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Wildwood Middle Students Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Through Reading, Creating Book Trailers

The combined efforts of librarian Melanie Barrett and teacher Jennifer Porter helped eighth-graders in Wildwood Middle’s SpanThe combined efforts of librarian Melanie Barrett and teacher Jennifer Porter helped eighth-graders in Wildwood Middle’s Spanish classes celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by reading, learning and presenting about Hispanic culture.

At the end of last year, Porter’s seventh-grade students chose books to read by Hispanic authors with Hispanic main characters. The students did a virtual book tasting during which they watched video book trailers to pick which book they would read.

A student presents, in Spanish, about a book she read.The students then read their books in Spanish class while searching for examples of culture and customs as well as Spanish phrases. This year, the now-eighth-graders created their own video book trailers for the novels they read and made bookmarks with QR codes linked to their videos. The books and the students’ bookmarks are currently on display in the library to promote Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.

“We’ve used the characters from their books to speak in the language so that we’re not always just talking about ourselves and classmates,” Porter said. “They get to talk about their characters in Spanish, which is great. I’m blown away by what they’ve come up with.”

A Rockwood staff member smiles as she watches a book trailer created by a studentOn Friday, Sept. 16, the eighth-graders presented to another Wildwood Spanish class about their books, speaking to the students in Spanish to promote the books and show the trailers they created. Their book trailers were also included in this month’s “virtual book tasting” presentation that is available to students at all six Rockwood middle schools.

“This is such a great opportunity for kids to read books where they can learn about a culture that’s different than their own or a different life experience than their own,” Barrett said. “The whole idea is that’s how we build empathy, understanding, acceptance and love for each other.”

Two students smile as they discuss a book in the libraryAt the Sept. 16 event, Wildwood students were encouraged to check out some of the books from their classmates’ presentations. If a student completes the book and fills out a paper on something they learned about the culture of the people in their book, they will earn authentic Mexican candy from a local business.

Barrett and Porter said the project has also allowed students to fulfill curricular objectives such as identifying and defining character traits and themes in their books, bilingually.

A display in the library shows some promotional bookmarks created by students“These are high-level thinking skills,” Barrett said. “Plus, the opportunity to read about the immigrant experience and understand what it’s like to move someplace where you don’t understand the language, the food or the way families interact is different is so huge for these kids. These kinds of projects might give our kids the opportunity to read some things they wouldn’t normally pick up.”