Written by Enterprise-Pilot Staff Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00
A hush fell over the East Woods Spanish class as sixth-grader Talula Balboa stood up to speak. No typical presentation, Talula had transformed herself into artist Frida Kahlo, complete with long, flowing skirt, braided hair, and those unforgettable eyebrows. The assignment given to all of the East Woods Upper School Spanish students was to research an Hispanic person or concept.
These students did so much more than read a book and write a report. Following the East Woods interdisciplinary and hands-on approach to education, each student came to school in full costume, representing the person or concept he or she had researched. The students proceeded to give a presentation as that person or concept. Whether presenting about flamenco, El Dia de los Muertos, or Ponce de Leon, the students were eloquent, articulate, and perhaps most importantly, were fully engaged in the project. The audience was able to ask questions of each presenter, and it was clear how much time each student had spent learning about his or her topic. More than that, the respect that the students showed for each other was a true demonstration of the values fostered at East Woods.
The eighth-grade Spanish students, many of whom will place into sophomore or junior level Spanish language classes at their high schools of choice next year, were required to write their reports and give their oral presentations entirely in
Spanish. This is not surprising to anyone familiar with the robust foreign language program at East Woods. Spanish is introduced to the nursery students, who study this language every year following. In third grade, French is added to
Spanish as part of the required curriculum, and in the fifth grade the students can select to focus on one or the other. Beginning in the seventh grade, all East Woods students must study Latin in addition to their foreign language of choice.
For additional information, please contact Amanda Laserson at 516-922-4400, or visit www.eastwoods.org.