Lindsay Thornquist

Hurley K-8, Boston MA

Observe best practices among dual language schools in Costa Rica to strengthen English Language Learner literacy and create a classroom culture in which all students are appreciated and validated.

Where I've Been

  • Guanacaste, Costa Rica
  • San José, Costa Rica

My Fellowship in Images

Imagine a chicken coop in the middle of your school campus! This was a great project that the 5th grade works on throughout the year. They make sure the chickens are well taken care of. In addition, they run a business selling the eggs!
The second graders are working on collecting trash to make these ecobricks. In addition to this wall, they also created benches using these bricks. This teaches the students how to be resourceful and creative!
Community meeting at La Paz is a lot of fun. The director of the school came out with a drum and all the students joined in song! Everyone had such a fun time building community!
Just a few of the impressive students I met at La Paz. They are so sweet! La Paz also organized student-led tours. I was impressed by the way the students carried themselves with an adult present.
On my to San José on this little plane. I was a little nervous getting on this small plane but I made it safely!
The Volcano Irazú was so impressive. The climate changed drastically as we drove up a long way to get to the top. It's a shame the rain and fog obscured my vision, but I still got a good look at the crater lagoon before leaving.

Your Personal and Professional Growth

How have your knowledge, skills and capabilities grown?

Visiting La Paz has opened my eyes to so many ideas and possibilities. I have gained more knowledge on student portfolios and student led conferences with parents. The new books and titles that the teachers introduced me to give me more insight into different authentic texts I could use for instruction as well as recommend to my students to read on their own. My knowledge on rain forests has increased so much and I am very excited to revamp my informative writing unit as a result.

As a result, in what ways will your instructional practice change?

I teach across content areas and plan to incorporate more project-based learning for my students. This will give them the chance to get hands on experience in real life situations they will use the skills taught in class. Also, students will now keep work in a portfolio that will be used in January to show parents the progress that their child has made since September. The pictures, videos and information I acquired visiting the rain forest in Monteverde will improve my informative unit.

What is the greatest personal accomplishment of your fellowship?

Surfing was hands down my greatest personal accomplishment! Since surf is such a big part of the culture in the community, I knew it was something I had to try. The instructor also happened to be the parent of one of the students I met at La Paz community school. It was a very trying experience and for a long part of the lesson I thought I would not be able to stand up on the board. When I finally got up, it was such an accomplishment for me. I would love to give it another go!

Impact on Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your experiences positively impact student learning in new ways?

After learning so much in Costa Rica, my students will be able to learn about the country in different ways. I look forward to teaching them and showing them what I learned in the museums as well as in the rain forests. My students will be challenged a new light as they take on different challenging projects that will incorporate what they have been learning in class. They will be come more confident in their learning and also knowledgeable in different areas across content material.

What are your plans for working collaboratively with colleagues?

Currently, I am working to see how what I learned regarding student led parent conferences can be incorporated in the school. I have been brainstorming with the principal and teachers to find new, engaging and rewarding ways for students to put on display what they have accomplished to their parents. In addition, I will be meeting with the kindergarten teacher to show ideas that I learned regarding stations in the Spanish classroom. It will be a great way for us to collaborate cross grade level.

Imagining the Future

How do you envision celebrating of your students’ new learning?

I imagine the students work on display on walls and bulletin boards. The parents will come in January after a few months of hard work to see how hard their children have been working in the classroom. I look forward to their end of unit writing project on rain forests that shows off their knowledge. They will create learner profiles that encourage to be reflective of their work and think of both their own strengths as well as areas of growth.

Are there issues or challenges in your school, community or the greater world about which you and your students might try to make a difference?

The La Paz community school has such a strong sense of the environment and natural resources around them that I hope to make my students more aware of as well. They interact within their own community as well as partner up with other organizations/programs around the area. While we do not live in a similar climate/ecosystem, I hope to make students more aware of the resources around them and what they can do to help the environment as well.

How would you describe to a friend or a grant funder the most fundamental ways in which your fellowship has changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

This has been the most valuable experience in my professional career. In the few days that I was able to visit the school, I learned so much about things that I had never imagined before. It opened my eyes to new possibilities. I noticed a change in my thinking from "We can't do that" to "What if..." and "Maybe that's not exactly something we can do but we could...". Throughout the time I was there I became more reflective and creative in ways to make the classroom and school a better place.