How Karen Inspires Students with Travel

by | Aug 12, 2021 | Spanish Teachers Unite

Can you believe the biggest motivator driving 18-22-year-olds to travel is a desire to learn history and experience culture? That’s ahead of partying. Everyone else? Rest and relaxation. Does this reflect a growing trend amongst young Americans to seek out a more immersive experience abroad?

This week in STU:

  • Travel projects that inspire
  • Sets & stats – travel phrases
  • Student question from reddit

Travel project

by Karen Urrutia Polnitz

Looking for new ways to have your students explore the Spanish-speaking world? Send them on a trip! 

Projects are a great way to provide students with a real-life application of the vocabulary, phrases, and skills they are learning in your class. When it comes to learning about Spanish-speaking countries, pairing lessons on culture and history with vocabulary and structures surrounding traveling, leisure, and activities can make for some awesome creation and conversation. Over the past few years, various travel projects have sparked excitement and interest but the Travel Plan Project has always been my favorite and has yielded the most in-depth creations. 

The Travel Plan Project invites students to choose a Spanish-speaking country that interests them and map out a whole trip to visit the destinations of their choice and outline the experiences that call to them. Students create an itinerary for several days of travel, write about their “why” for visiting this country in an overview of their trip, and demonstrate learned Spanish structures in writing about a key point of interest. 

The Prep

Fill them up with vocabulary that can be used to talk about activities and modes of transportation while on their trip. In my vocabulary sets, I like to include basic sentence structures or starters that will be used in the conversational portion of our presentation in my vocabulary sets so that students get extra practice with those when we play vocabulary games or they study on their own. In my classes, we take conversation time every day, asking students to fill in the blanks on sentences and respond to questions in communication with their peers. 

Share some fun videos and read some stories or poems from Spanish-speaking countries. Spend some time exploring intriguing features and exciting places to visit. Create a mapping activity and invite students to engage in conversation as they label it with the names of key locations.

-¿Dónde se encuentra la Cascada de Tamul?

-La Cascada de Tamul está en México.

The Process

Give students chunks of the project to work on and take time to model and guide them through the steps in class. You can use one of the examples linked below or create your own to meet the needs and levels of your class and learning goals. Have students read, identify key words, and answer questions about meaning as you go through each stage. 

Supports

Provide scaffolds for your students by giving them sentence structures. Students who need additional clarification or assistance will benefit from a fill in the blank form in order to create their paragraphs. You can help them go through the process of forming each sentence or place them in groups to support each other in creating a certain section of the project.

Giving students options on how they will present their creation is another simple way to modify projects and give individual students an opportunity to display their knowledge in a way that makes sense to them. Students can choose a platform or style that they feel strongly about and can take pride in ownership when they develop a strong project.

Conversation and Presentation

Projects that require individual, creative solutions such as this Travel Plan Project open doors for dynamic conversation and presentation between students. Give students set questions and, if needed, a sentence starter or fill in the blank structure for how to respond. You can group questions into sets of 3-5 based upon theme or section and work on each set for a few days or a week. Go over the questions and how to respond in class, give students time to write out their response, and then invite them to have practice conversations with their classmates. If students are hesitant to get started, try playing “musical conversations” and have them move around the room, stopping when the music stops to ask one or all of the questions to the classmate nearest to them.

When it’s time to present their projects, conversation questions can be used as part of your evaluation. Ask students several questions at random and evaluate their ability to respond appropriately based upon the rubric shared below or create your own! My students really enjoyed sharing their presentations at our “Travel Expo” where they were able to see each other’s work, ask questions, and vote for the trip they’d most like to take. This also gave me an opportunity to grade most projects during one class period as opposed to taking several class days to have each student or group present individually.

Make it Your Own!

You know your students best, and you know what will work best in your classroom. This Travel Plan Project can easily be modified to fit various Spanish levels or adjusted to cover specific conversational, writing, or presentational goals. You can adjust the number of days for the itinerary, the amount of activities for each day, and the length or style of the writing components. Planning a unit to cover a specific country? Have your students focus their travels there. Want to build in some extra projects surrounding the theme of travel and the Spanish-speaking world? Ask them to create a passport with information about themselves or build a simple poster to advertise their trip. 

What kind of travel projects have you done in your classes or how might you modify this one to meet your students’ needs? Share with us in the comments or link an example of student work! We’d love to see how you develop this theme and it’s so valuable when we can grow together. However you adapt this project idea, put your students’ problem-solving skills and creativity at the forefront, and you can’t go wrong. Happy traveling teachers!

Themes: Travel, Culture, Activities 

Grades: 7-12

Levels: 2-4

Skills: Sentence writing, conversation, asking for information, listing, telling time, pricing

Travel Plan Project Instructions

Travel Plan Project Rubric

Travel Plan Project Teacher Example

Travel Plan Project Student Example 1

Travel Plan Project Student Example 2

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Sets & stats

🗺️ Travel essentials: In 2018, four of the top ten international travel destinations were Spanish speaking countries. #learnspanish

🧭 Directions & getting around: For those of us who are (or will be) painfully aware that only two LATAM cities are available on City Mapper. #ayuda

🍴 Dining & drinking: 68% of families splurge on eating out/food while traveling. #yum

🛍️ Shopping 54% of travelers go shopping during their summer vacation. #newshoes

🤒 Receiving care: Depending on the destination, the CDC estimates 30% to 70% of travelers will experience travelers’ diarrhea (TD). #yikes

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FROM REDDIT

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