21 April 2014

Proposed Units

To earn a slot on the Governor's Teacher Network, I need to propose units I want to develop. This could be my big chance to promote projects that not only make language truly relevant but that make students lives better. So I took another look at the North Carolina Essential Standards (novice, mainly) for world languages and started thinking about what made them essential, what they had to do with real life and issues that affect every student as well as their communities--local or global.

I think what I've come up with could be modified for different languages and different levels, but let me know what you think!

School Supply Drive: Service Learning and Community BuildingThis unit may be conducted in conjunction with local or international ESL classes, community centers, and/or charity organizations. The goal is to communicate with elementary age students in the target language (interpersonal communication) in order to learn about their circumstances and assist in meeting their needs by sharing their stories with potential community donors (presentational communication) using appropriate media to create letters of request, infographs, webpages, videos, and/or social media campaigns. Interpretive communication may be engaged observing authentic school supply lists and school descriptions sent directly from community partners or found online. This provides context for learning vocabulary for common objects and other disciplines as well as a real-world application and a basis for comparing cultural products, practices, and perspectives related to education.

Going Green: Think Globally, Act Locally This unit would require students to examine their own daily habits and those of their community. Students would interpret infographs and both respond to and develop surveys related to recycling, energy consumption, and conservation in order to collaborate and develop action plans for their class, school, or local community. They would discuss their daily routines in terms of consumption and other habits affecting the environment and compare with classmates and students from other classes in the school, district, or in other states or even countries, using the target language. The interpretation and discussion would be based on infographs, videos, articles, posts, and webpages in the target language designed to promote awareness of environmental issues and offer day-to-day tips for reducing, reusing, and recycling. Interpretation and discussion would also draw on connections to the sciences as well as mathematics, especially through activities like calculating carbon footprints and collecting data.

Healthier You: Fitness and Nutrition for All This unit would draw on math, biology, and physical education especially to promote healthy eating and exercise habits among students. Ideally, they would have "buddies" from the community--whether children, peers, or elders--with whom they would set goals and share progress. Alternatively, partners in other target language classrooms from elsewhere in the school, district, state, country, or world with whom they could keep up at least weekly contact would be suitable as well, as long as they were able to connect in person or online--synchronously or asynchronously--to discuss the week's efforts (interpersonal). Students would use the target language to research appropriate diets for their lifestyles and body types as well as potential fitness regimens through infographs, videos, and websites (interpretation). They would then compose their own menus and agendas, applying useful vocabulary like numbers and dates, and track their progress, possibly through relevant apps and websites or simply through personal blogs. Practices and perspectives on health and fitness from different cultures could come into play through media sources and the way they portray diets. Students could follow instructions given in target language fitness videos and instruct their out-of-class buddies on what they learn (presentational).


  1. Love these ideas! The health one is especially cool. I wonder if apps like MyFitnessPal could be set to Spanish?

    1. You know the health one has been stewing since last year when you and I were working on it! That would be a really cool thing to find out if I get to develop the unit!

  2. Having spend some time working on units, here are a couple of thoughts.

    - I love the thematic nature of these proposals. The units clearly attempt to connect to content and community outside of the language.
    - The need for authentic resources is clearly evident.
    - Opportunities for interculturality are clearly identified.
    - service learning opportunities!!!!

    - Wondering what the interest level of students would be in these topics. We have to find a careful balance between what WE want them to learn content wise even if they are not interested. Yes, they units are real-life, just wondering if they are the real-life of students.
    - Are the units truly a departure or are they traditional outcomes disguised in "sexy" topics and themes? Seeing school supplies, menus, ....

    Again, I think these are great thematic starting points for what can be very rich units. I wonder what kind of units students would write if given the opportunity.

    1. I wondered about similar opportunities, but the standards are such that these topics are pretty inevitable, but the social aspects and the real-world audience makes the same-old same-old something they can connect to and care about longer than a test. Personally, I think Genius Hour handles a lot of the units students would write much better than a set formula, but NC is looking for something everyone can use, and I don't think everyone is ready for TL Genius Hour.