Ruth Hoff: Using Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources — Spanish Adaptation at Wittenberg University
About this Course
An intermediate course for Spanish majors and minors.
Syllabus (Microsoft Word 56kB Jan2 16)
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
I used the materials from this module in a half-semester intermediate-level Spanish course. I had taught the course previously but welcomed the opportunity to strengthen its interdisciplinary connections by introducing more science through the use of this module. As we made our way through all six units, students remarked on the fresh approach with its focus on scientific concepts taught in Spanish within a cultural context. For the most part, these are not science students.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate MaterialsI ended up taking about three and a half weeks to complete the module since we did some of the optional activities to expand discussions. In order to include grammar, which is also part of this course, I would sometimes break apart a unit to cover it in two class sessions rather than one. This opened up time for language practice that focused on particular grammar constructions. In addition, I found that my students were not used to learning about scientific concepts in a Spanish course, and in many cases they needed extra time to absorb and work with the content material.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my CourseThe course is only a half semester so it moves quickly. We meet as a class for an hour, three times a week. The first two weeks are dedicated to a brief overview of geographical features of Spain and Latin America, with students viewing the film Diarios de motocicleta and then individually presenting specific countries to the class. I implement the materials from the Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources module during weeks 3 through 5. To finish the course, students read and discuss the short story "Axolotl" by Julio Cortázar. Throughout the course, we also work with specific grammar topics and pronunciation.
For each unit, I assigned the assessment activities as homework and/or collected pre-class activities. For purposes of the pilot, I evaluated these with the corresponding rubrics. Students received marks for completion and effort, which allowed them to tackle more difficult material without feeling overly anxious if they had a hard time understanding. The summative assessment was part of a quiz given after we completed the entire module. As part of this quiz, I also included some of the questions and/or variations of work they had done previously as homework to check their comprehension of the material.
My goals in developing and using the materials in this module were to strengthen the interdisciplinary scope of my course, particularly in the area of science, and to give students the opportunity to advance their Spanish skills through active engagement in authentic global contexts. I was drawn to the theme of environmental justice in that it combines social, cultural, and environmental components in challenging, meaningful, and at times, gripping ways. I believe the materials simultaneously raise awareness of the human impact on and struggles surrounding natural resources while introducing them to tools to address these challenges.