Graduate project

Culturally Sustaining Curriculum for Spanish Heritage Learners at the Secondary Level

All students need their teachers to implement culturally sustaining curricula specifically targeted to their needs. Unfortunately, this need is not always met, especially with minority students. This project seeks to address the needs of Spanish heritage language learners at the high school level; it consists of a unit of study developed specifically to help meet the needs of these heritage language learners by helping them learn about their own heritage culture while strengthening their academic language skills in Spanish. Students first explore important historical figures that helped shape the Hispanic world, and practice and improve their oracy skills by creating and delivering a presentation. Then, the unit strengthens students’ written language by guiding them to create persuasive paragraphs and then an essay. The topics that pertain to persuasive writing include La Quinceañera and the Dream Act. The unit concludes with an extension activity that asks students to write a letter to Congress in favor of the Dream Act, DACA or another social cause of their choice, as instilling sociopolitical consciousness in students is another goal of this project. Students utilize what they learned about persuasion to write their letters. The unit employs the SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) and the TLC (Teaching and Learning Cycle) methods to make the content accessible and create scaffolds along the way. Research needs to be conducted to determine the curriculum’s effectiveness on improving student self-image, self-confidence in the language skills, and to measure the impact of sociopolitical consciousness in students.

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