Using cultural artifacts in the language classroom


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Course Introduction:

In education, there are many new ways to get students engaged in learning. Cultural artifacts can create this same engagement in various levels, even in a school that might have limited funding or materials. Cultural artifacts can be used in any lesson activity, pre or post assessment, to further develop an idea or topic, to make real life connections to a lesson topic, or even to engage students in a lively discussion or small group activity. These examples are limited to the language classroom, they are in essence a never ending pool of materials at the fingertips of any teacher willing to learn how they can best be used in a lesson or unit activity.

Below, you will find a video showing the benefits of bringing artifacts into the learning environment. The three teachers in the video use the arts to develop all levels of activities in all areas of learning. By bringing these types of hands-on learning tools into the classroom, the learners have a chance to change how they perceive their own education and the school environment as a whole.

Watch this video below to begin your journey into the world of cultural artifacts in the learning environment!

Overview and Purpose

Purpose of this Course:

This course was created to support educators in the process of gaining knowledge about cultural artifacts, what they can look like, how they can be implemented in lesson plans, and what makes a successful and engaging lesson plan using these types of artifacts. With a vast variety of sources available to educators today, this course will assist them in learning how to properly use one of these resources in a relaxed yet engaging fashion.

Through small group discussions, scholarly article readings, cultural artifact research and analysis, a short quiz about cultural artifacts, a sample lesson plan study, the creation of their own lesson plans and course reflections, participants will be able to fully understand and use cultural artifacts in the learning environment.

Prerequisites of course:

Participants will be required to have previous knowledge of creating basic lesson plans, a good understanding about their subject matter, knowledge about how to use a computer and maneuver a computer learning course. They must also have access to a computer, internet, a printer, a search engine, speakers, and a way to save their work.

Needs Assessment

Instructional Problem

Often times in teaching, getting kids motivated to learn a new language can be a difficult task. Creating an environment that is engaging and motivating to language learners can be done by the addition of cultural artifacts that provide a visual stimulant for the language learners. In “The student perception of visual arts in the speaking classroom”(Bayri,2010) it is discussed that “the use of works of art as authentic cultural artifacts of the language is not a common practice for motivating students in the speaking classroom.” which is an unfortunate reality in some language classrooms of today. In creating this mini-course I intend to help participants to better understand the proper usage and importance of using cultural artifacts in the language classroom in order to garner better results for their students as well as higher levels of success in language acquisition.

Cultural artifacts are not limited to the use of visual arts. Participants will better understand how to use all manner of cultural artifacts in lesson plans to support grammar lessons and various levels of reading and listening comprehension. Unfortunately, with the current focus on data and assessments, many language teachers are using their teaching time to focus on knowledge that is needed for passing assessments rather than utilizing the time to also focus on the long term language usage of the learner outside of the classroom environment. By adding cultural artifacts to the learning process, participants can not only create a learning environment that is conducive to long term language usage but they can also fulfill their requirements for more successful assessment results.

Goals of mini-course

The main goal of this mini-course is to allow participants to gain a better understanding of what cultural artifacts are and how they can help support learning of a new language in a learning environment. This mini-course will also support participants in the learning of creating lesson plans and assessments that support cultural artifact usage for the sake of learning a new language.

Performance Objectives

  • Given an introduction on cultural artifacts, learners will gain a better understanding of what these are and how they can support the language learning process.
  • Given a sample lesson plan, learners will be able to consider how a cultural artifact can affect a lesson and the learning process.
  • Given an artifact, learners will develop a short reflection on an observation sheet describing the importance of that artifact to show understanding of an artifact.
  • Given article readings, small group discussions and reflections, learners will analyze and deduce possible solutions and /or conclusions to pros and cons of using artifacts for learning a new language.
  • Given a final project, learners will be able to create their own lesson plan using cultural artifacts based on their learning throughout the mini-course.

Course Units and Lessons

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: Introduction to Cultural Artifacts

Lesson 1: In the first half of this unit, participants will learn the meaning of culture and cultural artifacts. Participants will complete an article reading, watch a video, reflect individually on both video and readings by using guiding questions, complete a short quiz and start to think about a topic and cultural artifacts to be used in the final portion of this mini course.

Lesson 2: In the second half of this unit, participants will consider the pros and cons of teaching with cultural artifacts. Participants will review articles and videos, participate in a small discussion with other participants on a given topic that is based on the readings, and then complete an individual reflection on the pros and cons of using cultural artifacts by utilizing guiding questions.

Unit 2: Utilizing Cultural Artifacts in the Classroom

Lesson 3: In the first half of this unit, participants will review both the positive and negative effects of teaching with cultural artifacts. Participants will complete readings/videos, select a personal cultural artifact sample to analyze, complete an observation sheet based on that artifact, and write a brief reflection on their findings. Participants will also select their topic for their final assessment (a lesson plan) in the mini course. They will develop a rationale and consider possible cultural artifacts to use in their lesson plan.

Lesson 4: In this last section of the course, participants will be creating their own lesson plans based on a topic of their own choice and by using their chosen cultural artifacts in the previous lesson. Lesson plans must include 1-2 artifacts, a rubric, and sample assessments. Participants will also review a sample lesson plan that uses cultural artifacts within a given reading and then reflect on it by completing a fact/opinion sheet to give factual examples from the reading and also give their opinion.

Cultural artifacts: Traditional Instruments

Extended Resources

Bayri, G. The Student Perception of Visual Arts in the Speaking Classroom.