I am the sort of person who is always coming up with quirky little ideas about how I want to present material. If you've read the blog for awhile, you know what I mean. Mobiles, graphic organizers, artsy projects, whacky card games. I like to mix it up because I think it keeps the kids interested and it plays to everyone's strengths.
But it seems to me that whenever I come up with some particularly clever idea, someone is always lurking in the background with a sneer and the same negative comment, "It's not communicative."
Here's how it goes:
Me: I am going to have the students do a self-portrait in the style of Pablo Picasso. They will look over dozens of his paintings to understand his style and how it changed from period to period. Then they will make it personal by depicting themselves in that style. Sounds great, right?
Nicolás el Negativo: "It's not communicative."
Me: We will organize our vocabulary into color-coordinated charts to show which words refer to people, which ones refer to places, which ones are actions, and which ones are descriptive. Then students will have a visual reference to help them understand underlying sentence structure. Isn't that a great learning tool?
Nicolás el Negativo: Well, it's okay but it's not communicative.
Me: We are going to reenact the posadas, learn traditional carols, make traditional foods, dress up in costume and have a fiesta. I even know someone who will lend us use a donkey. Isn't that amazing?!
Nicolás el Negativo: Not very communicative though, is it?
And on and on and on . . . .
Makes me crazy.
My most fun, creative, interesting, and engaging lessons are sometimes not communicative. So what should I do?
The answer came to me at FLANC while I was attending a creativity workshop. Susan Navey-Davis, a Spanish professor at my alma mater NC State, was talking about a creative project her students did and she was showing us some fabulous student work. I was impressed and I was thoroughly enjoying myself when, all of a sudden, that same old obnoxious objection is raised at the back of the room. "But, it's not communicative."
Without wasting a breath, Susan answered back with wisdom and gave me freedom forever from those naysayers. "We don't have to have ALL the 5 Cs in every lesson."
The shackles fell away and I drew a breath of fresh air. We don't have to have all 5 Cs in every lesson? No, we don't! I can focus on Connections, Culture, Community, and Comparisons too. Communication is very very important, but there are other things that we are supposed to be teaching as well. I finally have my answer to those negative voices with their criticism and intolerance.