By Teresa Day
Building students’ knowledge of other cultures and their ability to speak and understand another language can seem like a daunting task. It’s especially challenging if your school, like many in Kentucky, has few resources in these areas and limited funds with which to acquire them.
Kentucky Educational Television (KET) is partnering with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to create and provide resources to meet the needs of Kentucky teachers and students. After getting ideas and input from teachers across the state, the project began last year with a focus on elementary level Spanish. The result is “Exploraciones,” a multimedia collection of teacher resources.
“Exploraciones” includes repurposed and newly created resources. A major component is “¡Arte y mas!” a video series that KET created a number of years ago as a distance learning approach for younger students. The series includes 60 10-minute video lessons that combine Spanish and arts content. This fun and visually engaging series takes an immersion approach to language learning; no English is spoken. KET revised teacher materials to make it a resource that even teachers who aren’t proficient in Spanish themselves would feel comfortable using.
The teacher materials were completely revamped to include: specific ideas on how to introduce and follow-up each video; audio files of vocabulary words and phrases so that teachers could practice pronunciation and “learn along with their students;” background information to help teachers better understand Spanish grammar and usage in general; and a transcript of each lesson in both Spanish and English so a teacher could become familiar with and completely understand each lesson’s content and activities before showing the lessons to students. Lessons also were aligned to the world language learning targets available here.
“Exploraciones” also includes stand-alone videos, animations and lesson plans. KET created Spanish versions of animations that originally were designed for early childhood learning settings. The animations chosen address world language learning targets – such as being able to describe and discuss family, community and environment, friends, familiar activities and artwork.
For new videos, KET also turned to the learning targets. In one set of segments, Spanish-speaking elementary students take viewers on a guided tour of the school day and its activities. A mother and daughter go shopping for the ingredients to make pozole, a popular Mexican dish, then prepare the dish. KET also created a video folktale from Colombia and added some bilingual English-Spanish storytelling segments as a new addition to the arts toolkit. In some cases, the language level of these stand-alone resources is slightly higher than “¡Arte y mas!”
“Exploraciones” resources are accessible online through PBS LearningMedia here. KET also has printed color assessment flashcards that are used in “¡Arte y mas!” and a set of classroom posters relating to four of the animations are available upon request in addition to being downloadable from PBS LearningMedia.
If you prefer DVDs to downloading the video, you can request DVDs of “¡Arte y mas!” The DVDs, flashcards and posters are all free. E-mail your name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your KET regional educational consultant if you would like to receive them.
“Exploraciones” is just the beginning! The KET Arts Toolkits include many resources that convey authentic glimpses into cultures around the world, from dance and music to storytelling. KET has produced a Chinese folktale, “Little Rabbits,” in Mandarin Chinese, available here. There also is a collection of videos of Chinese music and dance called “Beauty of Jasmine.”
Within PBS LearningMedia there are many other resources produced by other public media stations across the United States. So be sure to check out this free online repository for teaching and learning.
And, perhaps most exciting of all, a new phase of the KET-KDE partnership is beginning that expands resource creation to French and German.
How can you find out more and keep up with what’s going on at KET in global competency and world languages? Once a month, the KET World Languages e-newsletter tells you what’s new and highlights high-quality resources from PBS LearningMedia and other sources. Subscribe at www.ket.org/world.
We’ll also be making presentations at some of the regional meetings this summer. So stay tuned – going global in your Kentucky classroom is getting easier all the time!
Teresa Day is director of arts and special projects at KET.