A tale of two classrooms: Santa Fe Christian French class engages in group project with students in France


It is a tale of two classrooms: one in San Diego and one in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France. Recognizing an opportunity for her students to learn creatively, Santa Fe Christian (SFC) French Teacher Jenny Catteaneo connected 15 SFC students learning French to a classroom of 25 French students learning English to embark on a unique project-based learning program.

A Santa Fe Christian student enjoys a conversation with a high school French student over Zoom.
A Santa Fe Christian student enjoys a conversation with a high school French student over Zoom.
(Hannah Furnberg)

Catteaneo is an advocate of project-based learning, believing this dynamic approach opens the door for students to explore real-world problems and challenges, resulting in a deeper knowledge of their subject. Through the American Association of Teachers of French (ATF), Catteaneo connected with biology teacher Emmeline Perret at Lycee d’Arsonval, a school in the countryside of southwestern France. After much collaboration, they came up with the idea to have their two classes work together on a shared 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 more about the US.

Using technology platforms such as Zoom, Flipgrid, and Padlet, students conducted a biodiversity project at the beginning of the year where they learned about habitats and environments in San Diego and France. What has grown out of this collaboration is experiential learning, international friendships, and special memories, despite the students being thousands of miles apart. The two classes even participated in a Christmas gift exchange because of the relationships developed throughout the first semester.

After much success with the first project, the two teachers decided to have their students engage in another project. This semester the two classrooms focus on ways to be good stewards of the planet and protect the environment. Both the students and teachers alike are excited about this partnership and are hopeful for more opportunities for collaboration in the future.

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