13 May 2012

Experiencia Afrolatina, Part 1

My unit on the Afrolatino Experience has evolved since last year. I have 4 distinct countries whose experiences we survey, a few key texts--of truly varied forms--for each, and essential questions that facilitate reflection, comparison, and contrast among the four countries.

Essential questions:
  • ¿Cómo se expresa la herencia africana en estas culturas?
  • ¿Cómo se perciben personas negras en estas culturas?
  • ¿Cuál es la historia tras estas actitudes?
These questions, I feel, highlight some of the most salient similarities and differences among the countries I've chosen and can be observed in the texts I offer up to students. It is interesting to see how varied perceptions are and to observe the intricate subtleties that separate the history of the afrolatino community in each country we explore.

  • Colombia
  • México
  • Cuba
  • República Dominicana
I might vary the order depending on the class, but I find that the music of Colombia and the message from the interview I like to tie in with it are a good way to catch students' attention and establish some familiar territory that is, at the same time, tantalizingly exotic. The scandal associated with Mexico and the stark contrast of attitudes and circumstances there versus in Colombia lays the ground for some healthy debate. Then I can go a little more historical with Cuban classics and end with the powerful and eerily familiar tension between Haiti and the DR.

Authentic texts:
These are the texts I used this time. I have a YouTube playlist with more (including a few English videos, I confess), and I'm planning a separate post for each individual country with more resources, including some I've discovered through the intrepid @karacjacbos and @zjonesspanish.

República Dominicana
Tying it together
After each country, we stop and debrief on the texts and people/characters we're using to understand that particular culture using a graphic organizer with the essential questions aligned. And now that we're wrapping up the final sub-unit, students are going to form groups and choose one of the subsets to explore more deeply for a final presentation project (which will also get its own post, some time around presentation time).

Reflection thus far
I have to say, that this year has gone a little smoother, thanks in part to some streamlining of sources, keeping each unit to about a week, and breaking down interpretation tasks further. 

I've also done some tailoring to this year's clientele by largely eliminating--or at least postponing--the Spanish debate segments. The students want to comment on what they're reading, but remain intimidated by the prospect of expressing their commentary in Spanish. I'm allowing them to comment in English, and have HOOKED three or four of my toughest sells by doing so. It's not exactly a "silent phase," but I consider it a sort of pre-production phase. As they're working on researching and assembling their final presentations, I might re-introduce the debate as a way of scaffolding between their English comments and their Spanish presentations.I have been somewhat remiss in the interpersonal department without those debates, so that is definitely something I'll be tinkering with as part of the post-sub-unit, pre-presentation wrap-up.

I hope to share more of the resources I have collected and created before the school year ends.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laura,

    I LOVE the idea of focusing on different countries. Your EQs are excellent, open enough so that students can highlight what they have learned by citing the various resources. What are you thinking for an assessment? Since you are doing PBL, it might be different than what I suggest below... but here goes :)

    It might be good to have students (after they have been exposed to all the counries) focus on two countries to compare and contrast. Comparing and contrasting the songs from different countries could be a great assessment piece. Also, students can describe how the lyrics/videos of different songs reflect the realities in different countries. I have found that when students use the songs/ videos as poem/text and cite them, they are engaged, passionate and make some amazing connections.

    You mentioned on Twitter that you wanted to make it more personal, and I liked Carrie's idea of comparing and contrasting to their own lives too. Sometimes, I think it can be made "personal" if students really like the songs/ videos because they see it as entertainment that they like, and therefore it is "personal".

    Also, your use of authentic resources is great! I just put your YouTube items in my delicious file - thanks so much for sharing! I look forward to hearing how it goes. Below I shared a couple of Colombia specific resources that I used:

    - Article and video about racism and clacism

    - PSA about racism in Colombia
    http://vimeo.com/5212659 and cloze activity:
    Yo quiero ser piloto de 1.____.
    Yo quiero ir a la 2.____.
    Yo puedo ser gerente del 3.____.
    Y los afrodescendientes en Colombia, lucha por una mejor calidad de 4.____en las ciudades y en sus territorios colectivos. Buscan ser tratados con dignidad y 5.____en la vida cotidiana y que se conozca su historia y valioso aporte al país. La 6.____racial afecta la vida concreta de 7.____de Colombianos. Usted es la parte de lucha contra la discriminación 8.____.