Technology featured at Foreign Language/Literacy Showcase

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Feb. 8, 2013
GHS juniors Haley Patzold and Billy Harasyko try to appear sad, mimicking mistreated South American produce farmers, as part of Spanish teacher Sarah Lindstrom's class's display at the Foreign Language Literacy Night at Smith Middle School. Photos by Steve Smith.
GHS juniors Haley Patzold and Billy Harasyko try to appear sad, mimicking mistreated South American produce farmers, as part of Spanish teacher Sarah Lindstrom's class's display at the Foreign Language Literacy Night at Smith Middle School. Photos by Steve Smith.

Glastonbury schools celebrated the harmony between foreign languages and literacy at the 2013 Foreign Language Literacy Showcase at Smith Middle School on Feb. 7. Rita Oleksak – director of Foreign Languages/ELL – thanked the teachers for putting the evening together, and for their work in helping students learn a second language and make the crossover to their first language skills.

Students and teachers from every foreign language class across the district set up displays in the cafeteria at the school – each displaying its own take on how foreign languages and literacy intersect.

Students in GHS teacher Sarah Lindstrom’s Spanish classes had studied how Latin-American companies treat their workers and whether countries should regulate working conditions. Students dressed as farm workers, and gave out fruit… but, did so wearing worn expressions. Students also polled visitors to their booth on whether the companies or the governments should bear the burden for controlling workers’ conditions.

Oleksak said that in the first year of the showcase, one or two computers were used, and that now, in its fourth year, many of the displays involved computers or tablets in very interesting ways.

Teacher John Rook’s eighth-grade Russian students read the folk tale of Baba Yaga, and had to write a sequel. “The story ends with the evil stepmother being chased away,” Rook said. “The students had to extend it – continue the story in some way.”

After creating their sequels, including pictures on pages in short books, the students used an iPad app. to digitize their stories and record their voices as the narration. “Essentially, it’s very simplistic,” he said. “What my kids did is take a picture of each slide, and then you can record over it. They just read what they wrote on the slide. Once you finish all of them, you compile it into a storybook.”

Rook said the use of technology kept the students more excited about the literary works. “They were really focused and engaged,” he said. “Even some other teachers walking by in the hallway noticed that the were so enmeshed in their work. They really liked that part.”

Teacher Jocelyn Tamburello-Noble said her freshman Spanish students had been learning about pre-Colombian cultures, and created a presentation on a computer to support the Mayans' supposed prediction of the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012. “They had to use a 21st century medium to support their evidence,” Tamburello-Noble said. They used a program called MovieMaker, gathered images and created graphics, to produce a mini-documentary about how the earth was going to end.

Classrooms also had "Read Around the World" activities, which included stories, games and crafts based on literary works in Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese, among others.

Families attending the showcase were also able to sign up for StarTalk camps this summer, to learn Chinese, Russian and Arabic.

Joanne St. Peter – director of language arts – said the projects “speak for themselves” and that people could travel around the world without leaving Glastonbury. “We so often hear about 21st century skills of collaboration and cooperation,” she said. “Clearly, the displays that fill the school this evening are a tribute to those skills. Research tells us that children who explore a foreign language achieve higher levels of  academic success in all of their subjects. However, as wonderful as all these reasons are for studying another language, most worthy of note is the understanding and appreciation of culture that students of foreign language study come to know.”


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