention as they say it. Repeat back to students their comments.

Where can you find rich and compelling photos? A resource that will be invaluable to you is the collection of photographs for educators to use for Visual Thinking Strategy from the New York Times. You can start with this slide show of 40 photographs.

For this discussion, I am going to use three photos from that collection to review some ideas for how to choose a photo that can be most useful for conversation. Here are three ideas to keep in mind:
Choose a photo that expresses multiple ideas. For example, don’t choose a photo that is a close up of one being. In this photo there is a parade, house, car and motorcycle. There is a girl in a dress and the color of that dress is compelling. There is emotion expressed in this photo.

From the New York Times

Choose a photo that lends itself to discussion using vocabulary that your students already have. This photo takes place in a classroom. There are students, a teacher, tables, chairs and they are looking at something. There is vocabulary that students have even at the novice level.

From the New York Times

Choose a photo that shows an aspect of culture or that lends itself to a social justice commentary. The last two photos showed two different themes for cultural commentary. The first was the celebration of a quinceanera and the second was a view into the setting of a school. Here is a photo of a human living in an exhibit in a zoo. This photo lends itself to a social justice commentary on habitats in zoos.

From the New York Times

Here are slides with the images I found so that you can easily copy the slide and use them in your classroom. Let me know in the comments what you keep in mind when choosing a photo to discuss in class.

Teaching Intercultural Competency

While we are teaching students to communicate in another language we are also teaching them intercultural competency, so that students can learn to interact in other cultures. As I am currently planning lessons I feel fortunate that there has been a lot written on teaching culture and some of the guidance is available for free on the Internet. In this blog post, I will show you free materials that I borrowed from to build my toolbox to teach intercultural connections.

Two resources that I merged to make a pre and post assessment

A guide to co-creating classroom guidelines with your students and setting the tone the first day

Build rapport between the members of your class by having them divide into groups to prepare to teach the whole class playground games from around the world.

  • Article on playground games around the world

My favorite three activities / warm ups from: Intercultural Learning Toolbox of Classroom Activities

  • 2 visions for 1 reality
  • 60 seconds = 1 minute, or does it?
  • Drawing with 2 hands

Lesson plans for Lessons that address cultural competency

Along the way, students reflect by writing in a blue exam book that they keep as a journal. In addition, when we look at specific cultures, they write their thoughts. For some ideas of prompts, here is an ACTFL document.

Though all of these resources are in English, many of them are straight-forward enough for students to navigate in the language they are learning. I wish you great luck with the teaching of culture to your students. A deep understanding of culture promotes tolerance and justice. This is truly important work.

What are the resources you have found to teach Intercultural Competence? Please add to this post with a comment so that we can start a conversation.

Reader: Qui parle français? Livre 1

Individuals in a culture share knowledge of the same people. When I listen to a podcast or read a book, there are references to real people who it is understood that the listener or reader will know. In Novice French I want to introduce my students to people world-wide who speak the language they are learning, so I have found this reader to be helpful. The purpose of my post is to share with you one way this reader could be incorporated into your students’ learning.

The can-do statement for intercultural communication is: I can describe famous people who speak French.

You might want to start with a video of why people around the world speak French. This EdPuzzle of a video from 1jour1actu could be a good start. Then move on to a Quizlet that introduces high frequency verbs in the first person. These phrases appear again and again in the readings and teaching them up front will support your students. Next, have the students do the short one-page readings on the different personalities. After the students read, ask them to communicate five facts about the person to a partner, then have them share these facts as a whole class.

At this point get students to talk without having the text in front of them. Show the students a picture of the person. During your class discussion, ask students to say any detail about the picture, the person or who the person is. Then, after the class discussion, write a paragraph together to collect all the ideas that were shared. The teacher can write on the white board while the students say sentences. Once a paragraph has been completed, read the paragraph back to the students or have them read it with you. As a final step, erase the board and ask students to write three sentences about the person in their journals. For a challenge, ask students to add in one original sentence, for example what they think of the person.

The reader is very accessible to novice learning and provides them with entry-level information. At the end of the lesson, extend their learning with an authentic document. For example, here are three EdPuzzles for your students:

.I hope you will find these materials useful with your own students!

Infusing Culture in Assessment

My discovery of backward design came at the right time. I have been slowly making the shift from teaching students about language to teaching students to use language, what we sum up as teaching for proficiency. Backward design allowed me to make a change in what the students understood they had to do. The teacher gives students the objectives formulated as can-do statements. Then shows them how to use language in a series of three tasks that reflect the three modes of communication, Interpretive, Interpersonal and Presentational. We call this triad, developed by ACTFL, an Integrated Performance Assessment.

Integrated Performance Assessment

There were many characteristics of the IPA that worked for my teaching.  Principally, it allowed me to use culture as the overarching theme to my unit. Culture is the relationship between the products, practices and perspectives of people.  When we show students an authentic document (in an Interpretive task for an IPA) we give them a chance to observe culture and draw conclusions for themselves. I wasn’t doing them any service by making generalizations about French culture myself.  It is much better to show them the culture through readings, videos, and pictures. The teacher is in effect bringing the culture into the classroom.

On Friday I am going to present on Infusing Culture through Assessment for novice learners at my state’s annual professional development conference. Putting together my presentation gave me time to reflect on where I am in the process of writing and implementing IPAs. I haven’t mastered IPAs, so I am hoping that my audience will appreciate what I have to say about what I have learned so far through the process. The process I have been through has convinced me that IPAs drive a method of instruction that gets learners from the beginning to “use” language and teaches them to speak spontaneously. This method, to me, is worth exploring further.

Please see my presentation posted below.

Infusing Culture in Assessment Presentation

Here are my handouts for the presentation.

Outline

Resources

Mon Pull Interpretive Activity

On fait les magasins Interpretive Activity

Activities Interpersonal Prompt

Food Interpersonal Prompt

Here is a Spanish example IPA from my colleague Lauren Carroll

Spanish Example IPA