The culture that is in your backyard…

Oh wow, I’m blogging! As my school year is coming to an end and my graduate summer course, “Teacher Practice in a Connected World” is getting started, I find it beneficial to use this blog to reflect.  This is my 6th year of teaching, but my first year in the Octorara Area School District.  I am fortunate to instruct grades 7 through 12 in the Spanish language.  And absolutely LOVE when I am asked the question, “Why are we learning Spanish?” Now, for the 7th and 8th graders the answer is easy, “because all 7th and 8th graders are required to study a language.” Answering the high school-aged students is much more exciting! So, I encourage them to close their eyes and visualize their favorite places to visit.  While they are visualizing and brainstorming their favorite places: restaurants, amusement parks, the beach, the mountains, the mall and many more, I pose the questions, “Who do you see there?,” What do they look like?,” What are they wearing?,” What are they saying?” Some are hesitant to respond.  Others eagerly participate and elaborate on the different cultures present in their daily lives. I strive to make my language learning classroom culturally enriched.  Not only is it my goal for my students to develop basic conversational skills and an understanding of grammatical points, but to also raise awareness of who and what is around us. I also start the year by displaying the fact that English is not the official language of the United States, which creates a jaw-dropping reaction from most of them.

Each student at the Jr. and Sr. High level is given an iPad for a $50 technology fee.  This makes lesson planning so exciting! I am constantly researching as well as receiving suggestions for different apps for them to use with different grammar, vocabulary and cultural topics.  On their iPads, individually or together, we can explore a variety of historical attractions from our seats! The often utilize a drawing app, of their choice, to take whole group comprehension checks.  I implement Schoology, which is a learning management system, into our daily lessons.  On Schoology, I upload worksheets to eliminate paper as well as post videos or questions that require them to respond in the form of a discussion board.  My use of technology is improving day by day, but also causing me to reflect. I feel like I run into the same problem often.  After utilizing some applications I feel like I no longer have a use for them.  My technological goal is learn more about applications and focus on not just moving from app to app, but finding ways to implement technology in a more meaningful way.


3 thoughts on “The culture that is in your backyard…

  1. Linsa Sunny says:

    Hi Samantha! I love how you answer your students’ questions about why they are learning a new language. My students ask the same question about why they have to learn science when they don’t think they will ever use what they are learning outside of school. Whenever I respond to their question, I never seem to give them a satisfactory response. I like the idea of having them stop and reflect!


    • samanthakelly912 says:

      Hi Linsa! Thank you for your comments! For some students my response to their question isn’t satisfactory as well, but for others a light bulb goes off. I truly believe that maturity has a lot to do with and one day we will be on the same page as our former students.


  2. Robert Sidelinker says:

    I envy anyone who can speak a foreign language well and admire your field. I’m curious about what you think about the fact that most school districts hold off on teaching foreign languages until secondary school. Would foreign language be more effective in the primary grades? It seems that in other countries this is done regularly. Your thoughts?


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