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Celebrating International Women’s Day as Part of a Unit of Inquiry in Grade 4 Spanish

By:  Yanina Canabal, Grade 4 Spanish Immersion Asociación Escuelas Lincoln – Buenos Aires, Argentina Yanina.Canabal@lincoln.edu.ar @canabal_yanina

In order to understand what students already know, think and feel about the topic I posed an essential question to my students after welcoming them with a big sign on my whiteboard saying: “March 8th., Happy Women’s Day!”

First of all, I started by asking if they were aware of this international celebration and then I told them that I had made a connection with a journalist from the BBC News, named Verónica Smink, here in Argentina who wrote an article about women in 2015.  What’s more, she is happy to be interviewed by us via Skype.  “Would you be willing to be part of this challenge?”, I asked my students and they responded with enthusiasm.

Right after their positive reaction, I posed the essential question: “What is the role of women and the news today?” With this essential question in mind I fostered thinking and students’ dialogue by using the strategy: “think, pair and share”. Then I presented another strategy called “graffiti-wall” and asked them to write their first thoughts that came to their mind when they thought about these two key concepts, “women and the news”.


The following step was to use one of the visible thinking routines, “see-think-wonder” to provide more thinking time and to be able to share their thoughts about the following poster.


“In 1969, Women were admitted in the Professional Society of Journalism.”


In order to make a deeper connection with my students and to approximate this issue to students’ age, I used another visible thinking routine called:  “connect, expand, challenge” after watching the following video: https://youtu.be/GpEN6-DrDLg



To stimulate students’ curiosity and engagement I proposed my students to use “The Question Formulation Technique” to create and pose their own questions to “Ask the Expert”, which in this case was the BBC News Journalist, Verónica Smink.  For this topic, the Question Focus was: “Women and Journalism now and then.”

When we got to this stage student were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview a real journalist using their own questions following the technique mentioned above, which had been used in class in previous Social Studies units.  They worked in groups following the basic rules established by this method, so they wrote all the questions that came to their mind, and changed statements into questions.  Later on, they classified their questions in open and closed questions; and last but not least, they prioritized their questions.  Together we all shared the best questions from each group and we agreed on making only one questionnaire with the best questions stated by each student.

While students were working on their questionnaire a piece of news appear on twitter,  about a “Fearless girl statue” being placed in front of the bull of Wall Street in New York City to celebrate International Women’s Day (https://youtu.be/HauPB6vAEEE).

When I showed them the video and the tweets talking about International Women’s Day, students got very excited and engaged in this current issue which was being covered in many parts of the world.  This incident cause such an impact on them that they decided to add more questions to their questionnaire.

Once the questionnaire was ready we made arrangements with the journalist to coordinate our Skype interview the following day.  Students got really involved in this topic and they felt empowered by being able to create their own questions and for having the opportunity to actually interview a real journalist about a current event that was being covered in different parts of the world. On the day of the interview, the journalist was really impressed by the type of questions the students asked and she was ecstatic to see very young student asking taking down notes of her answers in such a professional way.  Especially about a very abstract and current issue.

To be honest, I felt so proud of my students and about the article they wrote after the interview that I wanted to share this positive and real experience with you.  I hope you like it and I am inviting you to take risks and to discuss current topics at the Elementary School, with a view to making our students think and get involved in an authentic cause.

Below you can see some photos documenting our job during our full immersion Spanish Class in Grade 4.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me. After the interview and the revision of the students’ notes we worked on the characteristics and the parts of the news; we also read different newspaper articles (https://youtu.be/71zKX5HOdrk).

Then we wrote all together with my guidance a newspaper article about the experience of interviewing a journalist from the BBC News.  Once the students had the opportunity to learn the characteristics of writing a newspaper article, and having had the experience of writing one piece with the teacher.  I challenged them to write a new article about the role of women in the Iditarod.  A race that was taking place in Alaska and that students were following and studying with their homeroom teacher in English.  My students were very enthusiastic about writing this article because they had been studying the topic in English and now they were asked to give it a little twist in Spanish.  Now the focus was not just placed in the race, but in the role of women participating in such a challenging and dangerous competition.


In this picture we can see a group of students thinking and creating their own questions.  In the background you can see the Slideshow presentation, and one of the visible thinking routines that had been used. Here is the link to access the Slideshow presentation that was used in this unit.


Another group of students creating their own questions to ask the journalist about the role of women and the news now and then.


In the picture above we can see a girl asking a question to the BBC Journalist via Skype and the rest of the students, following the questions and jotting down notes of the answers given by the journalist.

References

Murdoch, K. (2015), The Power of Inquiry. Northcote, Australia: Seastar Education Ritchhart, R., Church, M. and Morrison, K (2011), Making Thinking Visible. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Rothstein, D., Santana, L. (,2014).  Make Just One Change.  Cambridge: Harvard Education Press

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