At ESS: Food fest culminates year of international lessons

What better way to end a whirlwind tour of the world then a tasty international cuisine.
An international food festival was just how Amanda Wandishion’s fourth grade reading and literacy class at Elizabeth Shelton School celebrated the culmination of The World & I: A Multicultural Experience — what the innovative instructor described as her students’ passport to the world.
“Our job is to expose our students to cultural tolerance,” said Wandishion about the food festival held Thursday, May 30, at the school. “This project was a wonderful success, and the kids loved it.”

Wandishion said she had the students use Newsela, an innovative online program which lets students pick from an array of interesting stories curated directly from current events. Besides being interesting to read, the material is matched precisely to each student’s reading level and interests.
Newsela also incorporates robust reading-comprehension exercises as well, which makes it a bit like the SRA reading boxes that were a mainstay in classrooms from the ’60s through the ’90s. The difference here is in the sheer volume of web-based reading material and the precision with which the software — and teachers such as Wandishion — can ensure that it is both level-appropriate and challenging for the student.
For Wandishion’s 48 fourth graders, the goal of using Newsela was to provide an opportunity for student-driven exploration and education of countries and cultures around the world while exercising both English language arts skills as well as social emotional skills.
And the reward for the yearlong effort was an international food festival, which featured creations from family recipes as well as delicacies from Maria V’s and Artan’s Pizza, both in Shelton, and Asian Village in Trumbull.
“This was a cool, student-led project,” said Wandishion, who, earlier this school year, was named the Shelton school district’s innovator of the month. “They had a great time reading and learning about the world around them. Newsela is a way for students to get exposure to different cultures and countries, while helping with reading, vocabulary and writing comprehension.”