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12/19/2018

Project pushes Middle School World Language beyond classroom walls

World Language students at Cape Elizabeth Middle School have put their school on the map.


Logo from the CEMS Learns the World Project. Click photo above to go to the U.N. Global Goals map


Spanish hashtags and student-designed logos on reusable shopping bags, funded by a grant from the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation

A recycling logo designed by Juliet Moore, a seventh-grader in one of Spanish teacher Susan Dana's classes last school year, is one of thousands featured on a website showcasing projects throughout the world in support of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Collaborating with students in the Spanish town of Tafalla, Cape students created logos and hashtags for social media, and printed them on reusable shopping bags, to raise awareness of the Global Goals and to reduce the use of plastic right here in Cape Elizabeth.

The Global Goals are 17 targets set by the U.N. to make the world a more sustainable place. But, they weren't the only goals for teacher Dana when she started the yearlong "Global Collaboration: CEMS Learns the World" project last January.

One goal was to have the students use their language in a real-world setting, Dana told members of the School Board at their meeting Dec. 11, 2018. The other goal was to leverage technology to do it. "With all the technology that we have, every student has a beautiful MacBook so it makes it really easy to collaborate with students around the world," Dana said.

Collaborating by Skype and email with students in the Spanish town of Tafalla, Cape students used computer apps to create logos for social media in support of two of the U.N.'s 17 Global Goals: "Responsible Consumption and Production" (No. 12); and, "Life Below Water" (No. 14).

They also learned to make animations, and "green screen" backgrounds for video to post on social media. "I know we hear a lot of negative things about social media, but if you look at teens that's often how they connect," Dana said. Students were able to go right to Twitter and Instagram to make those connections, she said.

In addition to conversational Spanish, Cape students learned something of Spanish traditions and culture in their collaboration with students in Tafalla. They also expanded their vocabulary by learning the words associated with the Global Goals, for example, "Reduce, Reusa, Recicla," and by creating Spanish hashtags for social media. Students in Tafalla were particularly fond of one hashtag, #Noplasticoesfantastico, coined by Cape student Luke Mello. "It rhymes in Spanish, and in Spain they were very impressed that we've got this student that not only is learning Spanish but he's rhyming in Spanish, so I think that's pretty awesome," Dana said.

The logos and hashtags chosen by student vote were printed on reusable shopping bags for distribution to the community, with the help of an $800 grant from the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation. Digital citizenship and the importance of original designs, "not just taking things off the internet," was an important component of the project, Dana said.

Dana said she is collaborating by email with another teacher in Spain for a new project for this year's seventh grade, further exploring the world through language and technology. "I think we're really fortunate to have a World Language program that starts in the elementary school, and the students are learning the language," Dana said. "Then ... I think we have to push out these walls and really get them using the language in real-world situations, and hopefully this is just the start of more and more programs like this."