Lessons around conservation, pollution and weather have jumped out of textbooks and into real life for students at Hopkins Elementary, thanks to a partnership with The Weather Channel en Español.
This month, meteorologists and experts from the Spanish-speaking channel have visited the Lilburn school to meet with groups of students and put a real-world spin on topics such as climate, ecology and recycling. The crew enlists students’ opinions and responses to the material, and the sessions are set to be aired on the network’s broadcast platforms.
“The meteorologists taught a lesson then asked questions about the weather and topics they’re already learning in their fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms,” said Principal Gabriel Zaragoza. “We had 17 students in groups of four or five who met with the crew in the media center and were recorded having those conversations that gave them the chance to apply the knowledge they already had by talking to real meteorologists.”
Fifth-grader Xavi Rodriguez Velasquez, 10, said he asked a lot of questions, despite being nervous, took away new insights on how pollution impacts weather. His classmate, 11-year-old Sonia Mancia Serpas, also peppered the meteorologists for weather info.
“It was neat to learn how they know if it’s going to rain,” she said. “It’s like the same things I’m learning in my science class, but this really inspired me to ask a lot of questions.”
As key as the lessons were to bolster concepts from the classroom, the project served a broader purpose, said Zaragoza.
“One thing that’s important for me is being connected with the community, especially the Spanish language community, that can provide opportunities for our kids,” he said. “I try to reach out to organizations that support us here where 81% of our 1,060 kids are Hispanic and speak Spanish.”
Zaragoza’s connections with various Spanish-speaking groups led to the project. A former colleague let him know The Weather Channel was interested in doing kids’ segments on weather and ecology aimed at Spanish speakers. And because the segments were conducted in Spanish, it provided a unique opportunity for students, said Zaragoza.
“They offered another way for students, many of whom are newcomers, to use their language and be proud of who they are,” he said.
It was also important that the segments were filmed in the school’s media center. “Whatever happens at the school happens for our community,” Zaragoza said. “When we do these things, we try to do them on-site during the school day because it’s often hard for our parents to come after school because of transportation or work issues.”
Zaragoza is working with parent liaisons to keep the school informed of the filming.
“The parents and the kids are super excited,” he said. “It’s something really cool, a great school experience, to be on a TV segment recorded here.”
Information about Hopkins Elementary is online at gcpsk12.org/HopkinsES.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com