Hi! I’m Jen from the blog Spanish with Sra. Shaw. By far the most popular of my blog posts has been a 6-part series about how IPAs (Integrated Performance Assessments) transformed my classroom. As more districts move toward proficiency-based curricula, IPAs seem to be an ever-increasing topic of discussion and a source of frustration for teachers as they begin to create these uniquely-styled assessments, which is why I wanted to help.
I initially set out out to write the IPA blog posts to support my colleagues as they began using these assessments in their classrooms. Specifically, I wrote about the background of IPAs and made suggestions on how to create, manage, and break down each of the 3 performance tasks (interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational) with the hope of clarifying each task and giving examples that would help teachers to envision activities that would fit their units.
The response from readers and fellow teachers was much different than I expected. First, I was surprised that anyone on earth would want to read my blog at all. I had anticipated perhaps some questions about the interpersonal task, which people seem to find to be the most challenging. However, what I found instead was that people wanted to know more about where to find authentic resources to create the interpretive task. I’ve found this as this seems to be a major stumbling block for teachers implementing IPAs, which is why I’m writing this post.
If you’ve ever looked for the perfect video, photo, or audio clip, you understand. I do not exaggerate when I say I’ve spent entire days (honestly, perhaps weeks) of my life looking for the perfect authentic resource. It’s so incredibly easy to fall into a black hole scouring the internet for just the right video clip because you can just keep looking, and looking, and looking. Also, it doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist about authentic resources because I insist they are 100% authentic and were created by a native speaker for a native audience. If not, I won’t use it. I actually could write an entire blog post about how to choose an appropriate authentic resource, but that’s another topic for a different day and the amazing Julie from Mundo de Pepita has already written a really helpful post about it here.
Who wants to waste valuable time looking for authentic resources? Today I’m here to share some tips to help you find the perfect resource quickly and efficiently.
Tip #1: Search in the Target Language (TL)
If you haven’t tried searching for an authentic resource in the target language, make this your first priority. If you search in English, you’ll mostly find other WL teachers’ suggestions of resources, which may or not be authentic. More often than not, I’ve found it’s not what I’m looking for and that they are often teacher-created AKA not authentic.
Example: You search “school schedule Spanish.” You’ll mostly come up with schedules fabricated by Spanish teachers, students, and maybe a few truly authentic texts. However, if you change your search term to “horario de clases,” almost everything you find will be authentic.
This works for every form of social media and internet search. I’ve had lots of luck on Google and especially on YouTube. It’s shocking up much great stuff I can come up with on YouTube searching in the TL.
Tip #2: Go Where Your Search Leads You
Sometimes, I’ve found I have a tendency to force a search and look for something that doesn’t even exist. However, I’ve found if you can search in the TL, you might be surprised where that will take you and that your first search might lead you down a much better path than the one you were originally on.
For example, I recently redid an IPA for a school unit. I started out on YouTube with the search term “Mi Colegio.” I found some decent hits, but nothing I’d want to use as my resource and some non-authentic items. When I clicked to watch a video that looked like it might be worthwhile, I found that I didn’t like it, but that the suggested/related videos along the right hand side were a jackpot. There were literally dozens of videos that I wouldn’t have otherwise found because I don’t know exactly the exact terminology a native speaker will use to title a video.
For example, check out the this YouTube video, which may or may not be worth looking at, but more importantly explore the “good” and “bad” authentic resource suggestions along the right hand side. You’ll notice some are actually created by Spanish teachers (yuck), but that there are some helpful leads to refine your search based on the video titles created by native speakers.
So, in summary, start out with a basic TL search and look for even better search terms from a native speaker and refine your search accordingly. I’ve got a ton of authentic resources pinned by unit on my Pinterest account and then I actually recently started an “AuthRes” board of cool things I find that don’t currently fit in one of my units, but I want to save. Follow me on Pinterest and you’ll be able to stalk out all of the resources I pin.
Tip #3: Pin your Authentic Resources
If you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet, you need to. It’s incredible. It’s where I save and organize all of the ideas and random resources that I know I want to use, but don’t have time to deal with at the moment. I love that it keeps me organized and inspired and I consider it one of my favorite forms of social media professional development (although read on about my newfound PD love of Twitter).
Now, how can Pinterest help you find authentic resources? It’s tricky because honestly Pinterest has a TON of non-authentic material created by non-native speakers and it’s hard to filter through. I recently discovered a Pinterest trend, however, that has helped me find some ideal authentic resources in almost no time at all. #yayefficiency!
In December, I couldn’t find any intriguing videos for the school unit I discussed above in Tip #2, but once I started pinning some decent or even just O.K. YouTube videos, Pinterest started making some amazing recommendations. Based on the videos I pinned, the Pinterest algorithims started sending me all kinds of quality authentic resources! Some were related to my school unit and others were just really cool resources that I pinned for other units. Guess what happened when I then pinned those recommendations? Pinterest sent me even MORE authentic resources and a beautiful cycle began in which I pin something, I receive recommendations for related pins, I pin some more, and on and on it goes. It’s beautiful. Gosh, I love Pinterest.
If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest so you can see everything I’m pinning, here is my page. This is board where I’ve been pinning all of the authentic resources board (discussed above) and this is a collaborative Realia board from our very own Sherry.
Tip #4: Dive Into Twitter and Instagram
At 34, I have never felt so old as when I decided to tackle Twitter and Instagram. I’d previously been an (admittedly obsessed) Facebook user and I figured other social media platforms would be pretty similar. I was wrong. So wrong. However, despite the initial difficultly learning to navigate Twitter and Instagram, what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown professionally made the slightly frustrating transition entirely worth it. Follow me @SraShawSpanish (for both Twitter and Instagram) and be sure to follow the Secondary Spanish Space group @SecondarySpanishSpace.
I encourage you to create accounts and try it out too and you’ll especially want to if you’re looking for authentic resources. Plus, our very own, Catharyn Crane (AKA Sol Azúcar) is going to be writing a whole blog post about using social media in just a few weeks. She is going to share a ton of great ideas to help you get started, so keep an eye out for that.
For authentic resource purposes, one of the reasons I most love Instagram and especially Twitter is because of how easy it is to search these platforms using the hashtag #authres (short for authentic resource). Basically, what happens is that language teachers like you and I find an authentic resource they want to share and so they Tweet the link to the resource with the hasthag #authres so other people can find it. I’ve found some of my favorite authentic resources this way. In particular, there was the day I searched “#authres” and “introductions”and came across Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell’s brilliant tweet (shown below). She pointed out that people introduce themselves after they perform on singing shows like “The Voice,” which helped me create possibly my favorite IPA of all time.
Novices learning introductions, telling age? #authres:hear this guy’s introduction and then hear him sing! https://t.co/UfkmTbfM78 #langchat
— Sara-E. Cottrell (@SECottrell) August 14, 2015
If you search #authres with your search term and keep refining, you might just come up with some great suggestions you’d never have even considered, which is why I love Twitter. It connects you with people who are out their sharing their ideas and thoughts, which are different than mine, and when it comes to finding authentic resources, I’ve found that to be a good thing as I rarely have the right terminology the first time around.
Also, If you’re looking to get started on Twitter, I highly recommend reading this helpful blog post from Spanish 4 Teachers, which breaks down for Twitter for World Language teachers and gives a bunch of helpful hashtags.
So, there you have it! I really hope you that these tips help you save time, energy, and, perhaps most importantly, sanity as you search for authentic resources. I’ve started to let authentic resources drive my classroom activities and assessments. My students love interacting with the texts and videos I’ve found using the four steps above. Meanwhile, I love watching their skills and confidence grow as they become impressive interpreters of authentic resources. I’d love to hear what secret tips you all have up your sleeve for finding authentic resources and, even better, what your favorite authentic resources are. Please feel free to comment below and connect with us on social media!