Monday, November 4, 2013

Projects - Books as Bridges

I've been looking for ways to connect with classrooms in my target language classrooms and have struggled to find a way to do it easily with my students' novice low-mid Spanish level and coordinate it for as many students as I have (670+).  A solution finally presented itself with the Books as Bridges program.

Books as Bridges

Books as Bridges a local program that is part of the larger non-profit the International Book Project that sends books to developing countries. In the Books as Bridges program students write three letters to pen pals in a developing country, send a cultural package about what life is like here in Kentucky and they do a community service project somehow related to their pen pals. That all sounded awesome to me so I talked to our fifth grade team and they were also interested so I signed us up.

To make this relevant to our Spanish study we requested a partner classroom in South America that was studying English. The immersion school in our county has participated before in the past with other elementary schools in Latin America but I felt that my students' level of Spanish wasn't really at a point where we could be writing letters completely in the target language. But if we could write a small introduction in Spanish and then finish our letters in English that could work. A partner classroom that was learning English could do the same thing but in reverse - intro in English, rest of the letter in Spanish. My students are much better at reading and negotiating meaning than they are at producing now. Anything they couldn't figure out I could translate for them.

They told us that they had done that before so it shouldn't be a problem. However, apparently it's taking longer than usual. We got a late start anyway because I didn't find out about the program until past the official application date but they let us in. Now the contacts in Ecuador are being slow to answer emails. The back-up plan will be a partner classroom in Africa, which while it will still be cool to have pen pals and do a service learning project it will negate the whole reason I'm running it.

In the meantime we had a pen pal prep session and all the students are excited. Hope they let us know soon about our partner classroom so I have answers for my students who are beginning to pepper me with questions every time they see me. Fingers crossed!

Check out the International Book Project and Books as Bridges.

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