Recognizing the importance of providing culturally authentic materials to her students, Meagan Bassett – a Spanish Teacher at Arlington High School – knew that the best way to teach her students about Latin American culture, cuisine, history, and contemporary life was to experience it herself. In July 2013, Ms. Bassett traveled to Peru on a Primary Source Educational Tour. The trip was partially funded by an Arlington Education Foundation Continuing Scholar Award.
One of her main goals in visiting Peru was to enhance her ability to deliver cultural material effectively. Prior to departing, Ms. Bassett thought about what she wanted to bring back to her classroom and prepared a detailed list of photos she would need to deliver an introductory lesson on “the city”. She returned with a collection of photos showing popular foods, open markets, clothing, housing and more.
To teach her advanced Spanish students about Latin American culture and early civilization, Ms. Bassett plans to share her experiences in a weaving community as a starting point for exploration of the Inca culture, the arrival of the Spanish, and the discovery of Machu Picchu.
(Excerpt from Superintendent’s October 2013 Newsletter)
Trip to Peru Delivers Insight and Materials to Enrich Language Classrooms
The four language teachers who visited Peru this summer not only brought home books, photos and video interviews that they can use in their classrooms, they also came away with a heightened understanding of the importance of first-hand experience. Ottoson teacher Anne Zachary and AHS teachers Meagan Bassett, Christina Toro, and Katia Haberman traveled to Peru with Primary Source, an organization that offers professional development programs for K-12 educators. For Ms. Haberman, this was a trip to return home. Each one kept an annotated journal in which they reflected on their experiences. A continuing Scholars Award from the Arlington Education Foundation assisted Ms. Bassett in making the trip.
The study tour began before the teachers boarded the plane. There were readings to complete, and two classes on the culture and history of Peru to attend. To supplement her experience, Ms. Bassett read Turn Right at Machu Picchu, a book in which author Mark Adams retraces the steps of Hiram Bingham III, the man who rediscovered the site in 1911.
Visiting Machu Picchu was a “dream come true” for Ms. Toro. On the second day she was part of a group that hiked to the top of the mountains to get a bird’s eye view of the city below. She was able to imagine what it must have been like for the conquerors coming to the Americas for the first time, with no idea of what they were facing. It also gave her new respect for the Incans, having built and navigated steep and narrow roads that are not for the faint of heart!
The time the group spent in Cuzco was the most important part of the trip for Ms. Bassett. Since a large section of the curriculum is dedicated to the study of that city, the key moments and sites she captured on film will be of particular use to her in the classroom.
Please take some time to look at the beautiful pictures from the trip which can be found here. To learn more about Primary Source and the programs they offer to connect teachers to people and cultures click here.