About the Learning Scenarios
These learning scenarios are examples of thematic, integrative units of study based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Languages Other Than English (TEKS for LOTE). They consist of student-centered activities designed to support language development as students explore culturally relevant themes using authentic, contextualized target-language texts, audio/video, theatre, Web sites, and other media. Developed by Texas teachers of LOTE, these scenarios begin with high interest topics that stimulate creativity and encourage divergent thinking. Many of the activities through which the topics are explored provide options to address differentiated learning styles, multiple intelligences, and individual teaching styles. Teachers are encouraged to review all of the scenarios, not just the ones for the language(s) they teach. Many of the themes are universal, and activities may be modified to address issues particular to a given language and culture.
A Word on Grammar
Although the tasks found in these learning scenarios would be impossible to complete in any meaningful way if students did not practice related grammar, the primary goal of this resource is to demonstrate innovative ways of incorporating standards into classroom instruction. While many teachers are already using thematic units of study, scenario authors were asked to think beyond the topics routinely introduced in textbooks. Grammar is implicitly embedded in the activities. However, instructional strategies are left up to individual teachers, as they can best identify the appropriate vocabulary and structures to introduce or review relative to the language being taught and students' proficiency level.
Target Language Use
How much of the instruction and classroom activities are in the target language is an important consideration. Ideally, the target language should be used as much as possible, given appropriate expectations for students' proficiency level. Certainly, students must employ the language for communicative purposes to develop listening and speaking skills. However, certain elements of the TEKS, such as cultural perspectives, may be difficult to discuss with novice learners. The importance of addressing all five Program Goals warrants the use of English when necessary in such instances.
Each learning scenario suggests at least one end product (an oral presentation, a portfolio, a written story, etc.) that can be used for evaluation purposes. In addition, the various activity sets within the scenario frequently describe tasks and mini-products (charts, diagrams, illustrations, mini-reports, journal entries, etc.) that can serve a similar purpose if desired. Naturally the vocabulary and structures that the teacher chooses to introduce and/or review will also be assessed both globally and discretely for formative and summative purposes. The most important consideration is that students be evaluated on what they have learned using methods that reflect how they have learned it. On-going evaluation using a variety of assessment modes (performance-based, discrete-point, portfolio, written, oral, peer and self-evaluation to name a few) provides a clearer picture of the learners progress in meeting goals.
Adaptability is an essential component of these scenarios, which is why no time frame is indicated and level appropriateness is generally presented as a range. Depending on the topic, available resources, and which activities the teacher chooses to include or expand upon, instruction may consume as little as one to two weeks of class time or extend over the course of an entire semester. Some scenarios were designed for elementary students and others for secondary students at the novice, intermediate, and advanced levels. However, by taking into consideration the learner expectations for each level, experienced teachers should have no trouble scaling activities up or down to suit their needs. (See Progress Checkpoints and Program Goals for background information about proficiency levels and performance expectations.)
Organization of the Scenarios
In addition to the activity sets, each scenario includes the following sections:
Targeted Standards: Includes links to information about the particular standards targeted. In general, the majority of scenarios touch upon aspects of all the standards, with some activities specifically addressing particular goals. For in-depth information about the TEKS for LOTE, see About the Standards.
Materials: Lists the basic materials necessary to implement the scenario. As teachers adapt the activities to their own needs, they may substitute or include other materials as necessary.
Reflections on How the Standards are Met: Briefly explains how particular activities within the scenarios address specific elements of the TEKS for LOTE.
Expansion Ideas: Suggests options for those who want to spend more time investigating a topic, sometimes including ways to adapt activity sets to different proficiency levels.
Resources: Though not meant to be exhaustive, this section provides examples of the kinds of texts that can be useful for exploring the scenarios theme. Internet resources, in particular, may change or no longer be available. Because the LOTE CED has no control over the content of other Web sites, each one should be carefully screened before recommending it to students.