Year 2019-20, T2 (4)

This trimester, Summit students began with a “News Show” in Spanish–“En vivo, desde México” (Live, from Mexico)–where they took turns being reporters, working tech, and dramatically presenting the weather (¡El tiempo!/the weather). Each week, they added a new commercial, which was usually a translated slogan of a well-known brand (WalMart: save more, live better/ahorra más, vive mejor; Nike: Just do it/Sólo hazlo; McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it/Me encanta; etc.). Once fourth graders felt comfortable with their script, each class transitioned to a more in-depth project, that was going to make national news. Well, that was the plan, anyway! Let me explain.

4A voted that they wanted to travel to and focus on Spain, while 4B chose Mexico. Both classes brought their backpacks to Spanish class; removed their shoes when passing through security; boarded the airplane; graciously accepted Cheez-Its and water from their stewardesses; took advantage of the in-flight entertainment (iPads); and after a long flight, finally landed.

Next, wearing backpacks, they followed a QR code hunt around campus, learning about famous monuments and cultural tidbits. Right when they thought things were winding down, their teacher hailed a taxi and they drove around the neighborhood, seeing the sights of [either] Madrid, Spain or Mexico City, Mexico from a cab. [Note that your children were safe at all times here–Ms. Berry was the “cab driver” of the school van!]

Students in 4A drove past the Prado MuseumEl Prado in Madrid, Spain is one of the most famous museums in the world, housing over 27,000 objects and artworks. In fact, it was the Google Doodle [the week students learned about it], which celebrated the museum’s 200th anniversary! For this project, students took an 8.5×11 copy of a well-known painting and transferred it by eye to a large trifold, trying to imagine how artists filled such massive canvases. For images of their work, please visit THIS LINK.

During the painting process, one student learned that the Prado was actually robbed in 2014— of a shocking 885 artworks. As a result, more than several classes were spent trying to merge their Spanish news show with an iMovie green screen breaking news “robbery” of their paintings in the style of Oceans 12. Ultimately, the project lost steam, but it was fun while it lasted! Here is the soundtrack we used.

Students in 4B drove past the Museo Soumaya, a Mexican museum with completely different exhibits. Here, fourth graders learned that in 1715, a fleet of Spanish ships sank off the coast of Florida, en route to Spain and loaded with treasure from the new world. Modern treasure hunters have discovered some of this lost treasure–one family made $4.5 million dollars in 2017!–but much still remains on the ocean floor. Students acted out this story as a class (with Spanish dialogue, of course), and then created artifacts for a faux museum display. After painting the Spanish crest and flag on them, students broke a few of the plates intentionally to make it seem more realistic!

Both classes tried to make a green screen iMovie for their News Show, but meeting only once or twice a week caused the process to lose steam. That said, they ALL did an amazing job with this! I wish we could have had a final product, but… c’est la vie!

Throughout these projects, students worked on Duolingo (or Memrise) every day. At some point, they became über-motivated and completely addicted to the app. This was and is great to see. The top scores right now are as follows:

4.A CHAMPIONS: Ilaria, 4879 XP; Audrey, 2800 XP; and Gabby, 2077 XP. 4.B CHAMPIONS: Adam, 13902 XP; Jai, 5717 XP: Lyla, 5635 XP.

Additionally, fourth graders had several conversations about language on a more philosophical level this trimester. They learned about hyperpolyglots, or people who speak an extreme number of languages; explored books from my personal collection that are in multiple languages; and discussed several statistics, such as 1) that there are 7,000 languages in the world, but that it is hard to define what exactly a language is, especially when compared to something like Spanglish; and 2) it is funny that we think of the internet as so ‘global’, when 52% of its content is in English (1 out of 7,000 languages). In that light, the web seems pretty limited, in terms of perspective taking.

As the trimester came to a close, students requested center work again. Here, they sign up via letters for what they want to do each day. While this is remarkably similar to last year and what other grades do from time to time, I have to emphasize here that their written work has grown tremendously as a group. Last year, their letters were all the same, very uniform. Now, I am reading all different types of letters–some are serious, others silly, and others a combination of the two. They are a delight to read each day. Keep up the excellent work, fourth grade!


February: Hoy les felicité a los de 4.A por ser mi clase más ‘global’ o mundial de Lower School, en términos de querer aprender tantos idiomas… y en actuar sobre esta pasión. Muchos están tomando más de un curso en Duolingo, en adición al español: mandarín, francés, ruso, polaco, japonés, etc. Hay unos 7.000 idiomas en el mundo ahora, y con solo nueve o diez años, los niños ya saben mucho del ámbito lingüístico.

Por ejemplo, me dijeron esta mañana (correctamente), que en orden de millones o billones de gente, el mandarín es primero, el español segundo y el inglés, tercero. Pero en línea, el inglés domina, con 52 por ciento de la Red.

Les expliqué que hay “unos” 7.000 idiomas y no resulta una ciencia exacta por falta de una definición nítida o precisa: es el “spanglish” un idioma? Qué tal Chinglish (chino/inglés) o Greeklish (griego/inglés)? Hablamos de las capas y el desarrollo de los idiomas en sí. Por ejemplo, el “japoñol” es la mezcla de japonés y español, cuando unos inmigrantes se fueron de Japón a Perú y la segunda generación aprendió español y empezó a mezclarlo con el japonés en casa. A qué punto se convierte en otro idioma, además de la jerga/lunfardo*? ¡Avísenme en los comentarios abajo si tienen una opinión! [*jerga/lunfardo significa “slang” aquí]

Como que la clase ya tenía interés en el asunto, llevé desde mi casa unos libros míos, escritos en otros idiomas. Los niños trataban de descifrar cuál era cuál. Al notar un idioma que no podían identificar, era “aymará”, una lengua indígena de Sudamérica. Un hecho interesante aquí es que, en nuestra cultura, para hacer referencia al pasado, uno señala hacia atrás (“Ayer yo fui…”) y un gesto adelante para significar el futuro. En aymará, resulta el opuesto: uno señala hacia adelante para referir al PASADO porque es lo que se ve y por tanto, lo que uno conoce; uno señala hacia atrás para referir al PORVENIR, ya que no se ve y uno todavía no lo conoce.

Al final de la clase, hablamos de frases (y palabras) intraducibles (“untranslatable”), como deja-vu, tortillas, tacos, etc. y “word loans” (préstamos). Era un día muy académico y lingüístico, pero aprecié tanto el interés y la madurez de la clase. ¡Cuarto grado es genial!