Guest Post: The Gift of Reading

by Kassidy Jackson

As a former bilingual classroom teacher, Winona State University Professor Mary Hudgens Henderson knows that sometimes finding materials to support classroom learning in Spanish can be hard. This semester, Hudgens Henderson designed a project for her Intermediate Spanish classes at WSU to write Spanish children’s books for Winona Area Public Schools’ Spanish Language Immersion Program (SLIP).

“Many Spanish-language programs have difficulty getting books in Spanish for their students to read,” said Hudgens Henderson. “For this project, I wanted to have students create an authentic product that could be used in a community of Spanish-speakers.”

For the project, Intermediate Spanish students wrote fiction and nonfiction children’s books designed for either kindergarten, first-grade or second-grade reading levels. The students practiced and reviewed a range of grammar structures in preparation for writing the books, then went through a step by step process, from book proposal to storyboard to drafting. The result of the process is a complete, illustrated and bound copy of each book.

“I think it’s a really cool way to use Spanish in a practical way while also getting involved in the community,” said WSU student Madelyn Hall.

To complete the project, the WSU students will visit Madison Elementary to read their books aloud for the classes. The books will be gifted to the school and become part of the SLIP library.

Molly Toraason, a Spanish and Early Childhood Education major, said it’s the perfect way to get major experience in a classroom setting.

Toraason’s classmate Kristen Stefanczyk agreed: “It’s good real world experience; you don’t normally get that experience until you get to your career. This project allows you to get that major experience through the partnership.”

For more information, contact WSU Communications at 507-457-5024.

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