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Marblehead Students "Migrate" to Mexico through Mariposa Project

8 November 2010

Marblehead class

Marblehead educators are working with Primary Source to globalize their curriculum, and they have found creative ways to do so with some of their youngest students. Mary Devlin, principal of the Glover and Eveleth Elementary Schools, and Sue Gravel, Marblehead's K-6 language arts and social studies coordinator, started a conversation about globalizing curriculum while on a Primary Source study tour to China and continued their exploration during the organization's 2010 Teaching for Global Understanding summer institute. The two have since been working with teachers to identify where links can be made to global education across the K-6 curriculum.

Carol Arnould is a second grade teacher at the Glover School who has taken Marblehead's global education initiative to heart. Her entire classroom is characterized by global touches: a "world map" carpet lines the floor, each table represents one continent and features books on the region, and students rotate through the tables over the course of the school year, gaining exposure to different areas of the world. Arnould has recently developed a unit called "The Mariposa Project" to engage her students in global learning. Combining world culture, geography, art, and science, the students are learning about the migration of the monarch butterfly from the United States and Canada to Mexico and are immersed in a hands-on learning experience about Mexican culture in the process.

The students began by studying the life cycle of the butterfly and tracking the migration of the monarch. As part of "Symbolic Monarch," an online exchange initiative, the students moved on to the cultural component and collaborated to create a "Marblehead Monarch" paper butterfly representing aspects of their culture and city. The students then sent the butterfly to a Mexican classroom, along with letters in English and in Spanish, and await the "migration" of another symbolic butterfly from the Mexican students representing their city and culture. Through this cross-cultural collaboration, the students are discovering many similarities and differences that exist among them and their Mexican peers and have developed a desire to continue learning about people in other cultures across the world.

Proud of their accomplishments and eager to share their learning, Arnould's students call themselves "The Mariposa Class" and presented their project to the rest of the school at a Community Meeting in October. Arnould plans to continue The Mariposa Project by delving more deeply into teaching her students about Mexican culture, while Devlin and Gravel are working to incorporate China into the curriculum with units about silk worms, Chinese music, and group calisthenics.

Marblehead Mariposa Project

The "Marblehead Monarch"

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