At TESOL Spain, the Virtual Educator, Anne Haggerson, presented her creative project working with pre-service teachers at the Higher Normal School in Sonora, Mexico. In her talk, she highlighted the pre-service teachers’ creative, multimodal responses to literature, the final assessment in their virtual classroom in December of 2022. There were 35 attendees at Anne’s session, all of whom were teachers, teacher trainers, professors, and language school directors.
Furthermore, Anne carried out an interactive component in her workshop at TESOL Spain, where participants collaborated in small groups and created endings to stories using a “creative kit.” Each group used poetry, drama, collage, and voice effects to enhance their storytelling, and just like she did with her student teachers in Mexico, the teachers in the workshop uploaded the behind-the-scenes photos of the creative process and the final products to a padlet. Anne used a culturally relevant story she had written that came from the many conversations she had had with the professors at the Higher Normal School, who generously shared vidoes and photographs with her about indigenous culture in Sonora. More specifically, Anne became fascinated by “La Danza del Venado,” a dance that is over 300 years old and has been recognized by UNESCO for its cultural value. Participants’ eyes lit up and were excited about the idea of using culturally relevant texts with their own students. Part of Anne’s theoretical framework in the presentation was based on the idea of drawing upon the rich cultural assets and connecting school and community in the language classroom through the use of culturally relevant stories and texts. Additionally, she found that by giving students choice and autonomy in the way they responded to literature (a poem, a collage, a dance, voice), the process enhanced their engagement and increased speech production and sophistication in the L2.
In Your Own Words
It was a satisfying and rewarding feeling to see teachers working together and experiencing firsthand the joyful process of collaborating to create something unique in response to a story. I encouraged teachers to use acting and movement to express themselves and was thrilled to see some of the teachers honoring the kinesthetic and acting out their story endings. I had spent months preparing for the workshop and presentation at TESOL Spain and it all seemed worth it when one of the teachers was moved to write a poem, telling us she hadn’t written poetry in years, but that it was a creative outlet that fueled her. She was grateful that she tapped into her creativity and was able to feel the power of expressing herself. Teachers also enjoyed working together in small groups because they drew upon each other’s strengths. Some people in the group drew the characters, others vocalized the storytelling, and others acted out the events. By the end of the lesson, I felt that I had reached my objective to use tech as a share tool for community building, guide teachers to integrate creative elements into their lessons and incorporate culturally relevant texts into their units.