Friday, September 4, 2009

Photography and Reflection

by Ann Abbott

Writing, I've always known, is not the only way to reflect. In Comunidades there is a picture of a young woman writing in a blank book (p. 128). The caption I wrote says,

"¿Es la escritura la única manera de reflexionar? ¿Hay otras maneras de expresar las ideas que surgen cuando reflexionas? ¿Qué piensas de estas otras maneras de concretizar tus ideas? Por ejemplo: dibujar, filmar, sacar fotos, charlar, crear música."

Yet in my Spanish community service learning (CSL) courses I tend to emphasize reflective writing. On the one hand, we're used to reading students' writing and we know exactly how to grade it. I used to have students do five-minute oral reflective videos with a webcamera and post them to YouTube, but many students simply couldn't handle the assignment and flooded my TAs with technical questions. Unfortunately, I had to stop using that assignment.

On the other hand, new formats can bring out new insights. So it's important that we experiment and at least try to overcome the obstacles that may arise. Many people and organizations are already doing that:

This semester, I plan to offer my Spanish CSL students a prize for best reflective photograph and caption. I'll announce it here in a few weeks.

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