Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers/Association canadienne des professeurs de langues secondes
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2003 Recipient of the H.H. STERN

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Innovation in Second Languages Award
"Second Languages Matter"

Helen Coburn

Los cuentos para los ninos
(Short stories for Children)

Description of the project:

Project audience: Spanish 20 students or any intermediate level Second Language Class

Description of the project:

Students wrote a short children's story in Spanish. The following were criteria:
a) Written in the past tense, using pronouns
b) Three sentences per page
c) At least one cultural component had to be included
d) Illustrations to support
(see over for continuation of description)
Evaluation and presentation of the project:

Two forms of evaluation/presentation were done:

1) The whole class met at the Spanish Bilingual Academy in Calgary where we met Kindgarten, Grade 1 and 2 students and each team of two students were organized with a small group of children. The instructor listened to each group as the stories were told to the children. Evaluation was based on such components as voice intonation, explanation of vocabulary, picture description all within a marking rubric out of 32 marks. The children at the Bilingual Academy loved the experience and afterwards we shared a Spanish-style Mexican lunch.

2) In-class evaluation was also done. Students were instructed to write a series of ten questions about their stories which were subsequently handed out to groups of students. As the students listened to the story being read they were responsible for writing down the answers to the questions. The presenters were then required to mark the answers and submit the marks for evaluation to the teacher. At the same time the teacher was evaluating the presenters using similar criteria to #1.

Mis Coburn write: "N.B. The teachers at the Spanish Academy were so impressed they even requested to keep some of the "cuentos" my students had written to add to their repertoire. Since money is always an issue, these cuentos have come in handy for them to use as first readers, since the vocabulary is still relatively simple, it shares cultural components of the second language and the students love doing it!"

Autobiography of Ms Coburn:

I have been teaching since 1981 first at the Junior High School level in French as a Second Language and then at the High School level beginning in French as a Second Language and then initiating the Spanish Program at Bowness High School in Calgary where I have been since 1995. I have also been involved with reviewing the curriculum for the new Spanish Bilingual School in Calgary and have recently been awarded a sabbatical for the 2003-2004 school year to pursue Masters studies in Curriculum and Instruction.

For more information and deadline dates
for the H.H. Stern Awards for Innovation, click here.

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