Friday, November 2, 2012

How we handle Dia de los Muertos, in French class!

I am not a teacher of Spanish so dealing with day of the dead is not typically part of my cultural component in French class but, my partner in foreign language crime and I started a tradition a decade ago that we are happy to say continues to this day.

Every year, we build a cemetery in either the library or the courtyard (depending on the weather of course). Each of us require our students to write obituaries in the target language for themselves but not typical ones- comical ones. We also select a few teachers each year to add to the cemetery. We make tombstones for each and draw pictures and make them fancy. Their methods of "death" are often odd (the typing teacher died if key stroke, the librarian died of bookworms etc.) The kids do help write up the tombstones and the teachers are begging to get in.

How do we assess this? I use it as a writing grade and I also have my early level students figure out the tombs and answer questions. Some of the information is historical in nature- for example, Marie Antoinette and Edgar Allan Poe are included. The language related history is phenomenal and the kids leave learning a little bit about famous people who influenced language and history.

I love the reactions when kids walk into the library and see the tombs and the response as they scramble to see which teacher made it this year or which senior was lucky enough to go in.

The project is a process but, the outcome is really worth the time. If you are interested in any information about this project, you can access some of my files from the IFLTA conference a few years back. I will post those as soon as I track them down.

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