Jacana Jacana and the Wildcats

In September, I received a notification that my class had been selected for the National Geographic Educator Explorer Exchange 2018/2019. I was SO excited. My Nat Geo certification has had so many perks for my students!! In the “pairing” stage, I had to give some topics that I’d be interested in studying with my Explorer partner. I, of course, said Spanish and the environment!

Nat Geo paired me with Janni Benavides of the Colombian group Jacana Jacana (a jacana is a tropical bird FYI). Our job throughout the year was to stay in contact, teach each other new things, and create some type of a ‘deliverable’ for NatGeo.

This music is perfect for level 2-AP learners! #authres

From Janni, we learned a ton about the rainforest, the dry tropical forest, and the cloud forest. From us, Janni and her homeschool elementary students, learned Baby Shark, learned about the difference in the woods in IL in the fall and in the winter, and we recorded three of Jacana Jacana’s songs in English to help reach both Spanish and English speakers!

Janni was so patient as my students tried first to learn to play the songs on the guitar and then then on the Ukulele! She met us on Skype and told the class about her home, her favorite birds, and her students’ experience in the different community homes participating in the home school program!

My students were so excited as they got to use their new language to communicate with both Janni and her students! Not a contrived situation, a real world experience using the language!

It’s not quite Colombia, but it will do!

We had our failures! Like when I forgot we had sprung forward and we got all set to Skype and Janni wasn’t online… because we were an hour early! We made due with Sr. Wooly that day…

If you can’t reach your first choice… 🙂

These are our final video products. The kids did all the lyric translations and learned to play and sing the new lyrics to the tune of the original songs! Thank you, Nat Geo Education for such an amazing exchange and Janni for your patience and generosity with my seniors!

Titi cabeciblanco

Insectos

El bosque seco

Jacana Jacana’s music is a perfect authentic piece to add to your environmental unit because it is easy for students to understand and to sing! I’m hoping to be able to work on the cloud forest song with my incoming seniors in the fall! Just because the exchange is over doesn’t mean it has to end!!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at gmail.com.

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