Maxwell’s Spanish Showcase highlights students’ interests and skills
At Maxwell Spanish Immersion Magnet Elementary, fourth- and fifth-graders presented a Spanish Showcase that cast a spotlight on their varied interests and proficiency. “It shows our progress and that we know a thing or two about different countries,” said Jack Hannan, who designed a trifold display about several sports in Spain. “It’s cool that I can speak the language so if my family ever went there, I’d know what to say and how to say it,” he added.
Maxwell teachers decided to organize the project-based event after taking a group of students to last year’s Kentucky World Language Association state showcase. After judging some 150 projects at Maxwell, the staff will submit the top 20 for the 2019 KWLA competition.
“We not only teach students a second language but also global competency and communication skills. I want them to realize they can do anything they want in Spanish, and it’s not just academic. It’s more connected with culture and real life. It’s a good way to enjoy a second language,” said David Mato, the instructional media teacher and one of the showcase leaders.
For the school’s first-ever showcase, students could select among nearly two dozen Spanish-speaking countries. Everyone completed basic research such as the country’s major foods, music, significant places, and famous people – with the hope that “they’d find a spark to chase,” as fifth-grade teacher Matt Olsen put it. Students then picked a category in which to explore a cultural element, such as video, monologue, costume, art, music, model, dance, or poster. “It’s a different way to express your ideas. It’s freedom to choose different options,” Mato explained.
Fifth-grader Hope Beighle, for instance, selected Mexico as her focus and created a video of making guacamole in her kitchen at home. She thought the showcase was a great opportunity for her and her classmates to demonstrate their skills – all in Spanish, of course. “We got to learn a little more in-depth,” she said. Hope’s project was inspired by a recipe from her grandmother, who lived in Mexico briefly as an exchange student years ago. “I named the ingredients and went step by step,” Hope said, recalling how she edited the clips and added music to spruce up the video.
One child composed an original piece for a cello performance, another visited several local restaurants to enhance their food video, and others used Minecraft to design virtual monuments and Legos to build a model of Machu Picchu.
“It let the kids be more creative. We saw them take a lot more interest in their project because it fit them better,” Olsen said. Also, at that evening’s Family Night, parents could see the different ways students express their learning.
The staff at Maxwell fosters a love for the Spanish language and culture, and this first-ever showcase was an effective tool to engage the older students. “When we allow for an interest-based project that connects with the heart,” Olsen said, “they’re developing deeper connections.”