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Showing posts from October, 2012

Student Reflection

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By Michelle Lee

Working in Garden Hills Elementary School for the past month and a half has been a rewarding experience. Each week I can see improvement in my student’s math and reading skills, which makes me really happy for her since she is very focused when she works and she is also a great student! She is also very excited to see me every time and gives me a big hug and smile whenever I walk into the room :) She has a friend in class and they are somewhat competitive, which makes it difficult to get them to maintain focus on their own work, but they both are able to complete their assignments and are improving nonetheless.

At the school, each tutor helps their student (or two if tutors are ill or not able to attend that day) with math and writing homework. Afterwards the students read out loud for 20 minutes and we help them with their pronunciation and understanding of the plot of the book. The students can choose to read only English, only Spanish, or both English and Spanish ea…

Student Reflection

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by Daniel Cox

As the semester is already half-way through, I imagine it is about time I introduce myself and my goals for my community service-learning experience.

Why did you begin to study Spanish? I began to study Spanish my sophomore year of high school (after a failed attempt at French during my freshman year). I’d grown close to a few friends with Spanish-speaking parents and my friendships with them sparked an interest in Spanish. When the time came to apply for college, I decided that entering as a Spanish major would allow me to pursue something I loved while trying to figure out what I wanted to study in the long-run. (As it turns out, I never added that second major because Spanish continued to be the main focus.)
What role has Spanish had in your life (and in your education)? I began to explain that I formed a personal connection to the language through my friendships in high school. I continued to build personal connections to the language and cultures during my first two year…

Can You Describe the Impact of Your Spanish Community Service Learning in 1300 Characters or Less?

by Ann Abbott

I confess to buying women's magazines at the supermarket checkout. While reading my latest impulse buy--the latest issue of Redbook--I read about a contest they are running for a trip to New York. The rules: In 1,300 characters or less, tell us what you're doing to assist your community.

Here is my entry:

Verb charts. Vocabulary lists. Flags and maps. Is that how you remember Spanish class?My Spanish classes at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign are like this:Tutor Spanish-speaking children in an after-school program. Coach a Spanish-speaker on a job-application test. Entertain kids while their mother desperately seeks information about her brother who was detained during a recent raid. Create a video showing how to get to a local clinic, explain their services in Spanish, then upload it to a Facebook group for local Latinos.Our local community of Spanish-speakers contributes so much to Champaign-Urbana through their hard work, family values, cultural rich…

How to Advertise your Spanish Community Service Learning Course

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by Ann Abbott

By using your students' own words!

Last week I passed out notecards to my "Spanish in the Community" students, put them in pairs, and asked them to do two things:
Recognize one legitimate hesitation on students' part about signing up for "Spanish in the Community."Counter that hesitation with a valid reason why should they sign up for the class anyway. Here are some of the responses I received and that I will use when I advertise the course for next semester.

Miedo
¨Sabemos que tienes miedo de hablar en español con hispanohablantes, pero nunca vas a mejorar tu español si no los usas afuera de la clase y con hispanohablantes de la comunidad.¨¨Sabemos que estás nervioso-a sobre tu capacidad de hablar en español con los hispanohablates, pero las personas en la comunidad tendrán paciencia contigo.¨Distancia
¨Sabemos que ¨la distancia puede complicar nuestro servicio en la comunidad, pero hay muchas maneras de llegar a las organizaciones que esojamos, c…

It's Midterm: How Are Your Students Doing in the Community?

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by Ann Abbott

My students do a self-evaluation about their participation in the community at the midpoint of the semester and at the end. (You can find the Community Participation rubric in my "Spanish in the Community" syllabus.) As I read them last week, I looked for trends.

Trend 1.A positive experience. Students are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about their work in the community, their community partner and the effort they put forth. That is very re-assuring.

Trend 2.Down-time is a problem. For students who work in the grade schools, there is almost no down-time. They help the teacher, help the kids, have almost constant contact with someone. They might get tired, but they don't get bored. Students who work in an office, however, have unpredictable periods of down-time combined with bursts of intense activity. This is not news to me. I have known this is a problem since I began doing this in 2004. Honestly, though, I'm no closer to figuring out a solution. Here are so…

Some Students Continue to Learn and Serve in the Community Even afterthe Course

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by Ann Abbott

This is the kind of message that every community service learning instructor loves to receive--and that every community partner loves to be a part of:

"I also want you to know that I have continued tovolunteer at Garden Hills this semester with the teacher I met throughvolunteering for your class last semester :) It truly has made a lasting impact on me."I hope all is well with you and SPAN 232 this semester."***Update***
Even some students who drop the course intend to continue with their commitment in the community. I received this e-mail today: 
"Due to my course requirements, I unfortunately had to drop the class. :(I will still continue volunteering at SOAR for the rest of the semester (and hopefully next semester too for that matter) but I will miss our class greatly!"

Student Reflection

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by Flora Ramirez


Hello everyone, my name is Flora Ramirez and I am a senior in Urban and Regional Planning.  I am extremely excited about having the opportunity to complete my James Scholar Project for SPAN-232.  Within the realm of Urban Planning my interests lie in urban design and community planning in ethnic neighborhoods.  While I have developed my first interest within my major’s curriculum it has been more of a struggle to explore my second interest.  That said, when I ran across this class I jumped at the opportunity to work in the community!
My experience with Spanish within the academic arena is extremely limited.  However, Spanish is my native language and so it has always informally been a part of my life.  Having made the transition from learning in Spanish to learning in English in 4th grade, my Spanish has experience limited growth since then.  This said I hope that my experience with in the community will help my Spanish speaking skills grow. My goal is to have the abili…

Student Reflection

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by Erik Bingham


Volunteering at ECIRMAC
During this fall semester I will be volunteering my time to work at the refugee center (ECIRMAC). I chose to work are ERCIMAC for a couple reasons. One, because it is literally a two minute bike ride away from my apartment, and two, because I wanted a new Spanish experience to add to my résumé. As I said in my first post, in Spain I taught an English class once a week with a couple other student teachers to disabled adults.  While I did enjoy teaching and would like to continue exploring that field, working at ECIRMAC gives me the experience of being in an office.
The office of ECIRMAC is pretty small. In fact, I’m guessing that the room I work in is about the size of my bedroom. Well, maybe it is a little bit bigger. Some days I will be the only one in the room for my entire hour of volunteering. However most days there is at least one other person working when I am there. Already I have met some awesome people and am looking forward getting to k…

What More Can Spanish Community Service Learning Students Do?

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by Ann Abbott

It's the middle of the semester, and students had to spend their time in class today evaluating their work in the community. Are they reliable? Proactive? Professional? Here is how we handled the class period:

Determine what type of volunteer they are. Students read about the different types of volunteers--from the organization's perspective. They had to 1) determine which categories they belonged to and provide a supporting example from their work in the community, and 2) indicate what categories they wanted to be by the end of the semester. For that second step, students had to give their reason for wanting to reach that point and delineate some specific steps they can take to get there. They interviewed each other to compare and contrast their answers.Evaluate their own community participation. Students then filled out the community participation rubric in our syllabus, giving themselves a grade on their work in the community.I contacted my community partners. W…

Student Reflection

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by Megan Creighton


Academic Community Service: Contextualizing your volunteer experience
When I enrolled in this class I did so because I wanted to get involved in the Spanish-speaking community—something I had already been striving to do independently in the past—and get enough credits to graduate at the same time. I must admit that my very pragmatic mindset at the beginning of this course has changed substantially as I have come to realize the tremendous benefit of supplementing volunteer work with academics. Certainly service work is foundational to this class, but it can be greatly enriched when paired with practical learning objectives to both improve your Spanish and contextualize your volunteer experience.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, there are many areas of Spanish that I am quite rusty with—primarily rattling off colloquial expressions, grammatical changes with Usted, or even basic vocabulary I learned in middle school. (The other day I had to ask kindergartener how to sa…

Student Reflection

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by Erik Bingham

My name is Erik Bingham and I am currently a junior taking SPAN 232. I signed up for this class because it is very practical to my goals for studying Spanish. Hopefully in the future I will be able to use my Spanish skills in my career and/or personal life and I feel that the objectives of this class are exactly what I need to practice. Its not enough to get A’s on all my tests in Spanish class because my ultimate goal for learning the language isn’t to get a good grade- it is to interact with the Spanish speaking community.

I have been studying Spanish ever since I was a freshman in high school and finally had the chance to put my years of work into action. Last semester I went to Alicante, Spain and had the time of my life. In Spain I took classes completely in Spanish, lived with a Spanish family, and got to make some Spanish friends. I was immersed in the culture and the language and found that I could get by just fine although it was difficult. Over those five month…

Student Reflection

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by Megan Creighton
What I do at Leal Elementary
Every Monday morning for two hours, I sit in on a dual-language kindergarten class and help with lessons in letters and numbers, and go out with the kids to recess for a half hour. Though part of the time I am in the background while the teacher is giving a lesson on the board, I spend a large portion of the time going around to different tables and helping the kids complete their individual work. Usually after a lesson, they have activities in their workbooks, which is typically tracing letters or numbers, and sometimes coloring. In these first weeks of school, the kids have been getting more acquainted with the alphabet, and are writing and counting to the number 7.
After about an hour of practicing numbers, the kids line up to get their coats, use the bathroom and go outside for a snack and recess for about 20-30 minutes. During this time I sometimes play with or talk to the kids, but usually spend this time talking to the teacher about…