This week I was invited to partake of the fruits and vegetables that the 3rd graders brought in for their presentations in English class. Mrs. Brooks pairs a non-fiction researched presentation on a fruit or vegetable with a fiction piece based on a book called “Chocolate Fever”, by Robert Kimmel Smith, in which the students write their own “fever” story using their fruit or vegetable. Today, the students practiced their presentation skills and were speaking to inform (as opposed to yesterday when they did magic shows and spoke to entertain!). Their posters were vivid – many colors matched the fruit or vegetable, and there were even carrot and strawberry shaped posters. The students worked on body positioning, eye contact, clarity of voice, and enthusiasm. They did wonderfully in all of those areas, but it was the overall level of enthusiasm that impressed me.
I am not sure I have ever seen so many eight-year-olds so enthusiastic about celery, broccoli, and bananas. Each student took immense pride in his or her work, and showed me the care and detail they had put into their posters. One student wore a celery green colored shirt and the bolded sentence on his poster was something along the lines of celery being an exciting, colorful, and delicious vegetable. Apparently he had never tried it before, and had discovered a love of it through this project. Another student’s poster proclaimed, “I have asparagus fever!” and yet another, “Potatoes are cool”. One girl not only presented information about bananas, but also found a photograph of the longest banana split on record. One boy discovered information he found fascinating – more grapefruits are grown in Florida than in the rest of the world combined. He proclaimed, “This is my most favorite fact. I actually went to do more research because I was sure it wasn’t true, but it IS!” A very shy student eagerly pressed me to try the fresh-squeezed lemonade and explained how to make it. The rooms were completely abuzz with excitement, and I saw almost every student try almost every fruit and vegetable.
As an international school, the willingness of our students to try new flavors, and to look at how their fruit or vegetable fits in the world, and not just the US, does not surprise me, but each time I see examples of it, my heart is warmed by our global citizens. As a language immersion school, activities such as this are so important, as they further students’ oral language development. Each student practiced using the language in a formal way, gaining confidence and ability. Even the students newer to English were carried along by their enthusiasm and spoke well in front of the whole class. Projects such as these also deepen our students’ 21st century skills – organization, presentation, listening, research, marketing, and more skills are developed through such work. This is the type of work that students will remember. We all learned so much today- even I learned that the banana tree is technically an herb!