Thursday, 21 February 2013

Celebrating the many languages at Thornwood

One of the many posters adorning the halls at our school this week.

Today was one of those days that make me very proud to teach, because I am so very proud of my students. At Thornwood PS, we have been celebrating for weeks leading up to today: "International Mother Language Day". Posters adorn the school halls, morning announcements ring with many languages, students sharing songs from home during our sharing time in class, and today's whole-school assembly. The families of our community were invited to join this event, and a team of junior students were equipped with iPads so that visiting family members could live-tweet the assembly, and those tweets were projected on the wall for us to follow. At the same time, projected up front were images and stories of languages in Thornwood and the community. What a school!


My class were invited to share our "We Can Count" Voicethread.

(Note: mobile users may see a blank space above where embedded Voicethread is posted. If so, please Click here to view the book in the free VT app).

This project, started in December, came about when two PM-class girls showed me how they could count to 10 respectively in Mandarin, and Farsi. I asked if they could teach me. Then I grabbed a flip-cam, had them demonstrate, and showed the rest of the class during our sharing time. Inspired by the reception, I proposed a counting book in the Voicethread style we had already been using for an ongoing construction inquiry. Sparks caught, fire was burning! Once I posted the book online on my class site, feedback started coming in from families about how proud they were of their children, or how their child could count in another language not yet featured in our book. A particularly proud moment for us came when one student's mom asked me about our project one day after school. I learned that he had gone home and asked for help to learn how to count all the way to ten in Telugu, and she wanted to know why he was suddenly so interested. Of course I was delighted to then add him to the book, and let the family know it was posted on my class site for home use. Later in December this student left to visit India, and there he proudly showed our book to family and friends.


Today was another highlight. Familiar faces smiled from the visitors seats, and two excited and nervous senior students from the morning class stood with me at the front of the gym as we introduced our book. They then took the microphone to show how they do it: first in Tamil, then in Portuguese. I heard later from our reading buddies that the grade fives were amazed at how brave those students were to speak in front of the assembled crowd. I had to agree.

As we left the assembly and walked back to our class, many kind words and praise were heard from older students we passed. "I speak Tamil too!", "I loved your book" and "You did a good job!" (spoken to the students who'd stood up with me). What a great day. What a great school. I wouldn't trade my job for anything.

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