PHS Students Connect with Peers Across the Globe
Posted on 12/24/2018
Students in peruStudents in Kristi Naka’s Spanish classes at Plainville High School are connecting with peers across the globe through two unique hands on classroom projects this year.
Earlier this year, students in four of Naka’s classes began work on creating  children’s books for preschool aged children in an impoverished, remote jungle area in Peru. Through a connection from a fellow Connecticut Spanish teacher, she became aware of the “school” in Peru, where the young students have very few materials or books for learning. “The area in Peru is very remote; in fact when we were ready to ship the books to the students, I had to send them to the teacher’s house, as there was no mail delivery to where the children attend school,” explained Naka.
The PHS students each created a colorful book in Spanish for the students in Peru. They incorporated vocabulary and other curriculum components that they were learning in class as they developed the books, which were all based on the theme of “what did you do over the summer vacation?” Eighty student-made books were shipped to Peru and received with much excitement by the young students. According to their teacher, for some of the students, it was the first book that they that had ever received, gathering when the books arrived and reading them together in a circle. “The teacher in Peru sent us a short video and several photos of the students reading the books, which was incredible and heartwarming, and when I shared them with my students at the high school, they were so excited to see that their books made it to Peru and brought so much happiness to the young students there,” added Naka. “It made me feel really happy to see the kids smiling because of something I gave them. The work was worth it,” said Keira Guarco. “Seeing the excitement in their faces while they were reading the books was definitely worth the hard work we put into making them,” said Zeyana Thigpen.  “Sending books to Peru was a unique experience; when I saw their happiness with that small detail I felt so excited,” added Adriana Santiago.
The Plainville High School students are continuing their connections across the globe with pen pals in Spain. The pen pal project is an ongoing one where the Plainville students are paired with high school students in a school in Ponteareas, Spain. The first set of letters they sent were based on a set of inquiry questions written in Spanish to get to know the students in Spain, who responded in English. The letters continue back and forth with both groups of students practicing their foreign language learning skills. “ My goal with the pen pal project as well as the book project was for my students to learn how to use Spanish in real life applications outside of the classroom. It’s not just about learning correct grammar, but to learn how to communicate effectively with others across the globe,” noted Naka.  
“This is a great example of the types of experiences we want our students to have at our high school. It is an incredible opportunity for them to build understanding and empathy for the world around them, ” said Plainville High School Principal, Carl Johnson.
“This type of outreach spans well beyond the Plainville community and is exactly what our vision speaks to: preparing student for success in a global society. It is incredibly important for our students to understand how we all have the potential to make a difference in the world,” noted Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Maureen Brummett.