Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Best of GWATFL 2018 presents at NECTFL and beyond!

Opportunity knocks...
By Vicky Masson and Marcela Velikovsky

A friend in college once told me, "When opportunity knocks, go for it!" She was right!

That is exactly what we - Marcela and Vicky - did in June 2018, when we got an email from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) with an invitation to participate in the 2018 Smithsonian Virtual Teacher Curricula Creation Opportunity.

Our journey began
We created three collections in the Smithsonian Learning Lab platform (SLL) called “People, Place, and Time: How Art Reflects Culture.” A “collection” is like an interactive folder where you can organize a wide range of resources to develop a lesson or unit and keep them in one place. The Smithsonian Learning Lab has more than a million digital resources for you to discover, design your own student-centered lessons, create new collections or customize those already published, and share them with the world for others to use.

In each collection, we integrate museum resources into world languages across the curriculum and focus on the three modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational. This allows students to learn toward proficiency by using the language as a tool to learn about different topics. Because we both teach Spanish, our collections are based on resources that highlight Latinx history, art, and culture. As teachers, we strive to widen our students' worldviews, so we also include the Project Zero Global Thinking Routines and connections to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Each collection started with one resource... and lots of questions! Fellow teachers know our brains get in full gear with a multitude of thoughts and questions that we ask ourselves when trying to develop the best lesson for our students. What is the purpose? What do students need to know? What are the outcomes? How do we make it relevant? What challenges might we face? What background knowledge do students need? Will they understand big concepts?                   

Our journey continued
Philippa, Marcela, and Vicky at 2018 GWATFL Fall Conference
Philippa, Marcela, and Vicky at 2018 GWATFL Fall Conference
In order to share our collections with local educators, we made our initial stop at GWATFL 2018 Fall Conference. We presented our work together with Philippa Rappoport from the SLL.

A surprise on the road
We were selected as Best of GWATFL! We were so thrilled! We would head to the Northeastern Conference for Teachers of Foreign Language (NECTFL) in New York, on February 7 - 9, 2019. This time, we presented with Tess Porter from the SLL.  

NECTFL 2019 - Tess, Marcela, and Vicky
NECTFL 2019 - Tess, Marcela, and Vicky
One more stop
We also presented at Project Zero (PZ) in Another Language at DC International, in Washington, DC. Teachers from bilingual schools, International Baccalaureate (IB) and immersion programs attended and brainstormed about our craft. It was fascinating to see these colleagues in action, collaborating and deeply engaged in rich discussions about art, culture, teaching, and Global Competence.

At PZ in Another Language, DC International: Participants at work
At PZ in Another Language, DC International: Participants at work
Ready to go on
Who knows where our journey will take us now? So far it’s been an incredibly enriching experience and we are ready to embark on our next adventure!

What will you do next time opportunity knocks on your door?