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The Abuelos Project: A Community-based Curriculum

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1 The Abuelos Project: A Community-based Curriculum
Maria M. Carreira Professor of Spanish California State University, Long Beach Yale University, May 16, 2011

2 Curricular implications of the NHLRC survey
HL curricula should • Be grounded in local (HL) communities; • Be authentic and personally meaningful; Rationale: Most HLLs are US born or are early arrivals; study the HL to communicate with family and friends in the US; use their HL in the context of the home, derive benefit from belonging to a community of speakers;

3 Curricular implications (cont.)
HL curricula should • Have a bilingual and bicultural outlook; Rationale: HLLs frequently make use of both of their languages together • Be input rich; Rationale: HLLs have little exposure to their HL • Progress from the aural to the written registers; Rationale; HLLs have relatively strong aural skills and weak reading and writing skills; • Accommodate different levels of proficiency; Rationale: HLLs in a given class can vary significantly from each other.

4 In addition…language-specific and institution-specific issues
With Latino students, the curriculum should focus on developing general literacy skills. Rationale: The Latino academic gap, Latinos’ professional goals for Spanish. Note: Relative to other HLLs, Latinos have well-developed reading and writing skills in their HL (decoding and encoding). However, their literacy skills in English (command of registers) may not be as strong as those of other students.

5 Responsive teaching What are the “issues” in your language and
Institution? Discrimination? Stereotypes? Low literacy? Culture clash? Parental expectations? Goals for the HL?

6 The Abuelos Project

7 Overview Origins Projects by Profs. Olga Kagan and Ana Roca Objectives
Learning grammar and vocabulary in context Expanding literacy skills and bilingual range Connecting students with community resources • Pedagogical priorities Promoting student engagement Responding to the needs of all learners

8 Description of curriculum
Big plan: • Students work with an elderly community member. They visit with this person at various times of the semester or school year, as they work on different projects; • This person’s life story forms the basis for the oral history, interview, or short story that they will produce. Scaffolding: • Students prepare for these assignments by reading and studying samples of each genre and producing samples of each based on another classmate’s life.

9 Texts Pertain to the US Latino experience;
Proceed from the aural to the written and from the informal to the formal registers. Interview (Unit I) Interview (Unit II) Oral narrative (Unit III) Oral narrative and short story (Unit IV) Short story (Unit V) Academic presentation/paper (Units VI, VII &VIII)

10 General structure of units
Students examine 2-4 samples of the type of text they will be asked to produce (Providing rich input); They compare their own life experiences to those described in the texts (Connecting to their communities of origin); They analyze the organizational properties and language of the texts (Progressing from the aural to the written registers, developing literacy skills, accommodating different levels); They work with a classmate to produce this type of text. They work with the older relative or neighbor to gather information that may help them produce this type of text. (Exploring their HL community ).

11 Example: The “interview” unit
Students watch an interview on YouTube of writer Zoe Valdés about her life as a Cuban exile; Students read an interview of Valdés about her Chinese grandfather, who immigrated to Cuba at the turn of 20th century; (oral -> written, recycling of vocabulary/grammar, revising topics);

12 Example: The “interview” unit (2)
Class compares the written v. spoken interview; Class discusses the structure of the written interview: vocabulary, register, tone, organization, etc. Class compares the interview genre with other written formats for representing personal information (job application, passport);

13 The interview unit: Grammar (3)
The grammar and vocabulary emerges from the readings and video clips. Past tense Capitalization, orthography Vocabulary • Key vocabulary and grammar is posted on a “word wall” on Blackboard.

14 The interview unit: Writing
To scaffold and support writing • Students listen to and read sample interviews to familiarize themselves with this genre (oral -> written); • Language needed for the interview is previewed and posted on a virtual “Word wall” (vocabulary + grammar); • Opportunities for low-stakes writing practice are provided;

15 Process writing Students interview each other and write an interview;
They edit each other’s interviews for content, organization, and language; The class discusses key issues that emerge from the peer editing activity and drafts a rubric for writing an interview.

16 Process writing (2) Students visit an elderly person who is an HL speaker; On the basis of this visit, they identify themes or ideas for their interview and write questions; Working in small groups, they revise their questions and fine tune their ideas for the interview;

17 Process writing (3) Students interview the “abuelo” and write up their interview; Working in small groups, they edit their interview using the rubric (results are discussed and posted); The polished interviews form the basis of the next writing project: the short story (material is recycled at a higher level).

18 Summary: Priorities in curricular development
Responding to students’ socio-affective needs (connecting to HL communities and exploring meaningful issues); Responding to students’ linguistic needs; Building on the skills and knowledge that students bring to the class; Providing rich input; Addressing your students’ particular issues

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