One of the foundational materials of the Montessori elementary curriculum is Fundamental Needs of Humans. I think this can be a gold mine for WL teachers. This material focuses on the interconnectedness of people and their needs- a great base when broaching global citizenship with elementary aged children. At my school, children participate in Trick or Treat for Unicef, and I thought this to be an untapped opportunity for Spanish class.
What did we do?
- I volunteered the Spanish department (OK, that's me and a part time assistant teacher) to sponsor our school's elementary-middle school Trick or Treat for UNICEF efforts. (Can you say positive PR for WL?) That meant that I was responsible for ordering the trick or treat boxes, distributing them, collecting the funds and sending them in.
- We adapted some of the Trick or Treat teaching materials to Spanish and tapped UNICEF España for back up here: Check out their Pinterest Board. I had to accept that there would be some English use in this-UNICEF has amazing videos, in English, to help explore the challenges children in the world face around water, nutrition, education and health. However, the majority of the materials are great for adapting to the TL, and UNICEF produces all kinds of child friendly teaching materials, in a variety of languages, including these video clips and games from the UNICEF-Pocoyo partnership on los derechos del niño.
- Something that really helped was partnering with the homeroom teachers to take care of the business that would have been too advanced for our students in the TL, creating a great tie between Spanish class and the homeroom. This was a school-wide effort-children from kindergarten through middle school worked on this in Spanish classes. (Below was used with K-6)
UNICEF offers lesson plans on their website-with photos perfect for describing and discussing. We used many of these photos to create flashcards with needs in Spanish: bomba de agua, vacunas, nutrición, etc. At the beginning of the unit, we used these to teach new vocab, but in combination with photos of videojuegos, dulces, juguetes, etc, we asked the children to start categorizing and thinking about whether something is a need or a want. Simple language: ¿Es necesario? o ¿No es necesario?
While considering what's necessary we introduced the question about what children might be lacking in places around the world(geography connection!). I never want to pose problems to the children in which they feel helpless-this is why I love this program, because the children can develop awareness of needs in the world AND take action in an age appropriate way.
During Spanish classes, we set goals based on these graphics:
(photo below)This part was done in the homeroom, then the information could be used in Spanish class-talking about how much money was raised and then what material support could be provided: # de vacunas, bombas de agua, protección contra malaria, etc).
This first go was a lot of work, but in subsequent years, it will get easier and more automated for us, and well worth the preparation.
In the end, children(in the TL) can:
1) Identify needs, wants
2) Identify challenges in the world to meeting needs
3) Identify and suggest solutions to these challenges
4) Name/find places on a map that are mentioned in lessons
5) Talk about which materials goods (and how much) they were able to provide