For anyone who’s learned a new language, you know it’s far more than just reading textbooks and doing worksheets. It takes real world experiences to fully grasp language concepts and to gain confidence. Integrated Studies teacher, Jessica Fonseca, has been at CA for four years teaching Spanish to Grades 5-12. She immerses her classes in many projects that challenge and inspire students to learn Spanish in a more fulsome way that challenges their creativity.
“Textbooks are good guide, but I’m lucky at CA that I can build my own Spanish program and be guided by what the kids need. We all learn the same things in the classroom, but at the end of the day, each students’ projects will look different from their peers.”
Recently, her beginner Grade 6 class was assigned a project called El tanque de tiburones, otherwise known as Spanish Shark Tank. The assignment was to conceptualize and invent a product to help solve a problem they experienced in class. The goal was not only to able to create something tangible, but to introduce themselves and talk in third person about their project.
Problems included solving communication issues within friend groups, controlling the classroom temperature, and curing classroom boredom. While these may sound like everyday problems for students, the solutions the students came up with and presented to their peers in another language were incredible.
“We have a lot of hands-on projects because that’s what students need. It helps with motor skills and making sure the language is sticking with them. For example, using verbs in context and bringing them to life.”
From a wearable bracelet that translated emotions into colour, to a backpack with a built-in fan to help cool down in the classroom, and essential oil and sand stress balls, there is no doubt that creativity is flowing freely in Jessica’s students.
“The goal is to not restrict creativity. At the end of the day, what they learn from creativity is a lot more than what I had planned for them. To see that spark in their eyes like, ‘wow, I created something’, is amazing. It might even be that a creative seed from a Spanish project applies to their other classes.”
What’s next for the Integrated Studies Spanish students? Through Google Earth, students will embark on a virtual field trip to Uruguay in their Latin America project. Using FaceTime, they will converse with someone from the country to polish up their Spanish conversation skills. Other recent projects have included building a display to celebrate Día de los Muertos, with many more exciting projects upcoming!
To see the students talk about their Spanish Shark Tank projects on the latest episode of CATV, click here.