This week, we asked Lynda Jackson, our Middle School Spanish instructor, to share a favorite story that illustrates a moment of joyful discovery when an idea really clicks and the “aha!” epiphany brings new life to learning.
Lynda’s Final Exam Story
As the end of the school year approaches, I think of many Aha moments I encountered with the middle school students in Spanish class this year. I can recall the occasions when I heard some of them say; “Aha, I understand what the story is about. I get it now.” Or “Aha, I am beginning to understand when to use the verb “es” instead of “está.” These are gratifying moments when I see that some of the complexities of the language are beginning to make sense to the students. Most encouraging of all is to see how much students have improved with their language aptitude by the end of the year.
The students recently took their final exam in Spanish. It was cumulative so they were able to show me all that they had retained from the year’s learning. In one section of the exam, the 8th grade students were given a list of vocabulary words and asked to write a short story using all of them. After reading each of the stories, I could not help but think: “These are awesome. Aha, they have learned more than they realize!” These students were able to use the vocabulary in context very effectively and to express themselves clearly in Spanish. The spelling and the use of articles, tense agreements, and prepositions were, for the most part, used properly. These students had no hesitation expressing their thoughts and ideas in a second language, and they did it well. Not to mention the stories were creative and quite funny!
Towards the end of the year, I start to feel like there is not enough time to teach them everything I want to, but then when I look at what they have accomplished, I am encouraged and feel fortunate to work with such a talented and motivated group of students.
[This post originally appeared in Rhythm & News, the Inly School newsletter, on May 22, 2009.]