Megan Brady, OFLA Executive Vice President
Spanish Teacher, Northwest High School
After a super busy, hugely beneficial weekend at the Central States Conference (languages for ALL!), I came home energized and ready to change the world. A huge shoutout to superstar Kathy Shelton for introducing me to the Sustainable Goals website and initiative to help me make the connection that every single level of language courses could benefit from it. It showed me that I have the power to change my lessons to be more impactful than ever before. This, along with talking to some fellow colleagues in the project-based learning session , I created what I consider an awesome unit that I am super excited about. I am implementing this in my Spanish 3 classes this year.
First, we are looking at the 17 global goals (which are also the Sustainable Development Goals, found at https://www.globalgoals.org/ and https://sdgs.un.org/goals, respectively) and deciphering each of them to get a feel for them and how we can help. Then, we are looking at several readings and videos which talk about education around the world. We talk about the differences and similarities we see, things we like and dislike about each place, and eventually we sway towards multilingual education, the benefits of learning a language, and then on to education for our friends with different abilities, and how important it is to reach each student where they are and to make quality education accessible to all. This is the bulk of their learning: reading and listening in Spanish, as well as discussing in groups and as a class what we are learning, what is surprising, etc.
Next comes the fun part! I am lucky in that our county has some special needs rooms housed in our buildings, and we are all on the same campus. I have 3 different Spanish 3 classes which will be divided among our 3 special needs groups as well as our 2 preschool classes to go and teach Spanish in a way that is meaningful and appropriate. This is half of their final exam grade, and will take place during our final exam block, so we have a bigger chunk of time. As a whole, our class will decide what is most important to teach them, and then we will divide into small groups so that we are ready for stations in the classrooms. Each group will then figure out the best activities, ways to present, accommodations needed, etc., based on what they have learned in my classroom during our earlier discussions. Again, I am very fortunate that my colleagues in the special needs unit are so excited to partner with me, and one of them is also coming to talk to my kids and meet with them in groups to go over their plan and give them some feedback, so they can tweak as needed for optimal success all around. Then, we will do a practice round to make sure everyone is ready, comfortable, and excited, and away we will go!
I cannot tell you how excited I am for this project, to get us learning and sharing, building a stronger community within the schools, and giving my students a taste of teaching. My students are also super excited, and my colleagues have been overwhelmingly supportive of all of my questions, coordinating our schedules, and giving me great advice to pass on to my students. They are beyond thrilled to be able to partner with us and to offer this opportunity to their students, just as I am.
If you are looking to take your classes to the next level, I encourage you to check out the sustainable development goals and see what calls your attention, and what things you can do to help your students be a part of it! They are just so easy to incorporate into our classrooms, as many of the goals are topics that world language teachers cover in class anyway, we can just add this twist to make them more meaningful. Also, be sure to look for meaningful professional development to help you grow as a teacher and brainstorm with colleagues. Our mini-conference in July will help you do just that-don’t be fooled, giving up one Saturday of your summer will be hugely beneficial to you and your students come fall! Thanks again to all of you at Central States who helped me get those creative gears going to make this unit possible!