Hello, Teachers! 

Happy Friday and welcome back to our monthly newsletter. Put your feet up and enjoy!
In this newsletter:
  • Who are we and what do we teach?
  • Creating a materials repository: Join Us!
  • Surveys!
  • Summer plans: let’s hack our lesson plans together!
  • Best practices showcase: Meet Jocelly Meiners
Who are we and what do we teach
We have been excited to learn about the number of ways that teachers are using Radio Ambulante in the classroom. While the majority of teachers are using it for language classes, many are also finding ways to incorporate the podcast into their classes on Latinx studies, Latin American history and politics, sociology and more. 

Here's what we have learned so far through the survey:
are high school teachers
are university teachers
teach AP Spanish Language and Culture at a high school level
are heritage learner teachers at high school or university levels
Creating a materials repository
Thank you to those who have already submitted materials to our repository! We look forward to sharing those with all of you soon. In the meantime if you have something that worked with your students when you used Radio Ambulante, please consider sharing it with us! 

Under the Creative Commons Licensing, our work can be recognized and celebrated, while allowing creators to decide how it will be shared with others. To know more about how Creative Commons Licensing works, check out this video

I have something to share!
Radio Ambulante is going on hiatus for a few months. Besides our current podcast, the team is working on new shows for the next season, but we need your help to decide what to do next. Comedy? Fiction? How about a new podcast for kids? Please take this survey and help us figure that out. You can also share it with your friends or colleagues.
We have been excited to see the number of subscribers to this newsletter! Thank you! This begs the question, of course, as to whether you would like to see the newsletter published more often.

So, how often would you like to receive this newsletter?

*Click on the option that best fits your needs.

Every other month
Every three months
Summer hackathon
We know that the summer is a time to relax, spend time with family and friends, and recover from a long year of teaching. We also know this is when many lesson plans are written and plans for the coming year are developed.

Rather than everyone creating their materials in isolation, what if we worked together to make this happen? What if we set aside a few days in the summer to work collaboratively and virtually to create content to accompany episodes? And what if we focused those efforts on the two major areas where our materials are being used: AP Spanish Language and Culture and courses for heritage learners?

Crazy, right? Maybe not!  🤓

If you are interested in helping with the collaborative process of creating, editing, and reviewing teaching materials this summer (ie a summer hack-a-thon), please contact me and indicate if you have a preference for working with materials for AP Language and Culture classes, or heritage learners. 
Best practices showcase

A little bit about my class
I teach a rigorous, project-based writing class in which intermediate/advanced heritage learners work on their academic writing skills and use of formal registers.

It's an intensive class in which they do a lot of research, analysis, and writing about several topics of their choice. A few times during the semester we have an activity called “Leer y Comentar.” These activities give them kind of break from the fast pace of the course and allow students to read an article or listen to a podcast with some interesting cultural value, or about a current event relevant to the Hispanic community. The idea is that the students read the article or listen to the podcast at home and come to class prepared to discuss it. Their grade for this assignment is based on their participation in the class discussion.

Why I chose this episode
The episode Escuchadme, terráqueos was perfect for my class. Also, as their teacher and as a Hispanic mother struggling to raise bilingual kids in the US, this podcast really touched me, and I found myself crying while listening to it on my way to work and also excited to have my students listen to it.

My goals for the lesson
My goal was for the students to enjoy the podcast and to have an opportunity to discuss the issues stemming from the podcast with their peers, and for their experiences as heritage learners to be validated in a different way.

What I created
For the assignment I provided the link to the podcast and the following questions for the students to think about before the class discussion:
  • ¿Te identificas de alguna manera con la historia de Daniel y sus hijos y el aprendizaje del español?
  • ¿Cuál fue el momento más bajo para Daniel con respecto a su uso del español?
  • ¿Qué aprendiste sobre el panorama lingüístico en Perú?
  • ¿Estás de acuerdo con los comentarios de Daniel sobre la importancia de poder dominar el español formal?
  • ¿Qué fue lo que más te gustó o más te llamó la atención de este podcast?
I recently learned about a type of class discussion called “Spider Web Discussion,” which comes from Alexis Wiggins’ book “The Best Class You Never Taught.” In a Spider Web discussion, the students have complete autonomy, while the instructor is simply an observer. With the students seated in a circle, a successful conversation is one where a web pattern emerges among the speakers. 

There are a few ground rules that I provide when doing this type of discussion: First, all the students in the class will receive the same grade for the assignment, which is contingent upon all of the students participating. Also, it is important that there is not a single participant who monopolizes the conversation. Therefore, they must keep each other accountable for doing their part in conducting a balanced, productive discussion.

What happened in class
When the discussion began, I realized right away that the students had responded very positively to the podcast, and it had really resonated with their own personal stories. They immediately started commenting on the question about whether they identified with Daniel’s and his kids’ stories, and the discussion took off from there. This was such a big discussion topic that they never really got to the other questions. Most of the students just wanted to share their own personal stories and how they related to the story told in the podcast.

Feedback from students
The students’ comments about the podcast were overwhelmingly positive. Most of them were able to relate to some aspect of the story, and were excited to share their own story. What mostly stood out to me is how students said they were grateful that their parents taught them Spanish, and how much they value it now. They also commented on the importance of continuing to develop their Spanish proficiency and their desire to teach Spanish to their own kids someday. 

Students were given an assignment to write in their journals about the podcast. Below are some of the students’ entries:
“El podcast fue algo que me gustó demasiado. Yo personalmente nunca escucho podcasts y este hasta me hizo llorar. Me gustó mucho porque toca muchos temas relevantes para una persona que es bilingüe. Cuando el muchacho nos platicó sobre las vergüenzas que pasaba por no hablar el español bien me hizo pensar en todas las veces que a mí me ha pasado lo mismo. Gracias a este podcast quiero aprender más sobre la lengua profesional en español para no solamente mis hijos sino para mi carrera. Fue un podcast que me abrió los ojos y me enseñó que hay muchos hispanos que también son americanos que sufren por lo mismo.”
“Yo en el futuro cuando tenga hijos quiero enseñarles español, y este podcast me hizo más segura de eso.”

What I would do differently next time
When we did the Spider Web discussion the students had 30 minutes to talk about the podcast. The 30 minutes flew by, and they did not address all of the discussion questions. Although it was interesting to see the direction they decided to take with the discussion, next time, I would emphasize the importance of addressing all of the different questions, so that the discussion can be more balanced and touch upon different important topics.

Final thoughts
I am very grateful to Radio Ambulante for producing a podcast that validates the experiences of heritage learners in the US, and even promotes their desire for linguistic maintenance. 
Thanks for reading! If you like this newsletter, please share it with a friend. If you have materials to share and/or you would like to be featured in future newsletters, please send me a note.
And also, consider donating to Radio Ambulante. ¡Gracias!

Hasta la próxima,

Bárbara Sawhill
Spanish Language Education Coordinator
Radio Ambulante
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