Laura M. Tarpill
I teach Spanish language courses at Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet High School in New Haven, CT. I instruct all four grade levels mixed into classes that range from Spanish I to Advanced Placement Spanish Language. Since Coop is an inter-district magnet school, 65 percent of the 418 students come from New Haven and 35 percent come from surrounding, mostly suburban, districts. There is a lottery process for New Haven residents and others alike. There is an arts focus at Coop, so every entering ninth grader chooses a major, including such things as drawing, photography, sculpture, dance, theater, chorus, and band. Students are often attracted from out-of-district by the comprehensive arts program.
Due to this mixed population, the classrooms at Coop include students from a variety of backgrounds and socioeconomic groups. About 40 percent of the school population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. The Coop population can be further broken down by race. Nearly 50 percent of the student population is Black, almost 25 percent is Hispanic, almost 30 percent White and one percent is Asian American.
All students are required to take a World Language in order to graduate. Spanish and French are both offered at the present time. Beginning next year, Coop will be one of two high schools in the district to offer Chinese as a world language. Even though French and Chinese will be offered, Spanish is immensely popular with the students and therefore, the majority takes Spanish to fulfill the graduation requirement.
With urging from the guidance department and university requirements as a motivating factor, many students choose to take a third year of Spanish. Due to demand, Coop will offer two Spanish III classes during the 2008-2009 school year. There will be one slower- paced class titled
Topics in Hispanic Culture
and one regular (faster paced) class.
class is intended for students who might struggle in Spanish and need to delve deeper into selected topics. Students who take this class most likely need three consecutive years of a language but are not yet ready to move on to the complicated grammar and vocabulary of Spanish III. The Topics class is the one in which I propose to teach my unit.
As with other World Language classes, this unit will be taught with many different learners in mind. I will be writing other units this summer for the class and intend to incorporate a mix of power point, videos, articles, books, maps, realia, etc. While students will be learning through hands-on activities, their knowledge of the language will also be reinforced by the recycling of many Spanish words and grammar points.