02 July 2016

Back from Mexico! New cultural and interpretive resources

Just flew back from Mexico, and boy are my arms tired!

Must be from holding up my phone for all of those pictures and videos I took.

Before I went to Peru on a Sister Cities exchange trip last year, I started a new Instagram account to document as much as I could of the experience. I collected over 300 photos, complete with ways I might use them.

This year, it was a family trip to Mexico--Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.

In Peru, I collected all sorts of photos, including art, ruins, colonial sites, and schools. That trip was a little longer, and a little more touristically intense. In Mexico, though, the point was mostly to get to know the Mexican side of the family and maybe a little grandparent spoiling. But there was still time for photos!

My main objectives were to show slices of everyday life that my students might find interesting but also to provide resources to exercise their interpretive skills. All of the descriptions I posted were, of course, in Spanish, and I added hashtags to each so that an IFTTT recipe could send them to sorted Pinterest boards:

  • #SXTNletrero for signs I found with at least 1 sentence of text

  • #SXTNvideos for quick videos I made in Spanish about what I saw

  • #SXTNvida for products and practices that were completely different from ours or just different enough to be intriguing

  • #SXTNcomida got its own category, because, I mean, it's FOOD! 


Signs for interpretation

I had the photos saved to my big board of letreros, but also separately on Flickr so I could keep signs from this trip in their own album (and because my IFTTT recipe was a bit wonky at first). They're the most accessible authentic texts for novices, and if there was no visual context on the signs, well, I could take care of that with some Instagram apps to add some background images, like a horse in the park where my kids went riding ponies or pictures of them sticking their hands in the pools with rays and "peces doctor." Plus I know these can help with some specific objectives on their reading portfolios!

LETREROS - México 2016



Videos for interpretation

Listening remains the number one bugaboo in my novice classes. I have discovered, through trial and error and ACTFL Can-Do research, that it's not necessarily appropriate to expect novices to interpret authentic aural texts. I discovered that my novices did a lot better when I called on my Spanish-teaching PLN amigos to create appropriate listening videos for them. So I decided it would be advantageous to create some more for them! Another nice bite-size resource for listening portfolios, and some more perspective on products and practices!



Products and practices

Speaking of products and practices, I knew I wouldn't be touring art museums and historical sites, so I basically just lumped everything interesting I'd see sans writing into a "Mexico" board for students to explore. They can still interpret the descriptions, I suppose, but I got a little subjunctive happy a lot of the time. What I really hope they'll do with these photos and the videos is explore them for self-selected homework and maybe get a kick out of a few of them.



And, of course, food

Abuela always makes sure that we get the best culinary experience when she's around! Although she does also understand that ya' gotta hit Pizza Hut and Carl's Jr. now and then to be sure the nietos, you know, EAT now and then (mostly the nieta--nieto loved pastor and chorizo). There's just SO MUCH to show about the food, I figured this one still deserved its own category.




Cultural reflection

I am making a conscious effort to do more with culture lately, and I think I will probably use these resources to model reflection on products, practices, and perspectives. My plan this semester is to spend some time with each text that we interpret examining 
  1. where it's from
  2. who it's for
  3. what its purpose is
  4. cultural similarities observed
  5. cultural differences observed
  6. perspectives 
So in addition to the possibility of homework self-selection, I think I'll also let students pick through these the first week or so of classes to practice this sort of analysis and promote questioning and cultural inquiry.

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