A story of two classes: A Christian French class in Santa Fe joins a group project with students in France

It is the story of two classes: one in San Diego and the other in Brive-la-Gaillarde in France. Santa Fe Christian (SFC) teacher Jenny Catteaneo, who recognized an opportunity for her students to learn creatively, linked 15 SFC students learning French with a class of 25 French students learning English to embark on a a unique project-based training program.

A Christian student from Santa Fe enjoys an interview with a French high school student through Zoom.

(Hannah Furnberg)

Catteaneo is a proponent of project education and believes that this dynamic approach opens the door for students to discover real problems and challenges, leading to a deeper understanding of their subject. Through the American Association of French Teachers (ATF), Catteaneo teamed up with biology teacher Emmeline Perret at the Lycee d’Arsonval, a rural school in southwestern France. After a long collaboration, they came up with the idea that their two classes would work together on a joint project. As a result, SFC students can practice their French and learn the culture and country of France in real time, while French students learn English and other information about the United States.

Using technology platforms such as Zoom, Flipgrid and Padlet, students conducted a biodiversity project earlier this year to learn about habitats and the environment in San Diego and France. What has grown out of this collaboration is experiential learning, international friendships and special memories, even though the students are thousands of miles apart. The two classes even took part in exchanging Christmas presents because the relationships had developed during the first semester.

After great success with the first project, the two teachers decided to involve their students in the next project. This semester, these two classrooms focus on ways to be good stewards of the planet and protect the environment. Both students and teachers are excited about this partnership and hope for more opportunities for collaboration in the future.

Santa Fe Christian Schools is a private kindergarten through a 12th grade preparatory school in Solana Beach.

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