I have talked about the model I use for pacing, the Two Week Model, in other posts so this time I would like to talk about the curriculum piece. Where do you start when you have to design your own course from scratch? Here is some advice I would offer to teachers in this position:
1. Start at the End - ultimately, you need to start with that end picture in mind. What do you really want your students to be able to do at the end of the course? A good place to find these ending points is within the ACTFL "I Can" statements and progress indicators. Most states have their own version of World Language standards, but more times than not they are taken directly from the ACTFL ones which, in my opinion are easier to use, so I stick with those.
2. Use Themes - themes put the skills that you are trying to get students to acquire into a useable context. As you look through the ACTFL "I Can" statements, start to think about ideas you have for what themes those might fall into. You probably want to stick to about 4 themes per quarter of instruction if you are following a two week model.
Here is an example of my themes for my Spanish 2 class. Many of the themes carry over from Spanish 1, but the expectations for what students can do within those themes is different.
4. Write the Assessment First - before you even begin writing lesson plans, you should develop the assessment. Use your ACTFL "I Can" statements as a guide. This will keep you on track in your lessons so that you make sure you are teaching what you really intended to. Integrated Performance Assessments are the trend in World Language right now because they look at all skill areas. Click here to see some examples of IPA's that I have developed and use.
5. Don't forget Culture - so many teachers don't include culture as a regular part of their course which, in my opinion, is a big mistake. I'm not sure if it's because it is hard for people to find a tie between the idea of culture and the actual mechanics of the language or if it's because of more limited resources, but the cultural piece is one of the most valuable ones you can provide your students. As technology continues to advance, translators, Google Glasses, and the like may make some of the things we do irrelevant. However, teaching people how to understand others perspectives and practices will always be important for the world.