03 July 2017

Flags by Wikipedia

Cultural analysis was officially part of my portfolio scores last semester, primarily for mathematical purposes (it gave me a fifth category for quicker calculation), but it also challenged me to select texts where students can identify specific cultural products, practices, and perspectives.

Our plan was to bring home some more language festival trophies (before the great date-change debacle), but everyone's lines and lyrics were pretty much memorized a few weeks in, so we only needed maybe 15 minutes a day to run through the dance and scenes. You know what that means: time for props and costumes!

My mixed in Spanish 3 kiddos are the designated "directores" for the song and skit, so they get to call the shots, and they said they want each cantante to wear a different flag to represent everyone bajo el mismo sol.

SO, to familiarize everyone with the flags they would wear--AND to get a little interpretive reading in--I collected the description for 20 flags (sorry, Guinea Ecuatorial--you need to work on your Wiki-fu) from es.wikipedia.org. That way, we're really exploring two cultural products, the flag AND the article excerpt!

See, as an English teacher, I'm pretty wary of Wikipedia, but as a Spanish teacher, I can think of no better source for real Real-World interpretation. For one, Wikipedia has a recognizable structure and context students can use as a foundation for their interpretations.Also, if I can get them used to satisfying their curiosity in Spanish, well that's almost as good as getting every girl in the 11th grade obsessed with either Alvaro Soler or Justin Trudeau!   Plus it was a pretty popular option for personal practice blogs last semester anyway).


1. Vocabulary - We pick out important vocabulary from one Wikipedia article. You can use one from the set of 20 or los Estados Unidos, just to really tap into that prior knowledge. It helps to see words like cantón and franja and escudo in context--not that they'll ever use those particular terms outside of this activity, but it's the skill of using that context to fill in less common vocabulary. Estrella can be pretty useful beyond class, though.

It's also a good idea to refresh on the five colors they'll need when distributing markers/crayons/pencils.

2. Drawing - Each kiddo randomly draws a description from my stack and attempts to break down the colors, shapes and placement. Most were able to handle this in about 15 minutes, though there were a few do-overs.

3.  Matching - Did I mention I took the countries' names out of the descriptions? That way when we finished, I could post the "key" to Classroom see how close they were (if I just project it, either the speedsters will have to wait, or the snails will get sneaky).

Then they can compare and figure out where they went wrong OR simply fill in the country name and/or adjectives in their description and attach it!

4. Quizlet - I just happened to stumble across a Quizlet set of flag descriptions sans pictures before I decided to go with Wikipedia, and then just added the remaining descriptions for a complete bandera set. Note: these descriptions use the more common rayas instead of franjas and geometrical cognates, which I think is a good thing.

What with our festival trip getting canceled, we didn't get around to the Quizlet-style review, but we could have maximized onnections and passed around completed flags to help figure out which definition matches which description, and then discussed who got which flag.

In the end, though, it was still pretty fun just randomly passing out completed felt flags, with students requesting specific countries. I think we looked pretty good for our school show even without coordinated festival costumes!

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