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Brandon Crosses the States and Crosses the Curriculum

Brandon Crosses the States and Crosses the Curriculum

The novel Vector by Carrie Toth is set during the construction of the Panama Canal

Brandon has been on the road for three weeks now and he always thought language classes were just about nouns and verbs! Boy was he wrong! He has been digging deep into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through his studies of second language.  A lover of all things science, Brandon can really see how language will help him in his future career because he sees language as a vehicle to talk about something he loves!

For example, Brandon loves astronomy, and last week he was “super stoked” to discuss and read about the solar eclipse in Carrie Toth’s classroom. He stopped off to see how Sra. CMT inspires language acquisition through STEM-related input and was excited to see that she was using the solar eclipse as a platform for interacting in the Target Language. Sra. CMT was sharing an interesting (and level-appropriate) reading about the solar eclipse, which she shared on her blog so other students could share in the excitement!

There are several bloggers who offer subscriptions to news stories on all types of topics. Cecile Laine has a French subscription, and Martina Bex a Spanish version.   Recently Martina wrote an article about the terrorist attack in Barcelona, and although it may not be specifically related to STEM, it was still an awesome lesson about the world and people around us.

There are an infinite number of STEM topics to be discussed and explored! Many of them align perfectly with the themes and topics of Fluency Matters comprehension-based readers as well. For example, Kristy Placido has some awesome resources to study the ecology of Costa Rica, which align perfectly with her two books Robo en la noche and Noche de oro

When people think about Kristy Placido’s book Frida Kahlo, they probably think about art, not science. Surprisingly, Frida Kahlo provides an excellent and natural opportunity to learn about vaccines and their role in world health. If you are asking why/how, it’s because Frida suffered from polio as a child. Learning about the timeframe in which Frida (and other Fluency Matters readers’ protagonists lived) also provides a great outlet to study the health/medical advancements that have been made throughout the course of history!

Frida’s trolley accident can open up study and discussion on the modes of transportation that have been developed over time, from horse and buggy to the Shanghai Maglev, the fastest high-speed train in the world. Felipe Alou’s days-long bus ride in 1957 is also a great way to discuss advancements in travel over the last 70 years! Check out Carrie Toth’s fun activity to help you enrich your studies about Frida.

And what about Carrie Toth’s book, VECTOR?!  The main character, Antonio, is bitten by a mosquito and wow!…You won’t believe the effect that that little vector of venom had on his health! If reading / discussing Vector doesn’t open up discussion about world health, mosquito-born illnesses, vaccines in general and the vaccines needed for travel, we don’t know what will! On her blog, Somewhere to Share, Carrie has a great unit on environmental study centered on Vector.

And in terms of engineering…Vector provides a goldmine of information about the construction of the Panama Canal and countless opportunities to discuss the engineering required to build it! The Panama Canal is one of the world’s greatest engineering feats! Most people these days take the canal for granted, rather than marvel at the ingenious strategies used to build it and make it function properly. Did you know that originally, it was the French who had started the project? They had invested more than $260 million into the canal venture and excavated more than 70 million cubic yards of earth before the company went bankrupt and the project stopped.

From brainstorming future technologies to the ethics of today’s inventions and scientific advances, Brandon has enjoyed taking a look at the social impact of the world’s rapidly advancing technology. Even in the level 1 courses he has visited, he has seen seeds of the AP theme of science and technology as students look at their place in an ever more connected world. We have given you just a few examples, and Brandon is on a quest to find more!  Whichever you choose, we are sure that like Brandon, your students will enjoy building a foundation both in language and in STEM. Share your ideas for a chance to win a subscription to a Fluency Matters E-course of your choice!

How to enter the Flat Brandon Contest!

Enter the contest by printing out Flat Brandon, coloring his clothing  and  accessorizing his wardrobe  to reflect the AP theme your class is targeting. You may incorporate Brandon into a new “setting” by adding a new background if you like! You may even hold your own Flat Brandon contest in your classroom and select one as your official entry! Your submission should incorporate the printout of Flat Brandon AND visually communicate proficiency-mindedness through one of the 6 AP themes:

1. Beauty and Aesthetics
2. Global Challenges
3. Science and Technology
4. Contemporary Life
5. Families and Communities
6. Personal and Public Identities

Once Brandon is decorated, either send a single (digital) photograph or a collage of him participating in the unit of study so we can watch him learn and grow in global and communicative competence. Tell us in 1-2 sentences what Brandon has been up to in your classroom. We are looking for images that capture Brandon acquiring language and becoming globally minded through communicative activities that are creative, innovative, and enjoyable! Remember, the path to proficiency should be pleasant!

Share images on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #flatBrandonCIPeek and tag @FluencyMatters. You may also enter on Facebook by posting your photo on the Fluency Matters Facebook page with the hashtag #flatBrandonCIPeek. Limit ONE entry per teacher, please! The contest deadline is October 24 and we will announce our winner on October 31. The winner will receive a class subscription to the Fluency Matters’ Flip Book E-course for the novel of their choice! Up to 150 students will have full access to the E-course for 5 months (limited to current availability)! All Flip Book E-Courses include an online novel, audiobook, pre- and post-reading activities, and comprehension quizzes.

View full contest terms and conditions here.

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