“Beyond El Gran Capoquero”: high school students learn Spanish skills via Drama while providing community service to K-2 Spanish students

February 25, 2015

“”Beyond El Gran Capoquero”” (The Great Kapok Tree) extends SAIL’s 1997-98 interdisciplinary project whereby high school students acquire conversational Spanish skills via Drama while providing community service to K-2 Spanish students. That project’s success, our desire to capitalize on the strong oral presentation/drama skills of SAIL students and the support of our school improvement plan (expansion of hands-on, applied experiential learning and a greater emphasis on community service for our students) encouraged us to continue.

First semester included joint lesson planning, student training in Spanish, Drama, and Early Childhood Education teaching techniques, and development of student-produced curriculum implementation activities. SAIL students met with Ruediger second-grade students four times (informal “”icebreakers””, discussion of rainforest animals and habitats, and painting murals used as scenery for the first-grade students’ second-semester performance). Second semester included SAIL students meeting ten times with the first-graders, teaching Spanish dialogue, drama and movement techniques, mask making, and performance preparation. There were four performances: one, early in the project, with SAIL students showing the Ruediger students “”how it’s done””; one, near the end, with all the students, for Ruediger parents and students; and two joint-cast productions, one for the “”Celebrate the Arts Festival”” at Gretchen Everhart School for Exceptional Students and one opportunity to entertain and exchange ideas with visitors from the Ecuadorian rainforest.

SAIL students provided approximately 700 hours of community service (including travel and preparation) and helped develop replicable curriculum materials. All students stayed enrolled in the program and took seriously their responsibilities as teachers and role models. There is positive anecdotal feedback from Everhart, Ruedigerand SAIL staff and plans to continue the Spanish/Drama curriculum and Ruediger/SAIL relationship. We may also pursue ways to replicate and use this Learn and Serve project as a model to implement the Sunshine State Standards for Foreign Language instruction for high school and elementary students and for using authentic assessment for evaluation.

SAIL High School - FL, Florida
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