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Life Changing Stories: GSMS Bilingual Voices

School: Glenwood Springs Middle School

City/State: Glenwood Springs, CO

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Format(s): Website Essay, Video

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies

Project Overview

View Life Changing Stories: GSMS Bilingual Voice here to view the full project.

Newcomer English Language Development (ELD) Level 1 and 2 students in grades 6th-8th at Glenwood Springs Middle School engaged in an 6-weeks multimodal personal narrative project under the guiding question, “Can sharing our stories help change stereotypes we see in our community?" Students wrote their immigration stories in English and Spanish, created bilingual videos, published stories in local radio and newspaper, and one student presented his speech at a local community event. All stories were published on our class website and have been bound into a bilingual book available at production cost as well. The performance based celebration of learning started with a potluck where each family brought their most treasured traditional dish from their countries of origin. Each student presented his/her story on stage.

The learning expedition began with whole school assemblies where two adults from a community non-profit volunteered to share their immigration journey to the United States under the theme: Ask ¨What's your story?¨ instead of ¨What's your problem?¨ to build a stronger community.

Since most of the students are new to English, providing the appropriate instructional scaffolding and support was key to complete this project successfully. To help remove the language barrier, students also enlisted the expertise of a local artist, who helped students create visual journals to explore figurative language and sensory details in preparation to plan their stories. Students analyzed the immigration experience through multiple example stories in English and in Spanish written by immigrants from all over the world. Students experienced the writing process in both languages. A local performing artist coached students on the art and beauty of telling a story to a live audience as an act of giving a precious gift.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Compelling example of powerful and authentic public presentation.
  • Unique personal stories and courageous storytelling in a second language.

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