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Extending Community During Social Distancing: Remote Experiential Learning in Spanish

By Mr. Charlie Sellers, Spanish Faculty; Lindsay Davis, V Form; Tate Frederick, V Form; and Sydni Williams, IV Form

Extending Community During Social Distancing: Remote Experiential Learning in Spanish

Spanish is not for the classroom, and it is my hope that, after this year, all of my students will feel empowered to use their Spanish beyond St. Mark’s. 

– Mr. Charlie Sellers

During the final three weeks of Remote Learning, Spanish 4 students worked on a multi-step project called Estrechando Lazos/Making Connections. I asked students to pick a topic that in some way related to one of the units that we studied during remote learning: COVID-19 in the Spanish-Speaking World; Immigration: Assimilation and Alienation; and The Food Supply: the Migrant Farmworker in the United States. Students were asked to research the topic and find two to three relevant sources. Then, they tried to make contact with at least one person who is knowledgeable in the topic area. Students composed emails in Spanish to set up interviews using Zoom. 

Experiential Learning is a large part of what we do at St. Mark’s, and what I have learned from participating in experiential programs at our school influenced how I set up the project. I relied substantially on what I learned from last year’s Fifth Form Lion Term Leaders, Colleen Worrell and Kim Berndt: Design Thinking; making contacts outside of the school; giving students choice in choosing topics; guiding them along the way; and helping them present their most salient takeaways in a final demonstration of learning. In the final week of school, students presented a culminating project of their choice that showed what they had learned. The students’ work exceeded my expectations. 

The projects were diverse and relevant to the students’ interests. Fifth Former Sydney Williams interviewed both a family friend who is an immigration attorney and WBUR immigration reporter Shannon Dooling about the Dreamers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. For her final product, she created a collage about the Dreamers and DACA. She wrote facts that she had learned from her interviews and research in images that she cut out of monarch butterflies and two stop signs. A symbol of the Dreamers, monarch butterflies pass freely over the US/Mexico border. She also included a dream catcher behind an image of the Statue of Liberty, and she superimposed these images on top of a background of the Dream Act.

Final Project by Sydni Williams, featuring information from her interviews.
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