Blog post written by Melisa Lopez

The end goal for all of our efforts as teachers is for our students to be able to understand authentic resources. The problem is that most of the authentic resources that are available just aren’t accessible to our students. We don’t want to make them feel like failures, so how can we curate resources to promote language acquisition? Kristy Placido’s session at iFLT was a great eye-opener for how to scaffold authentic resources to make our students feel successful!

When looking at an authentic resource as it exists, Kristy reminded us that sometimes the language used is incomprehensible, irrelevant, overwhelming, or the resources is simply not engaging. We want students to have a good experience using authentic resources, but we need to shelter them just a bit to fit a specific purpose that we have for them within our classroom.

Kristy Placido shares how she brings authentic resources into her lessons

Kristy Placido shares how she brings authentic resources into her lessons

Kristy gave us steps to utilize the resources that we find as we have literally millions of resources at our fingertips via the internet and social media. Once we come across an authentic resource, Kristy said that it’s important to know how that resource is going to be used first. Through backwards planning, we need to ask ourselves what is the purpose of using the resource. Are we wanting our students to understand a practice, product or perspective? Do we want them to learn content?

After deciding what you want students to get out of the authentic resource that you’ve found, Kristy suggested that it’s best to identify the theme of what you want students to learn. Is there an anchor text that you can use to have the authentic resource branch out from? This text doesn’t have to be authentic! Fluency Matters readers offer a great source of texts that can be used as a bridge to the authentic resource that you’ve found! Next, identify what skills or knowledge you want students to take away and decide how you want to assess those skills. (See the post on Carrie Toth’s session “Assess with Finesse”!)

When looking for an authentic resource, Kristy gave some great pointers to use while searching the internet. She suggested to cast a wide net when searching in the target language, use other teachers for help, and be open to various forms of media. You might find audio files, videos, news articles, infographics or even music that fits your theme!

If you’ve chosen a video, you could use EdPuzzle to create an interpretive assessment. However, if the video is really incomprehensible, Kristy creates a comprehensible teacher-led story that uses the images in the video. While the narrative might not be completely “authentic”, the images in the video are! As a result, you can also use authentic images such as art or photography from the target language. By creating a discussion in language that’s comprehensible, the authentic resources can have the ability to inspire students to find similar authentic resources outside of class time.

Kristy also uses Twitter as a resource for short comprehensible readings! Search for a hashtag related to the topic, and students can read through tweets that are accessible. Just make sure that the tweets are appropriate, of course.

As teachers, we love authentic resources and have a great passion for wanting them to be present in our curriculum. However, Kristy noted that while the resource may seem to be super exciting for students in the beginning, that excitement can wear out due to lack of comprehension. We don’t want our students to give up because they can’t understand something! We, as teachers, have the ability to scaffold and use techniques such as movie talk, graphic novels, and embedded readings to create a big impact on students. Don’t feel like you have to use the whole resource either! If there is an article that’s three pages long, take a portion of it and just talk about that instead of wading through the whole article.

There are many ways that we can use authentic resources to help add world connections for our students, but authentic resources are only powerful if they are comprehensible!  Students can feel empowered and be successful with authentic resources using all sorts of CI methods! As Kristy said, “Spark joy in your classroom with authentic resources!”

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