Are you looking for ways to add culture to your Spanish class? Are you passionate about Hispanic culture and want to share that passion with your students? Do you value the importance of teaching culture but are unsure of how to “fit” it into your already-packed curriculum? Do you need a routine to help class start smoothly, but you’re tired of writing warm ups or bell ringers each day? Let me tell you about how I was able to accomplish adding more meaningful culture to my Spanish classes while helping establish a beginning of class routine.
I was in this dilemma about 8 years ago. I was passionate about all things culture-related and struggled with how to share everything I love about Hispanic culture with my students while also teaching vocabulary, practicing grammar, and working on understanding and communicating in the target language.
I came up with the idea to teach a culture fact each day of the school year. I made a list of countries, holidays, celebrations, and other topics I wanted to cover. Every Friday during my planning period, I would look up 5 interesting facts for each topic to teach for the following week and I would find a couple of relevant photos or short video clips.
I learned so many interesting things from my research! I ended up with a Word document with facts and another Word document of photos that looked like this. I had one page per week and stored them with the printed and laminated photos in sheet protectors in a giant binder.
I had a small white board in my class where I would write the Cultura Diaria each day. Students would come into class and start copying the Cultura Diaria while I checked attendance and handled any other housekeeping tasks. Because it was on the board when they entered the classroom, they knew exactly what to do and I didn’t have to spend time trying to settle them down to start class. We would have a brief (1-2 minute) discussion where I would show them the photos I had printed and/or show a quick video clip. For example, one of the facts for Argentina is “The modern-day tango originated and was popularized in Argentina” so I would show a quick video clip of people dancing the tango.
Students wrote their Cultura Diaria in a separate section of their notebooks. To keep them accountable for copying the Cultura Diaria each day, I would give them a quarterly open-note quiz over the Cultura Diaria. If they had copied them all, it was an easy grade for them.
Cultura Diaria Evolves...
My Cultura Diaria evolved when I finally got a classroom with an LCD projector! Instead of having to hand-write the daily fact on the whiteboard, I made a PowerPoint presentation. Since making 170 slides is a big task, once again I broke it up and on Fridays created my 5 slides for the next week. This is what they looked like:
These were easier to read and once the presentation was done, I was able to use it for the following years without any additional work!
Recently, I came up with another idea to make the Cultura Diaria even more meaningful and useful. I decided to add relevant photos to the backgrounds of each slide. It was a long process of using my own photographs, finding and buying other images, and changing all of the fonts so that they were easy to read on the slide. It was a lot of work, but I think they turned out great: