Module 5: Case Studies and Final Project

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Go to Course Introduction Adapting Curriculum to Heritage Speakers

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Module Overview

HS module 5.jpg

During this week, you will demonstrate the skills and attitudes you acquire in the context of a case study exercise.

After you complete all the readings and assignments for this module, you will be able to:

Analyze three case studies describing the academic background of a high school student in a Spanish classroom and write a brief explaining a recommended teaching strategy for each student Explain why each student in the case study should be considered a Heritage speaker or second language speaker

Describe what assessment tool would be used to determine language skill levels of hypothetical students Design a short individualized curriculum for each hypothetical student Develop the confidence to teach a Spanish class at two different skill levels simultaneously


Review HLLs School Administrators Template Blueprint Review each one of the entries in your digital journal so you can observe how you develop your understanding of the complex topic of "Differentiated instruction of HLLs".


Stories from a high school HLLs classroom


1 - Organize the entries in your digital journal and incorporate your ideas to the powerpoint template. Practice presenting your ideas to educators at your school and/or other institutions. If interested, feel free to share with other HLLs educators in our Google classroom.

2 - Analyze Case Studies (Evelyn, Jose, and Robert) and answer the questions related to HLLs identification, creation of individualized learning plans, and formative assessment ideas. Compile all your answers in a portfolio. If interested, share your analysis with other students in our Google classroom.

3 - Leave a comment about your experience going through this teacher's training in our Facebook group page so we can continue improving the experience of future students. Thanks!

Case Studies

The reading and activities presented to you in this first module provided you with an opportunity to start thinking about what it means to be a Spanish heritage speaker and help you understand how the academic needs of this group of students might be different than the needs of the average student in your Spanish class. Now is time to start planning how you could help heritage students in your class reach their full academic potential. To make this process more engaging, we will work on three case studies with the goal of creating an individualized curriculum for the students listed below. Please review their files and become familiar with each case study so you can write a full report on each one of these students explaining your ideas for a differentiated curriculum that uses a project-based approach.



Evelyn was born in Antigua, Guatemala and she immigrated with her parents to the United States when she was six months old. Her family was politically persecuted in Guatemala and came to the United States as political refugees. They settled in Durham, North Carolina and have been living there for the last fifteen years. Evelyn is an outgoing teenager and enjoys being involved in sports and after-school activities. From the first day of class, Evelyn has shown a lot of pride to call herself Guatemalan and she is always excited to talk to you in Spanish even if the other kids in the class can’t understand anything she is saying. In fact, you have a difficult time understanding what she says since she uses certain slang you have never heard before when you lived in Spain as a study abroad student. Assume that you are Evelyn's Spanish teacher. You are wondering if Evelyn should be given differentiated Spanish assignments or allowed to just spend the Spanish class time reading a book or working on assignments for other classes. What course of action would you recommend in this case?



Jose was born in a small town in Paraguay, called Ipacarai. He is the youngest of six siblings. Jose’s birth mother couldn’t afford to feed her children so she decided to put them up for adoption. She loved her children very much and asked the adoptive parents to keep in touch with her and send her pictures of the kids every year. She also asked that the kids be taught about their birth country so they could have an appreciation for their heritage. Anne has lived in Ohio all her life and adopted Jose when he was two years old. Anne doesn’t speak Spanish but has made an effort to teach Jose songs in Spanish and has decorated his bedroom with traditional art from Paraguay. She also cooks dishes from Paraguay for him and talks to his birth mother once a year. Since Anne works full time, growing up Jose was cared for by a Spanish speaking nanny who used to pick up Jose from school and stayed with him every afternoon for four hours. Jose is now in 9th grade. Imagine that you teach Spanish in grades 9-12. Do you think that Jose should receive differentiated Spanish instruction based on the information you have about him? Have you been given enough data to classify Jose as a Heritage speaker? Is there any other kind of information that you would like to have in the file?



Robert was born in Palo Alto, California. Robert’s mom immigrated to the United States from Monterey, Mexico. She met Robert’s father in graduate school at the University of California in Berkeley and they got married a few years after that. Robert grew up hearing both English and Spanish at home. The family lives in Palo Alto, near San Francisco. They live in a suburb where most families only speak English. Once a month, Robert’s mom takes him out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant in the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. Robert is able to order his food in Spanish and can usually answer questions in Spanish from the restaurant’s staff. Seeing Robert interact in Spanish with members of the Mexican community makes Robert’s mom very proud since at home he refuses to speak in Spanish with her parents or younger siblings. Robert goes to Mexico every year in the Summer to visit his grandmother who lives in Monterrey. After you review his file, you are wondering if Robert should receive differentiated instruction in your Spanish classroom in preparation to enter college in a couple of years. What are your thoughts?

Organizing your Heritage Spanish Teaching Portfolio

The time to work on your Student portfolio is finally here! You can organize your work in any way you like. Feel free to present your findings in the form of a written document, an oral presentation or a combination of short essays, mind maps and charts.

Identify HLLs

Before you start working on this section of your portfolio, you might want to review what you learned in module 1. You will look at the definition of what constitutes a "heritage speaker" and make a determination for each one of the students in your case studies in this regard. If you think that the student can be identified as a HLL, then you can proceed to explain the reasoning behind making that determination. Make sure to include a section on what diagnostic tools you would use to assess the level of Spanish language skills your HLLs possess.

Propose a PBL curriculum

After you identified one or all of the students as HLLs, your next task will be to create a personalized instruction plan using a project-based approach. Before you start working on this section you might want to review module 3. You can go into as much detail as you want. The work you do for your portfolio is going to facilitate your teaching in the future. You should choose an instructional design that feels familiar to you and that you can easily follow in your classroom.

Develop a Formative Assessment Plan

Now that you have the individualized learning program in place for each one of the HLLs in your portfolio, it is time to develop a formative assessment plan to help you evaluate the students progress and to collect feedback on what needs to be adjusted in the instruction. Before you start working on this section you might want to review module 4. If you think is necessary, you can also explain what kind of summative assessment tool you would use.

Presenting your ideas at your institution

Having the support of your school administrators is key in developing programs for HLLs. This is the reason why part of this final project involves preparing a presentation in which you explain your vision for developing a HLL at your institution.

Written Outline

Below you will find a template to help you create a power point presentation that summarizes the main ideas we discussed in this training. You can insert your personal views in the different sections and add any information that you consider relevant to share with your school about HLLs. The main purpose of preparing this document is to help you practice what it would be like to advocate for the creation of a HLL individualized program.

File:Heritage Speakers-Final Project Template.pdf

Oral Presentation

After you finish preparing your powerpoint presentation, you can proceed to record a voiceover (in the form of a screen capture along with audio or a powerpoint with audio on each individual slide).

Click the link below to read an explanation of how to record audio on a power point presentation:

Record audio on power point presentation

Sharing your ideas and teaching practices with other teachers

Congratulations! You completed the last module of our program. Thanks for contributing your efforts towards creating better opportunities to empower HLLs.

You now have a variety of new tools to transform your Spanish classroom. Before you go, we want to leave you with a few recommendations and an inspiring video.

The first recommendation is to share what you are learning in your teaching practice with other language professionals. We can learn a lot from each other and counting on the support from our colleagues is very important in our professional growth. Feel free to visit our Facebook group to leave comments or questions or go to our Google classroom and post your presentation or student portfolio for other participants to see. Second, be sure to start a conversation with your school administrators about how to create a learning environment that supports HLLs as much as second language learners. Finally, make sure you give yourself the chance to try new things, make a few mistakes and learn from them. The field of HLL teaching and learning is a young academic field so don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas.

And now, here is a teacher interview that showcases what is possible in the HLL classroom.

Watch this interesting video and get inspired by the stories of how a HLL teacher and her students created a learning community that feels like family. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta pronto!

Our Facebook group

Click below to request access to our closed Facebook group.

In this online space, you will have a chance to ask quick questions, share inspiring stories and articles and connect with other members of our learning community.

Our Google classroom collaborative learning space

You will have the opportunity to connect with me and other participants in our Google classroom (your classroom code is: xjnelz9). Use this Google classroom to ask questions and interact with other members of the Spanish teaching and learning community.

Groups and Organizations

Here are just a few of the organizations you can join to continue learning about the fascinating academic field of Heritage Language Teaching:

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese

The UCLA National Heritage Language Resource Center


STARTALK Workshop for Heritage Language Instructors

Next Steps

To review the concepts you learned in any of the modules go to:

Module 1: Defining Heritage Speakers

Module 2: In-Class Assessment of Heritage Speakers

Module 3: Creating Individualized Curriculum

Module 4: Measuring Heritage Speakers' Progress