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For the second year in a row, all three 5th-grade classes are participating in a dialogue with 57 students from two schools in Strasbourg: Le Gymnase and Notre-Dame de Sion. Teacher Laurent Scotto di Uccio recently described the project, which focuses on writing but also ties in other subjects and the students' upcoming travel exchanges. The writing exercises take two forms--journaling and fiction. In the first, students talk about what's going on in their lives, editing and writing for publication, not for learning. As Scotto notes, “C'est l’opportunité d’utiliser le français pour communiquer en plus d’être une langue d'enseignement." In the second form, last year students produced un roman à quatre mains, or a novel written by four hands helped by a parent volunteer (Bérengère Ducloux). Last year French American students chose a theme--the crime mystery--and asked a French partner school to produce the first chapter. Our students produced the second, and back and forth it went, with the œuvre ending six chapters in. This year the assignment takes on a more journalistic vein, where students will gather portraits of individual people, chronicling what they look like and say. While the assignments are written for publication, all of the students' work is curated on password-protected Weebly.
When our 5th graders visit Strasbourg in May, they along with their cross-Atlantic partners will visit la rédaction, both the newsroom and the print shop of a major news source, Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, or DNA. What starts as an online dialogue culminates with human interaction; what begins as an in-class exercise bridges two countries. Ultimately students see the connection between writing at their San Francisco school and writing for a news source in another country.