My students are 4th and 5th graders that come from all over our city. They participate in a magnet gifted program, which is why they have Spanish classes. 4th and 5th graders in our district only have access to Spanish if they are selected for this program. They are selected on the merit of their academic achievement. As this is a magnet program, many of these students travel to our school instead of attending schools closer to their homes.
These students are clever, engaging and excited about the opportunity to learn a new language.
They are learning Spanish in addition to the grade-level content, they are expected to exceed the curriculum of their peers outside of the program daily. They juggle their grade-level content, Spanish, and a myriad of after school activities successfully. They are charismatic and witty. In our class, we emphasize their creativity and imagination.
Our district is an inner-city school system. Many of our schools have Title 1 status, with funding to give all students two free meals during the school day. These students reflect this range in access to resources.
The twenty students in my 5th grade class are nearly finished with their first class novel. They have become such avid Spanish readers, which is clearly reflected in their written and spoken productions. They are also very deep thinkers that are inspired by debate and topics of justice or injustice.
Their classroom teacher and I want to team up and tap into their passion for justice through a unit on life in Cuba, and US policies for Cuban immigration to the United States.
Having a class set of Escape Cubano, written on a level these 11-year-olds are already successfully reading, will allow me to teach in conjunction with their regular teacher. These books, and boxes to organize them, will increase their knowledge of Spanish while we (the teachers) give them the information they need to establish their own opinions about this facet of foreign policy.
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