We’re Going Global!

--Originally published at Flipping my Spanish Classroom

Flipping my Spanish class was the best decision I ever made. Freeing up class time has given me the ability to incorporate so much more into my classes. More than anything else, I moved the focus of class from me to my students. This shift has affected me more and more as the years have gone by. Whenever I get ideas for projects or assignments, my first questions are ALWAYS:

  1. Do the students really need to know this?
  2. When will the students use this again?
  3. Will this really matter to the students?
This year, I am adding a new question - How can this help students make a global connection?
 
I teach in a small community at a high school of 700 students, many of which have been going to school together their entire lives. For many of them, their only exposure to other cultures comes from what as a language teacher, I provide. Many think going "all the way to Denver" (a 30 minute drive) is a big deal. Going to visit another country and/or experiencing another culture is something many of them have not experienced, and may not experience for quite some time.

This can lead to students that a)don't realize how lucky they are, and b)are unable to truly understand the rest of the world outside of our little town. This is a problem not only for me as an educator, but for me as a citizen of the world. How can our students ever hope to be prepared for life if they aren't empathetic and open to the culture of others that live in our world?

So, what does this mean for the classroom? It means that I am working hard to add more people into my classroom. No, it doesn't mean I will need more desks. I want to add other students learning Spanish, authors, politicians, sports figures, leaders and more to my classroom. I want to help them not only make global connections for class, but for life. I want my class to be the most relevant it can be by making it a part of the real world.

We are going to incorporate YouTube 360 videos. (I even bought a VR headset.) I want use everything at my disposal to get students truly immersed in the culture, and what better way then to really put them in the action. They can be standing in the middle of the Plaza Mayor, or inside of Sagrada Familia. It isn't the same as being there, but it is an awesome experience for those who need to learn to look outside of our little town.

I am going to incorporate Twitter in the classroom. If students have a comment about a character in a book, why not make that comment to the author? We will be reading more and getting more input. If they student read a story about a politician, celebrity, sports figure, why not tag them in a comment? I am working on the start of a rubric for Twitter usage, which I will finish with the help of my students, but I want it to be more about just points....it needs to generate a level of excitement because what they are learning really MEANS something.

I am also working on making connections through epals to hopefully have some pen pal correspondence for my students. Isn't learning about hobbies and past times going to be more interesting if they are sharing that information with someone abroad? Won't they be more willing to learn the vocabulary and structures necessary if they are talking to a real person?

I want to reinforce that the focus of the class is the students. I love a worksheet, or looking for that "perfect" project or activity, but won't they be so much better off if they are learning because they want to? Because they don't want to look foolish in front of a new friend? Because they wrote to someone, who actually wrote back?

Who's with me? Want to be a part of the connections? Comment below.

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