Makenna Schrader is a 2016-2017 La Rioja/Fulbright U.S. English Teaching Assistant in infantil and primaria at CEIP San Felices de Bilibio in Haro, La Rioja.

mschrader1Over the past two months at San Felices de Bilibio in Haro, Spain, students in 3° de primaria have been constructing letters to students in the United States as a cultural project I have decided to implement this year. The goal is to connect students globally through writing and art. Each month students are tasked with a different form of communication with the other class. We started in October and to begin the project I wanted students to understand how to write a basic letter in the American letter format. Students had to include personal descriptions of themselves as well as a detailed artistic representation of who they were. The letters turned out beautifully; both classes were equally as excited to receive their new pen pal!

In November I wanted to really challenge my students. Since November is a special month in the United States due to Thanksgiving, I wanted my students to express their new knowledge of poems (we had been learning about poems in English) while also learning about Thanksgiving. We started by learning the meaning of Thanksgiving, then the vocabulary associated with it, and finally, how to express what they were thankful for.

We constructed Cinquain Poems to express what we had learned. A Cinquain poem 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 the outline was adapted 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. The students loved them. After modeling a practice poem the students practiced writing. After practicing, students edited, and then made final drafts that were quite creative. The project was open-ended in the method of portraying what my students were thankful for; meaning the poems did not have to be created line by line. Instead it was encouraged to change the format. By the end of two weeks, my students had beautiful poems that were able to convey what they were truly thankful for!

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