Organizado…microonda…escritorio…compañero de cuarto.
The Spanish words for “organized,” “microwave,” “desk,” and “roommate” were among the most popular recurring terms in a project designed to get a group of middle school students excited about the prospect of attending college.
Almost 70 Spanish I and II students at Pasco County’s Centennial Middle School in Dade City recently took part in a College Culture Classroom Project that required them to create Spanish language ads and brochures describing their ideal college dorm and roommate.
The project was funded by Extra Yard for Teachers thanks to a generous grant from the Helios Education Foundation presented in partnership with the College Football Playoff Foundation, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, and Florida College Access Network in a grant program that encouraged public school teachers in the tri-county Tampa Bay region to create a college-going culture in their classrooms. The grant culminated with a March 9 trip to the University of South Florida campus that included a tour of Juniper Poplar Hall, which was the subject of many of the students’ ads.
Christine Goddard is in her second year as a Spanish teacher at Centennial Middle School and authored the project proposal. She noted many of her students had never even set foot on a college campus before their trip to USF and referred to the project as a “game-changer.”
“Many students don’t realize that you get to pick where you live, when your classes are, and what you study,” Goddard wrote in her proposal. “They also can get a preview of student life on campus and realize that attending college is not only an educational experience but a transformative social experience as well.”
The Centennial students, who were learning about housing vocabulary and how to describe people in Spanish, worked on the project between October and December. Last year, Goddard had her students work on a real estate-themed project, but this most recent College Culture Classroom Project sparked their imagination in a stronger way.
“They were trying to get started on this project and looking at housing websites while I was still talking about it,” Goddard said. “These kids are 12, 13 or 14, so they’re not going to be buying a house anytime soon. We thought college would be something that would get them to want to learn Spanish.”
Goddard added that many of her Spanish students come from low- to middle-income rural areas. Centennial Middle School launched its STEM magnet program this fall and is now one of three STEM magnet schools in Pasco, along with Sanders Memorial Elementary and Bayonet Point Middle schools. As a result, Goddard’s students are earning high school credit while they’re still in middle school, so attending college is on their radar in a significant way.
“I do have some migrant students, and I really wanted them to get on this campus,” Goddard said. “Then there are others who want to go to college, and they have older siblings who never got out of high school, so they’d be the first in their families to graduate high school. I wanted them to see a college campus and get that extra push to make them want to continue.”
For an extended look at Centennial Middle School’s visit to USF, check out the #CyclonesTakeUSF hashtag on Twitter.