Giving Thanks in Spain

This week I was asked to write a blog post for Fulbright about my side project that I am currently doing with my students. I thought this would also be the perfect time for you all to get a small snap-shot of what I have been up to with these amazing kiddos as well! I hope you enjoy 🙂

The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the screaming and cheering from the TV as the new balloons pass the crowded streets of Manhattan, and of course the hustle of mom and dad shuffling around the kitchen trying not to burn any of the countless food staples, all of these things fill my memories of Thanksgiving. For a tradition that is so precious in my memory, the idea of teaching my 3° de primaria students at San Felices de Bilibio in Haro, Spain, was something that both filled me with joy, but also, overwhelmed me! That’s 23 years of special Thanksgiving memories to try to convey to twenty-five eight year olds!

However as overwhelming as it might have seemed, the importance of giving thanks was something that I felt my students would truly benefit from learning. So it started with a small idea. A small idea to share my Spanish students’ new understanding of Thanksgiving with their pen pals from the United States that they had been writing to this year.

I started two weeks ago with lessons about the meaning of being thimg_0109ankful. I started by having students think about “home”. We discussed our feelings toward home; was home loving, caring, and warm? What was it?
We then proceeded to continue our brainstorm in
regard to family, friends, and food. After this, I asked
them their feelings about the possibility of not having
one of those things. Would we be happy? Would we be
sad? After a resounding, “SAD!” I then began to hint at
the idea of giving thanks for those special things and
why this was important.

img_0113After two class periods of talking about what we were “thankful” for, I decided it was time to put pen to paper. I had been talking to my students about poems in past classes and I thought what a perfect way to share what we have learned about Thanksgiving…a poem! I decided to pick a relatively easy poem structure, a Cinquain Poem, which was able to capture their sentiments about being thankful.

To give a small recap of what a Cinquain poem entails, it is a non-rhyming poem that consists of five lines with each line varying in the amount of syllables. However, there are different formats of these poems, and for my students I adapted the outline as follows:

Title

Adjective, Adjective

-Gerund, -Gerund, -Gerund

One Sentence

Title

This was leveled to my students English ability and allowed for more creativity than frustration of finding the correct syllables for each line (that wasn’t the point of the project and knowing this class, that would have been too much!)

Regardless, the students loved them! After I modeled my own poem, I had them practice writing. We then made final drafts that were quite creative. I told my students that poems could look many different ways…I showed them several Shel Silverstein poems that didn’t go line by line…and my students ran with it! By the end of two weeks, my students had beautiful poems that were able to convey what they were truly thankful for! Mission accomplished!

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