Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Foreign Languages K–12

A Library of Classroom Practices

Italian: U.S. and Italian Homes
Class Context
- Marylee DiGennaro

Students are very curious about culture. Making connections to that culture and comparisons between theirs and ours is very important for them. The language that they're learning right now might not continue with them for the rest of their lives, but information about the culture and an appreciation for the culture might.

- Marylee DiGennaro

Year at a Glance
Going to School in Italy
Living in Italy: Dwellings and Furnishings
Living in Italy: Family
Living in Italy: Daily Activities in the Home
Family Gatherings
  • Birthdays, celebrations, and holidays
Gift-Giving and Receiving; Shopping
Food Shopping
Italian Restaurants/Bars and Meals
Going Out to Eat
Planning for a Vacation

School Profile
Marylee DiGennaro teaches Italian II-V at North Haven High School in North Haven, Connecticut. The community's 24,000 residents are mostly professionals, and a large percentage are Italian American. As a result, many of North Haven High School's 1,045 students choose to study Italian. The school also offers Spanish, Latin, and French as part of its college-preparatory curriculum.

Lesson Design
The World Languages Department at North Haven High School uses a thematic curriculum based on the Standards. Ms. DiGennaro sequences these thematic units for her class based on her students' interests and events that occur at particular times of the year (for example, holidays). Using a textbook as a springboard, she designs each lesson to include cultural issues and to address different learning styles. Ms. DiGennaro also offers students multiple opportunities to communicate with her, with each other, and with students from other countries. "It's not just having them learn something," she says, "but also be able to use it in a situation that might happen in another country in real life."

The Lesson
In the videotaped lesson, students participated in multiple activities using vocabulary about the home. To reinforce the lesson and further explore cultural connections, the students prepared to use their new vocabulary in an ongoing email exchange with students in Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia, Italy. Prior to this school year, Ms. DiGennaro searched online for Italian high schools with email addresses. She contacted several schools and found Cagliari had a high school class whose students were studying English and were interested in corresponding. As a regular part of their lessons, Ms. DiGennaro's students correspond one-on-one with the Italian students, who give them information about the topic they are studying. "I think it was nice for them to have that input from someone other than me," she says.

Key Teaching Strategies
  • Appealing to Multiple Intelligences: The teacher incorporates different nonverbal approaches, such as bodily/kinesthetic and musical/rhythmic ones, into lessons.
  • Providing Interactions With Native Speakers: The teacher designs opportunities for students to use the target language with native speakers, either in person, over the phone, or via email.
  • Visualizing Vocabulary: The teacher uses visuals to establish concrete images of vocabulary and to help students remember the terms.

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