How do you keep students engaged when their educational environment changes without warning?
Spanish Language teacher at Santa Clarita Valley iLEAD International School, Erika Cedeño, found the answer in the kitchen where she set up her computer in order to demonstrate to her students how to cook Chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish usually enjoyed during breakfast.
Mrs. Cedeño is one of thousands of teachers around the world who have had to adjust to a new reality of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while many of her lessons were designed around projects, she was concerned by the transition to distance learning for her students.
"At first I was very skeptical, I thought that they were not going to show up [to the virtual classes], that parents were going to be busy ... but, on the contrary, there were several moms helping," says Mrs. Cedeño about her first week teaching Spanish vocabulary to students online and through a recipe.
Previously, the teacher had sent parents a list of ingredients that the students would use to cook. She also sent out the invitation to join, making the project a family affair.
"I feel that when you cook at home, that scent that you create in your house stays ingrained and when you grow up and smell it, you say: 'oh, it smells like home!'" the teacher explained that staying at home is also an opportunity to connect with your loved ones.
As a project, the students of this Spanish class will record themselves preparing their own recipe and explain it using the vocabulary and grammar they’ve learned in their class.
Even before before social distancing, project-based learning was already popular with teachers around the world. In fact, several charter schools have focused their work around this practice and SCV iLEAD is not the exception. In Mrs Cedeño's exercise, for example, her students will not only practice their Spanish when the teacher shows them the recipe. She has asked them to create a video with their own recipe. The project allows them to practice vocabulary as they create their homework. In the end, they showcase the result and reflect on how each step led them to complete their project and how the experience contributed to their learning.
About iLEAD International Charter Schools
Mrs. Cedeños Spanish classroom. No students present during distance learning due to Covid-19 virus.
At iLEAD we’ve built a model based on what we believe to be
the best of all that is out there. We believe passionately in project-based learning not because it’s a fad but because it goes to the heart of how kids learn. We’ve incorporated technology not as a spiffy add-on but as an organic part of the learning process in the 21st century.
We value and encourage leadership not just as a part of a career track but by instilling in each learner the confidence and character that inspire others.