As a middle school teacher at an inter-district magnet school, I am required to include our school's themes of science, communication and technology in my classroom teaching. As a Spanish teacher in my district, I am expected to involve my students in the five C's: communication, culture, comparisons, communities and connections. Embedding all of these themes into my teaching is crucial, but it is more important to present these themes in a way that is meaningful and relevant to my students. A unit on Latinos and American consumer culture encompasses many, if not all, of these themes while simultaneously being of interest to my middle-school students.
Despite our inner-city setting, our building is a state-of the-art facility equipped with various forms of technology, which makes it easier for me to create opportunities for students to showcase their knowledge of the Spanish language and culture through creative projects. Assessments, such as the product advertisement they will need to create at the end of this unit, always require communication in the target language, knowledge of culture and/or community and the use of various forms of technology. Basically, students get a chance to address school and district themes in fun and creative ways.
The magnet school comprises students from a wide range of ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. This variation among the students makes it easier for them to grasp the cultural diversity found within the Spanish speaking community. Being part of a heterogeneous school population allows them compare their own cultures to that of their classmates and find any connections they may have through communicating with one another.
While my school setting is helpful, students will only benefit from the resources available to them in our building if learning is meaningful. There is no doubt in my mind that the theme of shopping is of interest to teenagers, so the real challenge is to present the following information in entertaining ways so as to maintain their interest and get the best results!