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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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A Community of Language Learners

By Mr. Charlie Sellers, Modern Languages Faculty

A Community of Language Learners

¡Manos con manos, dedos con dedos, puños, palmas, pulgares, dedos índices, dedos meñiques… descanso!”  I orchestrate these commands while the class stands in a circle giving each other high fives and joining fingers, fists, palms, thumbs, index fingers, then they wait for the next direction.  “Espaldas con espaldas.”  Everyone goes back to back. “¡Cinco, cinco, diez, diez, codos, codos, pies, pies!”  The students face their conversation partners, and again give high fives, tens, and knock elbow, elbow, foot, foot.  They wait for the prompt to respond to an attention-grabbing hook about a brief, animated short film about Día de los muertos.  On my cue in groups of two, the students start listing elements that we have studied from Día de los muertos that they saw in the video, which is a novice skill (ACTFL).  “¡Díez al revés!”  The kids give backwards high fives to their classmates who are standing behind them in the circle, turn to face each other, and, again, responding to another prompt, and they start narrating using the past tenses to recount what happened in the video, addressing Intermediate-High Level discourse (ACTFL).

Class Goals: “I want you … to form a community, to take risks without fear, to have fun, and to always speak Spanish.
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Ramon y Cajal Podcast

By Gunnar Vachris, VI Form and Jack Griffin, V Form
Ramon y Cajal Podcast
Editor’s Note: Barb Putnam, Margarita Moreno, and Lindsey Lohwater collaborated to take their Studio II, Adv. Spanish Literature, and Biology classes, respectively, to the MIT Museum to see the exhibit by Santiago Ramon y Cajal called “The Beautiful Brain.” Ms. Lohwater created an assignment with these parameters: Create a final product (infographic, video, podcast, written work) that answers the question “What makes a good scientist?”; the requirements are: Evidence from a minimum of 2 pieces of art seen at MIT; Evidence from Cajal’s writings and the essays written about him; placing Cajal’s work in time and place — What was known before his work about neuroscience? After?; e.vidence from your own research that expands all of this knowledge

Click here to access Gunnar and Jack’s Podcast

or here (more…)

Returning with a Full Heart, a Master’s Degree, and a Fiancé!

By KK Behan, Spanish Faculty

Returning with a Full Heart, a Master’s Degree, and a Fiancé!

This summer, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to finish my master’s degree through Middlebury College. The program lasted for six weeks. I lived in Palermo, a trendy neighborhood with an array of awesome restaurants, art, and architecture. One of my favorite parts about the neighborhood was the colorful murals painted by artists involved in the city’s vibrant street-art scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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La Realidad de la “Democracia Racial” entre Brasil (En Español and English)

By Theo Bartlett, V Form

La Realidad de la “Democracia Racial” entre Brasil (En Español and English)

Our core objective in our Spanish IV class is to study Latin American history in order to understand how and why Latin America has been shaped into the region that it is today. Within our curriculum, we accomplish this task by doing case studies on many different countries in Latin America, in which we study the national history of the country and then connect it to recent publications regarding its modern day situation. Within these case studies, we explore the demographics, economics, politics, and social scene of a country by immersing ourselves in Latin American literature, political debates, documentaries, and movies, and we reflect on what we have learned in both classroom discussions and written responses throughout the studies.  Most recently, at the end of our case study on Brazil, we were asked to take the information that we learned in the PBS documentary “Black in Brazil”, which talks (more…)

Like a Rock Star

By Charlie Sellers, Head of the Modern Languages Department

Like a Rock Star

I had a very busy summer vacation. It was also a phenomenal summer full of adventure and self-Charlie and Michaeladiscovery. A day after finishing my end of the year duties at St. Mark’s –advisee letters, grades, comments, and faculty meetings– I left for China with 10 St. Markers and our former Chinese teacher, Showjean Wu. After two weeks in Beijing at our partner school, I was back in the States. My wife and I were moving from the house across from the thirds’ soccer field to a bigger house at the end of the thirds’ soccer field, and I needed to pack. My wife, Michaela, was busy finishing up classes and end of the year events –she teaches 5th grade at a public school in Sharon, Massachusetts– and we had another big adventure planned for the day after she finished classes. We were about to embark on an 800-kilometer (about 500-miles, a little longer than the distance from (more…)