world languages

Back to The Future Project: Life Cycle Snapshots in Target Language

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Ana Paula Cortez, a Portuguese teacher at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, got her 7th and 8th Grade students excited about practicing the target language during a Life Cycle unit. Students were learning vocabulary words and traditions around the birth of a child, their school and college years, work life and retirement. Ana Paula designed a project titled: “De volta para o futuro” (Back to the Future). She asked her students to create a character and fake Facebook pages to accompany the character throughout his/her life.

Objectives (Objetivos)

  • Describe past and future events (Descrever atividades passadas e futuras)
  • Speculate about destiny, professional and personal future (Especular sobre destino,  futuro profissional e pessoal.)

Enduring Understandings (Conhecimento Duradouro)

  • Values (A criação de valores)
  • How does the present establish the basis of the future? (Como o presente estabelece as bases do futuro)
  • The importance of planning for a successful future (A importância do planejamento para o sucesso futuro)

Essential Questions: (Perguntas Essenciais)

  • What values ??today will I take into my future life? (Quais valores de hoje levarei para minha vida futura?)
  • How will my actions in the present create my future? (Como minhas ações presentes vão criar o meu futuro?)
  • How to plan for success? (Como planejar para o sucesso?)

Content (Conteúdos)

  • Review of the Present Perfect Subjunctive (Revisão do Pretérito Perfeito do Subjuntivo)
  • Vocabulary related to adulthood (ex. getting married, student exchange, gap year, etc.) (Vocabulário relativo à vida adulta (ex.: casar, formar-se, fazer intercâmbio, ter um ano sabático etc.)
  • Conjugations (Conjunções)

General Instructions (Orientações Gerais) 

  • Create a page on Fakebook (fictional character – from birth to retirement) (Criar uma página no Fakebook (personagem fictícia – do nascimento até a aposentadoria)
  • 4 snapshots: before birth, childhood and adolescence, adulthood, retirement; (4 snapshots: antes do nascimento, infância e adolescência, vida adulta, aposentadoria)
  • Include all basic elements: profile, photos, videos etc; use Facebook Template (Incluir todos os elementos básicos: perfil, fotos, vídeos etc; Usar template do Fakebook)
  • Use Creative Commons images. (Usar imagens do Creative Commons)

We found a Google Apps Presentation Template to start,

Ana Paula Cortez translated the template into Portuguese and shared the file via Google Drive with her students. They each made their own copy and shared it back with their teacher.

Student examples:







Students created a page announcing the birth of the “person”, during the infancy/childhood, High School time,adulthood and retirement age.


Student comment about the project (Hint, use Google Translate to copy and paste the comments and translate into English)

By Andrew:

Este projeto foi muito divertido. Foi muito legal como criamos uma pessoa e seus amigos e familiares. Foi como fazer uma história. Eu aprendi muito e espero que possamos fazer outros projetos como este.


7 Billion Others: How are we Different? How are we the Same?

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7 Billion Others… There are seven billion other humans living on our planet. How do they live? What is important to them? What makes them tick? Do they live similar than me? Are they different than me? How?

These questions intrigued Ana Paula Cortez, one of our Portuguese teachers at Graded, the American School of São Paulo, and compelled her to explore them with her students.


In 2003, after The Earth seen from the Sky, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with Sybille d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire, launched the 7 billion Others project. 6,000 interviews were filmed in 84 countries by about twenty directors who went in search of the Others. From a Brazilian fisherman to a Chinese shopkeeper, from a German performer to an Afghan farmer, all answered the same questions about their fears, dreams, ordeals, hopes: What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?

Forty-five questions that help us to find out what separates and what unites us. These portraits of humanity today are accessible on this website. The heart of the project, which is to show everything that unites us, links us and differentiates us, is found in the films which include the topics discussed during these thousands of hours of interviews.

Objective: Raise awareness of culture and interconnectedness of common themes/threads that connect humans no matter of their cultural origin. Take advantage of our multilingual students to share and connect speakers of different languages.

Students: 7th & 8th grade Portuguese Language Learners

Project Idea: Middle School students create a video (testimonies, journal type) responding to pre-set prompts from (love, happiness, work).

Future extension idea: personalize the prompts by tweaking to address specific middle school topic…. friends, family, what do you want to be when you grow up….)


1. Discuss video filming techniques.. observe the ones recorded on

  • Framing
  • Angle
  • Stability
  • Background


2. Watch Testimony videos (students get to choose)


3. Discuss and record prompts

  • students answer the same prompts (practice orally with a partner (ex. dreams, family, country, happiness, fears)
  • record the video talking about the specific prompt (keep it short 15 -50 seconds). Students get to choose in which language (Portuguese/English/Mother tongue)
  • add subtitles in Portuguese/English/Mother tongue depending on the language they chose to record the video in
  • upload and embed to their blogs
  • write a reflection about the chosen prompt (not on video technique) and publish (Ex. Gaetano, Clara, Ivanna, Seo-Hyun, Laura, Francisco, Jason, Juan Pablo, Andrew )



4. Amplify original prompts and videos

  • brainstorm additional prompts ,what would same age kids in other countries be interested in hearing their opinions about?
  • finalize and choose new prompt to film
  • record thoughts (less than 30 seconds) Language: your choice
  • Add subtitles in Portuguese/English/Mother tongue
  • upload and embed to blog, publish

Future Idea (next school year starting August 2014):

  • having example videos, invite classes from around the world to contribute to the same prompts

Looking for Global Partner Classes

  • Are you up for it?
  • Can you see how your students could articulate, communicate and contribute to a more global understanding of “What separates us? What divides us?” How are we different? How are we the same? from the perspective of a Tweens and Teens?
  • How can you connect this to your curriculum objectives and standards? World languages, Technology standards, Media Literacy, Global Literacy, Network Literacy, Information Literacy…

Leave a comment (make sure you receive notification of follow up comment and/or fill out your email box in the comment form) if you are interested and want to be notified next school year to be part of the amplified project.