Spanish class presents final books to elementary students


Photo courtesy of Mrs. Koerner

Hailey Decker, an LHS sophomore, reads the book she created for her partner, Janette.

Mrs. Emily Koerner has led her Spanish III Honors class through an innovative project where her students created books for native Spanish speakers in third and fourth grade at Mechanics Grove Elementary School in Mundelein.

The first field trip to Mechanics Grove was on Jan. 25; it was used to help LHS students meet and bond with their assigned partners. This project was recently completed on Thursday, April 26, when the LHS students went on their final field trip to Mechanics Grove to present the books they created for their partners.

The overall project was a success, according to Mrs. Koerner, but a minor challenge that was faced was the initial shyness of the Mundelein students towards the LHS students. According to Mrs. Koerner, icebreakers, such as singalongs and art and crafts activities, were a great way to help the younger students open up to their LHS partners during the first field trip.

Parker Jackim, an LHS junior who participated in the project, added, “At first, because they were shy and we aren’t native Spanish speakers, there was a language barrier. But towards the end of the first day on Jan. 25, we all really liked each other.”

According to Mrs. Koerner, before the books were completed, a local children’s author, Allan Woodrow, talked to her class about the essential components needed in a children’s book, such as character development, rising action, conflict and resolutions.

“Every student comes to this class with a different skill set,” Mrs Koerner said. “Some know how to write stories and have been taught that in [English] class and others didn’t know where to start.”

To kick off last month’s field trip, the LHS students and Mrs. Koerner visited an authentic Mexican bakery and enjoyed some churros for breakfast. Upon arrival to Mechanics Grove, the LHS students and the Mundelein students participated in another icebreaker, Spanish Bingo. According to Mrs. Koerner and Jackim, even before the icebreaker began, some kids from Mechanics Grove immediately recognized their partners from LHS and were excited to see them.

“When I just saw [my partner]…he remembered my name and jumped out of his seat and gave me a hug, so clearly it was a good bond,” Jackim shared.

After the icebreaker, the LHS students read the books that they created to their partners. Every story was unique to each Mundelein student’s lives. Jackim focused on a more political approach because that is what his partner, Gustavo, shared with him during their time together on the first field trip.

Gustavo expressed his dislike towards President Trump’s administration, so Jackim decided to make a story where Gustavo was the President of the United States, becoming the first Hispanic president.

While Jackim understood that the topic he chose for Gustavo’s book might have been too serious for a third or fourth grader, he said that “[Gustavo] seemed really touched that I made [the book] and he was thankful about it.”

As the visit concluded, the Mundelein students sang “Un Poco Loco” from the Disney movie “Coco,” and the LHS students accompanied the Mundelein students at recess.

One of Mrs. Koerner’s goals was to produce a successful learning experience for her students using project-based learning) and Jackim’s goal was to not let Mrs. Koerner and Gustavo down. Both Mrs. Koerner and Jackim agreed that their goals were achieved with the completion of this project.

“I also wanted to do a really good job for Gustavo, my kid, because he was really awesome, and I just wanted to show him that he meant a lot to me by making a really nice book,” Jackim said.

Mrs. Koerner is planning on continuing this project next year. Her students, along with the Mundelein students, want to see each other again; she is hoping to meet up again with the Mundelein students some time at the end of the year or in the summer.