Showing posts from November, 2012

Take SPAN 232 Spanish in the Community

by Ann Abbott

Click here to watch a screencast about SPAN 232, "Spanish in the Community." 

But don't just take my word for it; watch the videos of students who think you should take SPAN 232, too.

Erik works at the Refugee Center.

Annahid works at Central High School.

Megan works at a school.

Ryan works at the Refugee Center. Always trust a man with a yellow corbata.

Seriously, trust Ryan when he says that working in the community in SPAN 232 is engaging.

Taylor works at SOAR, and she tells a cute story about her student.

Contact me at if you have any questions about SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community."

Student Reflection

by Megan Creighton
Lobbying for Drivers Licenses For All
Yesterday, November 27th, I went with other community members of La Colectiva, the C-U Immigration Reform, and other community organizations came together to rally in Springfield and lobby in favor of the proposed Driver’s Licenses for All bill. This bill would allow undocumented immigrants to gain legal driver’s licenses with a tax identification number rather than a social security number. For this community, getting driver’s licenses is of great importance--it would allow people who have been living and working here for years to drive their kids to school or go to work without a fear of being pulled over or getting in an accident and consequently going to jail. However, it’s an important issue for all Americans--by limiting the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road, insurance premiums will go down and roads would become safer with more legally licensed drivers that have passed eye exams and driving tests. Deta…

Student Reflection

by Daniel Cox

Establishing Connections
Throughout the past several weeks I have been considering how my work with my community project affects other aspects of my life. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I initially chose this course because it would allow me to continue to use my Spanish skills with native speakers, both to improve my skills and to utilize them for those who can really benefit from them. However, I started to doubt the effectiveness of my time at the clinic, as I only spend about three hours per week at the clinic. At first, I felt that this was far from the sufficient amount of time I should spend speaking per week because the six days between each session would be enough time to forget many of the things I learned.
As I began to think about how I could apply what I have been learning at the clinic to other aspects of my life, I considered what outlets would be most beneficial. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is our time in class. Our two class sessions ea…

Lesson about Activism in Spanish Community Service Learning Course

by Ann Abbott

My classes are usually loud. I'm proud of that because the volume rises when I manage to take myself out of the center of the class and let the students communicate with each other as they analyze, create, compare, share, etc.

But for most of today's class, you could hear a pin drop.

Here's what we did:

1. A mind map of "los activitistas." I divided students into groups of three. One group did their mind map on the board, and the others did theirs on a piece of paper. I gave them three minutes to write as much as they could, then we looked at the group's mind map on the board. I then invited one person from each group to go to the board to write additional information they had on their mind maps. Curiously, no group wrote any negative associations with "los activistas," so I talked to them a bit about the negative stereotypes that exist in the US about activists--that they are hippies, lazy, unrealistic, etc.

2. Pictures of activists. Tod…

Student Reflection

by Megan Creighton 

Caring in the Classroom

This semester I enrolled in an upper-level anthropology course called “Methods and Social Justice”, where we have been conducting ethnographic research among Latino college students. Our goals have been to hear their stories of perseverance and marginalization within the United States, and also give back to the participants by engaging in activism with the community and providing mentorship to community college underclassmen. Like Spanish 232, this course requires us to spend a significant portion of time outside of a traditional classroom in order to engage with the community. Aside from this community participation, we have class meetings where we discuss various ethnographies and theoretical readings regarding border crossings in relation to questions of knowledge production and various ethnographic research methods.
One of my favorite readings in the course thus far has been a chapter from Angela Valenzuela's book Subtractive Schooli…

Student Reflection

by Erik Bingham

Getting Better All the Time
I have now worked more than half of my required 28 hours of service at ECIRMAC. Although 28 hours really isn’t that much time, I have already gained practical experience through my knowledge of the Spanish language. I still struggle all the time with understanding what is being said, what is being asked, and how to respond. But I have good news- it’s getting better all the time.
We spent a week in class doing the exact same things that I do in my work- taking messages. Our teacher would read us a list of names and addresses that we had to write down. I am glad we got to do these exercises because it is something that I still struggle with. Our teacher also read us short messages that included all the information that we needed to write down including names, dates, places, numbers, and addresses. This activity was more difficult than what I have to do in the office because there was no opportunity to ask questions.
In addition to this practice, …

Student Reflection

by Flora Ramirez

For this course I have chosen to work with the Center for Latin American Studies on their community outreach program called “Story Time.”  This program is spearheaded by Alejandra Seufferheld. Alejandra coordinates efforts with the Urbana Free Library to host “Story Time” every second Saturday of the month.  We usually begin with a short story that is written in Spanish.  Then, as a pair, we translate the story from Spanish to English as we work our way through the narrative.  From here we usually have a portion of the time set aside for music where children and parents are encouraged to sing along in Spanish.  Normally the songs we play are chosen with the intent to teach the children simple words in Spanish such as colors or numbers.  We conclude our Spanish Story Time with a craft activity; thus far we have made, “Papel Picado” (where intricate design patterns are cut out of tissue paper: a traditional form of Mexican folk art), pumpkin cards, and family trees.

Reflective Essay Prompts in an Active Community Service Learning Classroom

by Ann Abbott

Homework. Independent work. Writing. That's what we tend to think of when we talk about reflection in a community service learning course.

But just listen to the students in the video above, and you will notice that my class today about reflection was interactive. Collaborative. Noisy.

1. I gave each student a slip of paper with one of the reflection prompts assigned to them for their next reflective essay. Each prompt corresponds to a lesson from Comunidades: Más allá del aula. (I will list them at the end of this post.)

2. I gave them ten minutes to research on-line and think about the first part of their question: ¿Qué? (Here is a good resource about the 4 C's of reflection and other best practices for reflective writing in a community service learning course.)

3. I put them in pairs. Each student had five minutes to summarize and explain their prompt and information to their partner.

4. We then moved to the ¿Y qué? part of the prompt and changed it to an inte…

Student Reflection

by Megan Creighton
Recognizing and Assessing New Opportunity in Businesses and in the Classroom
            Although it is directed at entrepreneurs in the non-profit sector, chapter 3 of Enterprising Non-Profits(Wiley, 2001) by Jerry Kitzi provides invaluable pointers about taking advantage of opportunity in any situation, including the classroom. The chapter strives to explain the skill of recognizing good opportunities and explains that optimizing functionality and success in one's business is based on careful analysis, entrepreneurial instinct, and follow through. I would argue that such pointers are just as applicable to teachers in the classroom as well as they try to improve upon various teaching methods and enhance student achievement. The chapter offers four tips in seeking innovation which I have adapted for a classroom environment:
1)      Look through a different lens: Kitzi encourages businesses to consider the service from the eyes for the user. In the same way, teache…

ACTFL Sessions on Languages for the Professions

by Ann Abbott

I'm excited to go to Philadelphia next week for the ACTFL conference. I'm going to bunk with my BCF (best colleague forever), Darcy Lear. I'm going to hang out with Holly Nibert and all my Pearson friends. I'm going to attend Dan Thornhill's session because I'm interested in the topic and because he specifically invited me. And I am looking forward to the session dedicated to new research directions.

There are many sessions with service learning in the title. Click here to search the on-line program.

Mary Risner put together the very useful list below about sessions specifically referring to languages and professions. (I highlighted my session.)

Tap me on the shoulder if you see me at ACTFL!


Friday November, 16 1:15pm to 2:15pm
Language Advocacy: It's Everybody's Business

Building: Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room: Room 114 Lecture Hall

Teaching Business German: Strategies and Models

Building: Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room: R…

Lesson Plan for your Student-Citizens--Election 2012

by Ann Abbott

Today is election day, and voting has a particularly important place in any community service learning course. We are educating our students to be informed and engaged citizens. To vote is one of the most important measures of our success.

I am so excited to be with my student-citizens today, and here is my lesson plan.

1. Share the picture I posted to Facebook after voting this morning. Ask them what is happening on their Facebook feeds regarding the elections.

2. Project the video of Jackie Kennedy's political ad in Spanish.

3. Divide the students in half. Using their own devices, half watch Mitt Romney's ad with son speaking Spanish, and the other half watch Barack Obama's ad in Spanish.

4. Pair students, each student watched a different video. Ask them to describe the video they watched to the other person then together answer the questions on Sarah Degner Riveros' blog post.

5. Education is political. Language is political. Is bilingual education pol…

Student Reflection

by Megan Creighton

Bilingual Education in the United States: Why are we so far behind?

Since taking linguistic and socio-cultural anthropology courses as well as a Bilingualism course in the Spanish department, I’ve become very invested in the political controversy surrounding bilingual education in the United States. Although Spanish-speakers make up 12.8% of the population, effective bilingual education has yet to truly take off in the United States. When considering the U.S. education system in contrast with several European countries and other developed nations, U.S. bilingual or multilingual education does not remotely compare. Some scholars have even argued that the U.S. approach to bilingual education is more closely comparable to developing nations than developed nations despite its excellence in almost all other areas of education. English-immersion and ESL “pull-out” have been the most common methods of bilingual education for decades, and continue to thrive today today. In pl…