These fictitious fairy tale characters are actually Santa Barbara Middle School (SBMS) ninth grade students who were performing Spanish fairy tales for their wide-eyed, five-year-old audience.
This is the second year that SBMS has visited Maria Salas’ classroom and she was delighted to have the students back. “I am so happy to have the older students come back and perform for us. They do a fantastic job using their second language. As well, this is a wonderful experience for my students. They were able to see their favorite fairy tales really come to life.”
The ninth grade students from Kelly Rosenheim’s Spanish class were divided into six theatrical groups: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, and in honor of Dr. Seuss’ upcoming birthday on March 1st, The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. The students were to expressively retell their beloved fairy tale in Spanish with Spanish-style theatrics.
“I was looking for a creative way for the students to embrace their love of the Spanish language,” remarks Rosenheim, SBMS Spanish teacher, “and well-known fairy tales seemed like a great way to get the students out of themselves and into a more playful context.”
The educational benefits of this authentic learning experience were evident for both the older and younger students. James Kendrick, a ninth grade ‘Big Bad Wolf’ remarked, “I feel like we were the ones who received the gift…. This was really, really fun, and the Franklin kids are the ones that made it so.”
However, the preparation and steps to get to the kindergarten performance stage was no easy stroll through the enchanted forest for these students. First, they needed to have command of conversational Spanish. Next, they needed to be able to read and understand the familiar fairy tale, and interpret how it plays out in a Spanish language context. Then, students’ level of comprehension needed to reflect the playfulness, drama, humor, and subtle nuance found in each fairy tale. Finally, as well as memorizing lines, using appropriate voice inflection and gestures, juggling costumes and props, the students had to also keep a watchful eye on their audience and assess the five-year olds’ level of attention to be sure that they we engaged and entertained.
SBMS ninth grade student Lia Millar, a former Franklin/Cesar Chavez student herself shared, “This is more than just learning Spanish. It is an opportunity to share what we have learned.” She added, “It’s amazing how our vocabulary and pronunciation quickly improves when we have an audience in front us. It’s nice that the kids get to see our hard work. This is the reward.”
In the end, this was an ideal opportunity to enhance cross-cultural learning, create a spirit of community, and share some fun for both the kindergarten kids in Mrs. Salas class and the ninth grade students at Santa Barbara Middle School.