The Chagrin Falls Board of Education’s September meeting had some international flavor as eighth-grade Spanish students showcased their work at Chagrin Falls Middle School.
Principal Laila Discenza began the showcase by defining the school’s goals for education and student development. “Global awareness and international collaboration during the formative years result in well-rounded individuals,” said Discenza. “The activities shared today encourage our students to see things from different perspectives and help them to make informed decisions while acquiring life-long, transferable skills.”
Spanish teacher Kathleen Aranavage began the showcase by stating that Spanish is the fourth-most spoken language in the world. Students in her class then learned where the Spanish-speaking countries were in the world using an online geography game.
“I hope for students to be inspired to travel around the world, explore new cultures, experience unknown places, and communicate with people in new ways, understanding different languages, norms, and ideas,” said Aranavage.
As part of this goal, students chose a country to metaphorically travel to and create a video blog. In the video, they create GIFs of themselves making it look like they are visiting tourist attractions and they narrate their trip in Spanish. Jude Bidar rode alpacas in Chile, Brigitte Edwards went sightseeing in Spain, Colin Struk-Marn visited glaciers in Argentina, Katie Rosner went ziplining in Costa Rica, and Josh Vasko swam in Cuban waters.
Students gave a brief presentation at the showcase, in Spanish, and were required to send their entire completed video to their parents to improve parent/child communication. Student skills in interpersonal communication were also fostered through pairing with an eighth grader from Liceo Villa Fontana school outside of Madrid, Spain.
Josh Vasko said, “A really important part of learning a language is listening and/or interacting with a native speaker. Chagrin has a program with a school in Spain called, ‘Intercambios’ which is where Chagrin and LVF will both do projects together to interact with one another like slideshows, Flipgrid videos, and even Zoom calls.”
Some of the Flipgrid videos included students in Spain talking in English and Spanish about their school life and interests outside of the classroom. Chagrin students would then respond in both English and Spanish.
“By being able to speak with native speakers, it gives us a massive advantage by letting us hear how it is supposed to be said. Another thing I like about this program is being able to listen to my Intercambio speak English,” said Colin Struk-Marn.
Some of the conversations have started with names and ages, and gone on to cover likes, hobbies and families.
“The opportunities are endless when knowing how to communicate with others,” said Aranavage. “Communication is the key to academic, professional, and personal success.”
Photo: Board Vice President Lori Bendall, Board Member Kathleen Garvey, Spanish Teacher Kathleen Aranavage, Jude Bidar, Brigitte Edwards, Katie Rosner, Josh Vasko and Colin Struk-Marn, Board President Sharon Broz, Board Member Lauren Miller