Showing posts from February, 2009

Student Reflection: Satisfaction from the Little Things

by Sarah Moauro
photo: Sarah Moauro and Mrs. Anh Ha Ho

Over the past few weeks, my work at ECIRMAC has varied daily. Some days I come in and immediately begin translating documents while answering the phones that are ringing off the hook, while on others I sit around in an empty office, occasionally taking a quick call while doing some homework or reading up on ECIRMAC and its events. Usually my weekly two hours spent at the center are somewhere in the middle range between these two, working on a small scale project for an ECIRMAC employee or client. During these days are when I come across little experiences that make me think and, more so, smile.

Last Wednesday was one of these middle ground days. I came into the office, took a few phone calls – it seemed like it was panning out to be a pretty slow day. Then, about half way through my hour, one of the staff members came in looking to work on a flyer she was planning on using in the upcoming Fundraiser Dinner. She came up to me, saw the…

Is the Culture Our Students Observe in the Community "Authentic"

I was intrigued by this story about the cultural gaps between Chinatowns and China in the most recent Inside Illinois.

My students work with recent immigrants who are not "selling" their community to outside tourists.

However, the article brought to mind this question:

For students who have studied abroad, what cultural differences do they note between the Spanish-speaking country where they lived and the Latino community in Champaign-Urbana?

Another Way to Put Language Skills to Work for Good: National Language Service Corps

Government linguist. What does that term mean to you? Well, in a meeting I recently attended, that phrase set off quite a controversy. Combining the terms "government" and "languages" can be contentious.
Language educators strive to teach a language so that students can gain greater insights and respect for the peoples who speak that language and their cultures. Spanish community service learning is certainly an example of that. We want our students to work in the community in culturally-appropriate ways and to exit the community with a more informed view on immigration issues.
On the other hand, it's no secret that sometimes the US government looks at language skills as an "arm" in their military and political strategies.
That conflict of interests is hard to reconcile.
And that's what makes the National Language Service Corps so interesting. No spying. No military work. Instead, members of the corps would help in situations like these:
"A hurr…

Anecdotes Tell the Story of the Impact of Spanish Community Service Learning

Resources was the topic this week in my "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course. For the reflective essay, students had to write a fundraising letter for their community partner organization.

Students wrote great, convincing letters. The most effective letters opened with anecdotes. I want to share a couple of them here. Not only are they models of how to open a fundraising letter and hook the reader. They are also examples of why Spanish community service learning is such a powerful learning experience.

Anecdote #1
Exactly one week ago we received an unexpected phone call that left us all in disbelief. A volunteer had answered the call first, and within seconds of her trying to calm down the person on the other line with “Calme, todo estarĂ¡ bien” (“Calm down, everything will be okay”) we instantly knew something was not right. Our Spanish co-director took the call, a look of genuine concern and determination never leaving her face. We soon learned that the woman’s daughter, wh…

Spanish Community-based Projects

The Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research's information on Project Work states the following:

"In project-based learning environments students create a product that is realistic and meaningful or inquire about an issue or concern that is relevant. In so doing, they engage in a range of activities over an extended period of time. These activities include solving or analyzing a problem, analyzing a text, monitoring learning progress, evaluate learning and collaborating with others.

"Participating in project-based learning in other languages, places learners in situations that require authentic use of language (Van Lier) in order to communicate and to carry out tasks that are very much part of the world outside the classroom. Many educators strongly believe that project-based learning environments not only create opportunities for students to actively participate in their own learning but also allows them to become more self-directed learners of oth…

Inverted Social Hierarchies and Spanish Community Service Learning

Photo: Guadalupe working with Mateo Ossman (former Spanish CBL student volunteer) at the Refugee Center.
I always ask the grad students who teach "Spanish in the Community" to attend an orientation session at one of the community partners along with the students for a couple of reasons:
The TAs aren't required to volunteer during the semester, so this is their chance to actually see where some of their students work. It helps them to relate better to their students' comments and questions during the rest of the semester. They can better understand why we spend time in class talking about answering phones and classroom management techniques if they have heard the supervisors talk about those issues themselves.It also opens their eyes to what is going on outside of campus. Many of our TAs have similar university experiences as our undergrads--living in a campus bubble.One of my TAs recently sent me a summary of her trip to the orientation at the Refugee Center. I was str…

Website to Help Adults Learn English

Do your Spanish community service learning students tutor Latinos and help them learn English? Many of my students who work at the Refugee Center do, and this website can help them.

Prof. Ann Bishop Named University Scholar

Congratulations to Ann Bishop for receiving the University Scholar honor!You can read more about her scholarship in this Inside Illinois article.Let me list the ways that Ann's work is important for the Spanish & Illinois program:Her community informatics courses incorporate service learning.She is Head of the Civic Engagement Task Force.Students who were in both of our courses took what they learned about community informatics and made a website for the Refugee Center ( when they had none.She founded S.O.A.R.--the afterschool tutoring program at Booker T. Washington in which many of my SPAN 232 and 332 students work.She has worked closely with Ben Mueller and others on the Latino Media Initiative. Ben produces Nuevos Horizontes, a Spanish-language radio program that my students utilize to improve their listening comprehension skills.Her summer interns in Paseo Boricua in Chicago have worked under the umbrella of the Spanish & Illinois Summer Internships.I…

What are the Connections between Project-based Learning and Community Service Learning?

Spanish community-service learning puts students into the middle of complex, real-world problems. Some problems my students have faced and helped chip away at include: Gathering and organizing volunteers to help pull off a fund-raising dinner.Helping immigrants/refugees file their tax returns.Aiding a teacher who is trying to attend to her students' individual needs while at the same time making progress with the class as a whole. (My students often work with individual students on their reading or math while the teacher attends to other students' needs.)Addressing the community's need for safe, educational after-school care (SOAR).Providing Boy Scouts with uniforms.And many more.However, students dash in and out of the community for two hours a week and may not fully realize "the whole story" or see that their task is just one aspect of treating "the whole problem."That's where I see the advantages of project-based learning for our Spanish community…

"I never thought I'd be the teacher who..."

I was reading a Parenting magazine the other night and laughed out loud when I identified with a couple of these quotes.

I never thought I'd be the mom who...
...doesn't cook when her husband goes out of town....doesn't brush her children's hair every single day.It made me think, what if you substituted the word "Spanish teacher" for "mom"? Here's some of mine. I never thought I'd be the teacher who......doesn't brush her own hair before teaching. Look at my hair in this picture--ack!
...gets e-mails from her students wondering when they're going to get their homework graded....makes up the lesson plan in her head while walking from my office to the classroom....writes on the chalkboard even when I teach in the College of Business building that has all the fancy technology....momentarily forgets what the capital of Paraguay is....hasn't read a book in Spanish in longer that she will actually admit!...doesn't have the Spanish eq…

Student Reflection: A Balancing Act

by Megan Knight

When I started tutoring at Leal, I was worried the kids would not take me seriously and they would not listen to anything I said. However, every time I have had to take my fifth graders out into the hall to do work, they always do everything I say and never complain. While I do enjoy knowing that the kids respect me, I also want them to feel comfortable with me and see me as their friend. And I think this is starting to happen.

Two weeks ago, I was working in the hallway with a girl from my fifth grade class, and she started to talk about her friends and family. It was nice to take a break from the work and actually get to know a student. Now when I go to class, she always makes eye contact with me and smiles and waves, and it makes me feel more at ease. I think it’s good to find a balance between work and play, and I’ve decided that it’s my goal to learn all of the students’ names and at least one fact about them.

Last week when I was working with one of my fifth g…

Student Spotlight: Sara Gibbs

Examples are really important. When teaching an abstract concept, it's important to give examples. Whenever I'm starting a new project of any kind, I look around for examples and structures for me to build upon or adapt. Whenever I'm writing an article, I include examples to ground the main ideas.

I think it's also really important for students to see examples of other successful students. So I like to use this blog to highlight the successes of former Spanish community-based learning students.

Talk about successful: Sara Gibbs was an absolute stand-out student. She took both "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" with me; she aced both courses. She was a real leader in her team project, bringing the Girl Scouts on as a community partner and building a sustainability plan for that partnership. She worked in the Office of Volunteer Programs and helped put on their annual conference. She studied abroad in Ecuador and volunteered…

Student Reflections: Working up the SPAN 332

by Sarah Moauro

Normally, the route that students take to SPAN 332 is by enrolling first in SPAN 232: Spanish in the Community. This class, as many of you know, involves learning how to work within our community while volunteering in the same organizations for SPAN 332. However, I chose a slightly different route. I had signed up for SPAN 232 and a volunteer position, but for a number of reasons, I realized early on that the actual classroom setting was not going to cooperate with the rest of my schedule. I had to drop the class, but luckily I was able to keep my volunteering position.

Although SPAN 232 is a prerequisite for SPAN 332, my volunteer experiences were able to let me bypass the classroom requirement. Roughly twice a week (sometimes more or less, depending on the crazy schedules that so nicely come along with being a student), I spent an hour at Champaign Central High School helping English as a Second Language (ESL) students with their homework. About 4 or 5 of us, all…

Student Reflection: The Most Rewarding Experience

by Megan Knight Last week, when I went to Leal Elementary School for my volunteer work, something amazing happened. As I walked into the office, a young Hispanic woman followed me. Our eyes met, I smiled and said, “Hi,” and she smiled politely back at me. As I started to fill out my work log and find my nametag, the woman sitting behind the desk began to talk to the Hispanic woman.

After a minute, the woman behind the desk asked the woman if she needed someone who spoke Spanish, and the woman nodded yes. The lady behind the desk told her that the secretary would be back soon, and that she thought she spoke a little Spanish, but they would have to wait.

I stood there for a second not knowing what to do. I was afraid to offer to help the woman because what if my Spanish wasn’t as good as I thought it was and I couldn’t understand anything she was saying? But, on the other hand, what if the secretary comes back and doesn’t really speak any Spanish and the Hispanic woman would be helpless? I…

Part 3: What Constitutes Meaningful Service for Spanish Community Service Learning?

Once again, I am responding to the great information in the latest issue of "The Generator," the National Youth Leadership Council's newsletter.

The "Teacher Tools" section focuses on the reflection stages: What?, So what? and Now what? Specifically, this issue invites us to consider how students can assess community needs in the "What?" stage and "go deeper" with meaningful service in the "Now what?" stage.

They provide very useful suggestions as to how students might begin to assess community needs:
Conduct a neighborhood assessment, or “walkabout,” listing observable assets and needs in a defi ned area (the school yard, a single block or multiple-block area).Interview school board members or community council members.Survey classmates and teachers.Invite community agencies to a “service fair” held at the school; students can then hear a variety of agency perspectives.Convene a “Gathering of Elders” to assess persistent needs observ…

Students: Help Out at Hope Community Health Center

The message below from Dr. Cristina Medrano just arrived. If you can help out, please contact the clinic directly. SPAN 232 & 332 students: this can count for your CBL hours.

We have a need for 2 translators this coming Sunday, Feb. 15th from about 5pm - 8pm at our clinic.

We will also need 2-3 translators on Thursday, Feb 19th from 1:30- about 6pm. If you could come for some of that time that would be great.

I appreciate your help,

Cristina N. Medrano, MD
CEO, Hope Community Health Center
507 South 2nd Street,Unit 1-A
Champaign, IL 61820
Office Phone: 217-352-0600
Fax: 217-352-0601

Part 2: What Makes Spanish Community Service Learning Meaningful?

Again, NYLC's latest newsletter is so full of good information that I want to continue picking up on its various threads. In the Research section, Bjorn Lyngstad writes about "Creating Meaning, Addressing Needs" and specifices that, "Though meaningful service implies service that is perceived as benefi cial to its recipients and to the larger community, this article will focus on the importance of meaningfulness as defined by the service providers." He then goes on to connect relevant research results to the standard of "Meaningful Service." A few things stood out to me as particularly relevant to Spanish CSL: Quote: "Furco (2002) found that the students who were most strongly influenced by their service experiences were engaged in meaningful service activities that challenged them to some degree or ones in which they had responsibility and interest." Spanish CSL: This immediately reminded me of one of the tenets of second language instruction…

What Constitutes Meaningful Service for Spanish Community Service Learning?

The latest newsletter from the National Youth Leadership Council is chock-full of great information. (Thanks, Val, for posting it in the Ning group. Your links are so useful and always lead me to reflect--and act!--on my practice.)

If you're interested in community service learning, then I'd suggest reading through the whole newsletter. Here, I'd like to make some connections specifically to Spanish community-based learning.

Of the eight K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice, one article in this newsletter focuses on the first standard, "Meaningful Service" and lists the indicators for meaningful service. Although these standards are for K-12, they certainly hold truths for university educators doing community service learning as well.

I will focus on these indicators in this post and then explore the rest of the article in another post.

Meaningful Service Indicator #1:Service-learning experiences are appropriate to participant ages and developmental a…

Student Reflection: Sarah Moauro

Hi! I’m Sarah Moauro, a senior in International Studies.

This semester I’m enrolled in SPAN 332: Spanish and Entrepreneurship. The class focuses on social enterprise, businesses that exist in order to improve social conditions. By taking this class, I’ll get a first hand experience of working with a social business in our community.

Through this semester, I’ll be sharing my experiences as a volunteer at the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (ECIRMAC). This is a non-profit organization in Urbana that dedicates itself to helping refugees and immigrants resettle in the area.

I’m excited to have this as a final send-off before I graduate. I feel like through taking this class, I’ll be able to get some incredibly useful experience while helping out what has been my community for the past four years (while practicing my Spanish and getting a great resume builder on top of it all!).

I’m still settling into my position at ECIRMAC, but after only working a handful of days, I f…

How do you "teach" cultures?

Guest blogger: Darcy Lear
To get students to start thinking about cultures as complex, dynamic practices I ask them to engage in a three-step process:
1-acknowledge your initial emotional reaction to a cultural practice

2-step outside of your own experience and try to imagine you have not experienced this practice

3-what are possible reactions to that practice as seen from the outside?

The first assignment asks students to select something mundane from their own lives, but that others might not have experienced (being a member of a specific campus organization, a particular skill or talent, having lived abroad, a sibling with special needs--anything that they take for granted) and apply this three-step analysis. 
I use the example of my reaction to finding out that Ann could not swim. That piece of information was inconsistent with my world view that any smart, educated person with whom I associated would obviously know how to swim. I had to step outside of my assumptions to analyze my nega…

What Would Bill VanPatten Think about Spanish Community Service Learning?

Bill VanPatten taught me how to teach Spanish.

When I was a new graduate student at the University of Illinois, I took his proseminar for foreign language teaching. I loved the way that he really practiced what he preached: he taught the seminar with exactly the same techniques that he told us to use in our own classes. I was enthusiastic but very green at the time. Seventeen years later, I think I have been able to practice many of the concepts he has researched and articulated as best practices in foreign language teaching.

In the January 2009 issue of The Language Educator, VanPatten outlines four fundamentals of language teaching (p. 5):
The exchange of real information among participants is at the core of learning.There ought to be no focus on grammar or other formal properities of language unless meaning is simultaneously in focus.Language is bigger and more abstract than what we could ever teach, so all we are doing is providing a means for learners to bootstrap themselves int…

Pragmatics and Spanish Community Service Learning

For their first reflection assignment, students in SPAN 232 who hadn't started their work in the community yet had to visit this blog and write a reaction to one of the posts.

More students commented on "Are Spanish-Speakers from Venus and English-Speakers from Mars" than any other post. Students who have studied abroad have experienced these cultural "misunderstandings" themselves and have their own stories to tell. And students who haven't studied abroad yet understand that culture and language will be tied together when they begin their work in the community.

So I thought I'd mention the resources in this area that the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) offers:
This page offers an array of information and tools for teaching pragmatics / speech acts.This summer they will offer a 5-day workshop on "Language and Culture in Sync: Teaching the Pragmatics of a Second Language." (Click here to see the full schedule of summer…

Video Clips of Advice for Entrepreneurs

I attended our Faculty Retreat on Friday and walked away with a lot of information. I found a little gem among all the urls, articles, abstracts and contact information: Standford University's Entrepreneurship Corner.

It's a great site to just take some time to explore. I especially liked the videos.

Now I haven't looked at every single video from every single speaker, but nothing emerged from my browsing that talked about language and culture. Nothing.

On the one hand you could say that means that they aren't important to entrepreneurship.

On the other hand you could say these entrepreneurs are missing out on some really great opportunities because language and cultural differences blind them.

Student Reflection: Back to School

by Megan Knight

This past week I started my volunteer work at Leal Elementary School. I work with two different classes: a first grade class and a fifth grade class. In the first grade class I worked one on one with the cutest little first grader named Maria. She read a story about bears and then I had to test her comprehension. We also used flash cards to test her vocabulary. It was very laid back and fun. Now, the fifth grade class was a whole different ballgame. I was introduced to about 20 Hispanic fifth graders from Mexico, Costa Rica, and Peru. I was actually really nervous having to work with these kids because they understand so much more and they will notice if I conjugate a verb incorrectly or if I use the wrong word. They all seemed like really nice kids and we just worked on reading comprehension in their class as well, but I feel like they will keep me on my toes this semester! I’m hoping they’ll see me as more of a friend than a teacher’s assistant and hopefully we’ll be …

Students: Another Opportunity to Use Your Spanish and Build Leadership Skills

La Casa Cultural Latina is looking for a student to facilitate its Convo Table.SPAN 232 students: This would allow you to learn more about the Latina/o community on campus at the same time you are working with Latinos off campus.SPAN 332 students: Want to change your team project? If you want to switch, just update your information on the wiki.Spanish Honors Students: This would make a terrific James Scholar Project for one student.Act fast on this! Dean Lozano sent this message:We would really like to find a student to facilitate the program so that we can start it up again this month.Here is the specific information about being the Convo Table and being the Facilitator:Convo Table InformationConvo Table Facilitator DescriptionPlease contact La Casa directly. This is a great opportunity that I'm sure will interest many, so contact them soon.

What do we mean by "culture" in the foreign language classroom?

Guest blogger: Darcy Lear

Far too often the teaching and learning of cultures in language classrooms is along the lines of "mariachi=Mexico, tango=Argentina, salsa=El Caribe, flameno = Spain (as seen at left)." 
Language teachers have tried to move away from such static views of culture (what Ann Abbott calls "culture in a box") and the advent of methodologies such as community service-learning have helped. 
But surely in the day and age of globalization and the acknowledgement that universities have to prepare students for careers that do not yet exist, we must find ways to talk about culture that embrace its dynamic nature. 
One thing I tell my students is "one word is never enough." If you are using a single word to identify a person or group of people, you have vastly over-simplified. None of us are just brown or black or white; teachers or students; parents or employees. 
I encourage students to refuse to treat anyone as if they are defined by a sing…

Students: Attend a Workshop about International Jobs

Lynnea Johnson from Illinois CIBER sent this message: Please join us for the International Careers in Government and the Non-Profit Sector workshop
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
6:30-8:30 pm Levis Faculty Center
Professionals and distinguished alumni will talk about preparations for international careers in government and the non-profit sector. This workshop will give you practical advice on opportunities, expectations and preparations for international careers in these two fields.
6:30-6:45 pm
Lynnea Johnson, Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER)
:45 - 7:00 pm
Brian Flora, Diplomat in Residence, University of Illinois in Chicago
7:00-7:15 pm
Shari Stout, International Trade Specialist, US Department of Commerce
7:15-7:30 pm
Meg Thilmony, Global Village, Habitat for Humanity
7:30-7:45 pm
Carl Burkyble, Caring for Kenya
7:45-8:00 pm
Ashlee McLaughlin, Peace Corps
8:00-8:15 pm
Question and Answer Session with Panelists

Students: A New Opportunity to Work in the Community

University of Illinois Extension and the Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies have teamed up to provide an important service to Latino youth in Champaign-Urbana: Story Time.

I recently received this information from Julia Bravo Bello:

I am working with Alejandra S-Seufferheld, the outreach person in CLACS, in some projects for Hispanic/Latinos families and children in the BT. Washington school. This specific project “Spanish Story Time,” is an after school program for children from first grade to third grade. In this program we interact a bilingual story with music and art and craft. The program will start in the Douglas Branch Library on February 12 at 3:30 and will finish at 5:00 pm for first to third grades children. After 5:00 pm we will be working with children who are in fourth and fifth grade at Shadowood Community Center while another group at the same time “Hope and Community Health Center” will be working with families. We would like to ask you if you have any studen…

Culture Shock Blog

Today I received the newsletter from the National Capital Language Resource Center. I clicked on the link to the Culture Shocks Blog and enjoyed a few minutes of reading the stories--some that I have experienced myself and others that were new.

Some of the stories would make a good starting point for a lesson plan on cultural analysis in general or on specific cultural points.

And while these stories seem to concentrate on people experiencing culture shock when they are in a different country, I think it would be a great assignment or reflection prompt to ask students to read some of the entries on this blog first, and then relate any "culture shock" moments they have experienced in during their work in the community.

Culture of course could be defined more broadly than on the blog. It could be two national cultures in conflict. But in Spanish community service learning it could also be defined as:
university culture versus professional cultureyouth culture versus "sen…

Why did the crime rate go down after immigrants were forced out of Hazelton, PA?

Darcy Lear continues her series on the teaching of "cultures" with this post:

This semester I am teaching the "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" First Year Seminar again and the theme is "Latino Youth." 
To get the semester started, I had students research three towns in the U.S. that had large Spanish-speaking immigrant populations. They were asked to do two things: research the reaction to immigrants and the results of those reactions. 
When one group reported that there had been a drastic drop in violent crime after many Spanish-speaking immigrants had been driven out of Hazelton, PA we had to stop the class to do a meta-analysis of our reactions to that. The first reaction: immigrants were committing violent crimes. 
When I asked what other reasons could be, the first suggestion was that with any drastic decrease in population, crime is bound to decrease proportionately. Nobody's first reaction was that the immigrants were victims of crime. The wa…

Why is "social justice" in the course description?

Guest Blogger: Darcy Lear, a colleague of Ann's, who also works in Spanish & Entrepreneurship, Spanish for the Professions, and Community Service-Learning begins her contribution to the blog with this post...

I am so proud of the guidebook produced by the students in the fall 2008 section of the First Year Seminar I teach at UNC-CH: "Spanish and Entrepreneurship: Language, Cultures, and North Carolina Communities." It is a comprehensive guide to businesses and services available to Spanish-speakers in our county. The assignment was to gather all the information, but students went above and beyond, forming and re-forming groups to publish the guidebook.
At the end of the course, student feedback revealed that they all agreed that "social justice" had to be removed from the course description. We had not talked about social justice at all and I didn't plan to talk explicitly in those terms in future sections of the course so I took those words out. But I…

How to Read Your Professor

Before teaching my Spanish & Entrepreneurship course yesterday, I went on-line to see what kind of grades my students got on their first quiz and to read their reflective essays.
I was surprised to see that several students hadn't taken the quiz or written their reflection. Furthermore, while some students had written really great reflections--really great--others had missed the mark. Some hadn't written the minimum of 250 words. Some hadn't used specific examples to prove their points. Some didn't really make much of a point beyond the obvious.
I know that all of my students are smart. My students amaze me all the time, so that's one thing that I'm sure of. I also know that these students know how to write reflections because they had to do it in their previous Spanish community service learning course.
So what happened?
I didn't stand in front of the class and say, "Y para el martes tienen que tomar la primera prueba in Compass." "For Tuesd…

Student Reflection: Gotta Get There

by Megan Knight

Because I live in Champaign and decided to volunteer at Leal Elementary School in Urbana, and because I do not own a car (a tragedy I know! Try explaining that to my parents!), I will be relying on the CUMTD to get me to the school. I’ve always been a stickler for being on time, and I’ve never enjoyed having to rely on others to take me places, so it’s a bit of a challenge for me to be at the mercy of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. It is nice to finally have an excuse to venture over into Urbana since I don’t usually spend much time there aside from when I’m in class. I really like the neighborhoods and the houses with all the trees and bushes surrounding them. I also really like that Leal appears to be in a pretty nice part of town and I feel safe walking around by myself there. Although it is somewhat of a hassle to have to wait for the bus and then walk about five blocks from the bus stop to the school, I think it’s good to take advantage of the free pub…

Student Reflection: Megan Knight, Student Blogger

An Introduction

Hi! I am Megan Knight and I am taking Spanish 332, Spanish and Entrepreneurship. Last semester I took Spanish 232, Spanish in the Community, and I absolutely loved it. I had Marcos Campillo as my TA and he was so energetic and so much fun that he really made me look forward to the class. I think volunteering is incredibly important and beneficial to society and I think the idea of CBL classes is amazing. I’m planning on going to grad school for my MSW (at least that’s the plan now, but who knows what it will be next week) so I obviously want some experience doing volunteer work. I’m thinking about going into school social work, so for that reason I decided to volunteer at Leal Elementary School this semester. I’m very excited!!

Community Partners Don't Want Students to Be "Plugged In" on the Job

Do you leave your cell phone on when you work in the community? Do you have Facebook on in the background when you're working on a computer in the community? Do you look at your "gadget" every time you have an incoming message? Do you try to text while you think no one is looking?Do not do these things. Period. Your participation grade will be lowered if you do this. The message below is from Ms. Noyes at BTW, but the information applies to students working everywhere.As volunteers begin working in classrooms at Booker T. Washington, please remind them of the importance of leaving their cell phones off while they are at our school. Apparently one of the volunteers was texting during interaction with students. I covered this during our orientation; however, sometimes this guideline needs to be reinforced. I assured the classroom teacher that we’d handle this.

Social Networking Sites for Language Learning

The January 2009 issue of The Language Educator has an interesting section about social networking and language learning. (See my previous post about social networking and Spanish community service learning.)

In the articles, two language instructors detail their experiences using Facebook and Ning. But those two sites do not specifically target language learners. These sites compiled by The Language Educator, do:

langtice VerblingBabbelBusuuHello-HelloItalkiLivemochaVoxSwapXIHA LifexLingo I'd love to check these all out, but I'm facing a huge deadline for tomorrow, another one for Friday, and another one around the corner. So I'd like to leverage the energy and smarts of our Spanish honors students to use and evaluate these sites.

Here's what students who want to do a James Scholar Learning Agreement for SPAN 208 or 228 can do:

Choose one of the sites from the bulleted list above.Join and use the site for at least one hour a week for a total of at least ten hours.Go to…