Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Student Reflection

by Kelsey Marquez


“¡ZAP! ¡Que lástima!” say the children when they get a popsicle stick that says “¡ZAP!” Zap is a game I play with the children from Garden Hills. Their teacher has written sounds on different popsicles sticks, such as “rra, la, ma”. She then writes “zap” on a few of the other popsicle sticks. The object of the game is to obtain the most popsicle sticks with sounds but when you pick a stick with the word “zap” you must put all your sticks back in the bucket.

Mrs. X [all names have been eliminated] was trying to get through her daily lesson as usual but it seemed impossible to get the children to focus. Some of the kids looked exhausted while others kept fidgeting with their fingers. The teacher decided that it was best to let them play “Zap” for fifteen minutes so those that were tired could participate in a less energy-demanding activity and those that were restless could release some energy as well.

All the children got into groups of about four children except for one group who only had two. I decided to join that group so that they had more people to compete with. Mrs. X passed out the materials and we began right away. First we sorted the popsicle sticks, making sure they were facing down so no one would cheat. We took turns in order, Student 1, Student 2, and then me.

After a few rounds, I began to notice something interesting. For five year old kindergarteners, these kids were really competitive. They took the game very seriously and always kept track of how many sticks each player had. The game got so intense that I hadn’t even noticed that the time for me to go had passed.

I learned that it’s okay to give children a break from structured learning. Playing a game can be just as educational as a lesson, especially when the children are really competitive. They learned their sounds and even began forming words with the popsicle sticks they had. Not everyone learns the same way. Some prefer to listen while others prefer hands-on activities. It’s important that children are taught material in different ways so that each and every student benefits from the education they are receiving.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Student Reflection

Este es un ejemplo del tipo de libros que hemos leído. Se llama Pedro El Valiente y es sobre un chico llamado Pedro y cómo engañó a un lobo de comer él y sus amigos!
by Matt Campion

 Durante nuestras sesiones de la hora con los niños, también nos concentramos en leer. El programa SOAR usa una actividad específica para ayudar a niños a practicar su lectura. Ahora, el sistema es similar, pero también tiene diferencias. En primer lugar, [mi alumno] tiene un compañero de lectura y su nombre es [X]. X también tiene un tutor con quien trabaja. X ha sido designado como el 'primer' lector así empieza. Lee durante dos minutos y mi alumno hace marcas en una hoja para cada oración completa y página. Mi alumno empieza el mismo libro y lee durante dos minutos. Xhace marcas en la misma hoja. El objetivo es llegar a 500 puntos para que cada lector pueda obtener un premio de la caja del tesoro. A veces mi alumno llega más lejos que X en lectura, pero a veces no lo hace. Después de que han leído Xy mi alumno, les pregunto sobre lo que han leido. Esto es para determinar la comprensión y el entendimiento. Finalmente, para la última actividad, X y mi alumno hace un resumen de lo que han leido en diez palabras. Entonces consiguen un punto para cada palabra que usan hasta diez. Cada semana, los niños reciben un nuevo libro. A veces lo han leído antes y otras veces no. Los libros son cortos, con la intencion de ser leídos en una semana. Cubren todo tipo de contenido, desde hechos científicos hasta cuentos clásicos infantiles. Las historias son divertidas, y los niños disfrutan leyéndolas

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Student Reflection

by Nicole Mathes

“Spanglish” in the Classroom

Last semester I took a Spanish linguistics course. One of the final topics that we discussed was the use of “Spanglish,” particularly in America.  According to Oxford dictionary, “Spanglish” is defined as “a hybrid language combining words and idioms from both Spanish and English, especially Spanish speech that uses many English words and expressions.” Basically, it is when people speak both Spanish and English in the same sentence (you can see that I have written some examples in the picture). A lot of the articles, blogs, and opinion columns that we read had negative views of Spanglish. For example, some of the authors thought that it was used by ignorant Americans who only spoke Spanglish to either make fun of the Spanish language, the Hispanic people, or to appear like they knew something. A lot of times, the use of Spanglish can be derogatory. For instance if someone says “I want to kick back with a nice cerveza”, this sentence can imply that Hispanics are lazy and only drink. I can understand why some people think that the use of Spanglish is offensive and I agree that it can be. However, that is not always the case. 

In my opinion, I think that the use of Spanglish demonstrates the blend of two cultures in America. While I am not sure that I would necessarily consider it its own language, per say, I think that the motivation behind its use is interesting and eye-opening. Consider the hypothetical, albeit realistic, case of an eight-year old boy who was born in America, but whose parents are native Spanish speakers who were born in Mexico and immigrated to America before their son was born. This boy can identify with both the American culture AND the Hispanic culture. Why? Because he was born in America, he goes to a school where his peers and teachers speak English, and he’s learning about the history and culture of America at school and in his community. But, his parents speak Spanish to him at home (so he knows Spanish as well) and his parents and relatives teach him about the Hispanic culture and customs. Through the use of Spanglish, he can demonstrate that he is both part of the Hispanic and American community; the “language” represents a part of who is he.

Many of the students in Ms. X’s [names have been eliminated to protect privacy] class have a background that is similar to that of the hypothetical boy’s and they use Spanglish. Ms. X, the teacher, even uses Spanglish. The first time I heard her speak Spanglish to her students, I did a double-take. Never, in all my Spanish classes had I EVER heard a teacher speak Spanglish as if it was a normal thing. It. Was. AWESOME. Sure, teachers had “spoken” Spanglish, but only to show us an example of what is was. Ms. Perez speaks it daily and combines both languages as if Spanglish IS its own language. And who knows, maybe it really is? The students in her class are bilingual, but some students understand Spanish better, while others prefer English. They are also supposed to be learning how to read in English and become more proficient in their reading and comprehension abilities, so speaking in English is beneficial to the students. However, hearing a little bit of Spanish also makes them feel comfortable. For them, speaking Spanglish is acceptable, normal, beneficial, and represents their identities. In this way, Spanglish is not offensive, but rather, a way of life that symbolizes what could be a unique, new and emerging culture in America.   

Student Reflection

by Kelsey Marquez

Bilingualism and Parent Communication

In my past post, I described the lack of bilingual support I witnessed at Garden Hills (in relation to bilingual substitute teachers). While volunteering at Champaign Central High School, I saw quite the opposite.

It was around 5:45 pm as I was entering this unfamiliar and lonely building. There weren’t any signs containing direction information and this lonely building quickly became the size of a mansion. I began walking around until I bumped into a custodian. Luckily, he was able to direct me to the main office. “Go down the hallway and once you hit the end, make a left then a right on the first entrance”, he said. For someone who had never been there, his directions didn’t seem all that clear. Nonetheless, I found my way through the hallways and into the main office.

I nervously walked in, not knowing what to expect. I was welcomed by a very friendly face. This unfamiliar face belongs to Lorena Rodriguez, the bilingual secretary. She was in charge of assigning translators to families who needed them. About eight people showed up to assist as translators and we were all quickly on our way to facilitate conversations between parents and teachers.

The first family I was paired up with reminded me of my own. The parents, who looked extremely tired, were of Mexican descent. The father’s eyes were excessively red probably due to exhaustion or horrible working conditions. This all became worse when I had to translate what their child's teacher was saying. Their child had been cutting class and not turning in assignments. The father’s red eyes were soon accompanied by tears that couldn’t seem to be released. He was saddened by his child's behavior. Soon, we had to go on to the next teacher and then the next.

What saddened me the most was that the parents were not aware of what was going on in their child’s life. Not because they were not interested but because there was this language and education barrier in between. Most of the Hispanic parents I translated for did not seem to have a college education and spoke little or no English. So even if they wanted to, most of the time the parents wouldn’t understand what their child was learning, what projects they were working on, etc…

Nonetheless, I would like to applaud Champaign Central High School for their bilingual support. In my high school, translators were never provided. In fact, my parents didn’t even have to go pick up my report card. But at Champaign Central, every Spanish speaking family was offered a translator to try and eliminate this language barrier. Lorena is also very involved with each individual family and caters to their specific needs.

I learned a lot that day. I was able to assure myself that I would love to work fulltime as a translator. I want to be able to help people understand what’s going on to try to reduce this language gap. I would love to work at a school and help parents become more involved in their child’s school work.

Students Curating Content: A Collaborative Pinterest Board as the Final Exam

by Ann Abbott

Students in my "Spanish in the Community" course will do the following for their final exam:
  • Contribute five pins to my Pinterest board called SPAN 232 Spanish in the Community and write a brief reflective essay on this assignment.
  • To choose their pins, students must use this criteria: What information should a student in this course have to help them work in the community, understand better what they observe in the community and contextualize their learning in the community within regional, national and global forces.
  • If you don't know how to pin, go to YouTube or Google and search for tutorials on "How to use Pinterest" or "How to create pins on Pinterest."
  • Each pin must include a relevant description that helps students understand what the pin is and why it is important. When writing the description of your pins, frame them using this question: If a student sees this pin, why should they take the time to click on it? What will he/she gain from clicking on it?
  • Write your descriptions in Spanish--very good Spanish. Use the tutorials and quizzes from MySpanishKit to help you with the grammar.
  • For the reflective essay, write ~100 words about each pin. Please vary the kind of information you include in your reflections: tell why you chose it, why you think it is important, connect it to something specific that you observed or did in the community, explain how it answers a question you had during the semester, link it to something you hear other people say about immigrants/Spanish/students, etc. 
  • To conclude the reflective essay, write a ~100-word conclusion that sums up what you learned from this project.
  • You will add the pins directly to the Pinterest board and upload the reflective essay to Compass. If you cannot pin directly to the board, do the following: 
    • Create your own board and add your pins there.
    • Use the "send" feature in Pinterest to send me your board or each pin. 
  • If you don't have a Pinterest account and do not want to create one, please email me and we will find a solution. I don't want anyone to feel forced into doing something on social media that he/she doesn't want to do.
  • You will be graded on the quality of the writing and the Spanish.
Here is some feedback after seeing the ones that some students have already created:
  • Remember that we don't use the term "inmigrante ilegal" in this course (no human is illegal). Please edit your pins to change that term to "inmigrante indocumentado." 
  • Check and recheck your Spanish! I would suggest writing your descriptions in a Word document and using the Word tools to check your spelling, vocabulary and grammar. This will affect your grade.

10 Questions Raised by the 2014 CIBER Business Languages Conference

What a lovely setting for the CIBER conference: Park City, Utah.
by Ann Abbott

Each year, I usually provide a roundup of the things I learned at that year's CIBER Business Languages Conference, like last year's post from Indiana University.

This year was an exciting, fulfilling learning experience, too. However, I think I came away with more questions to reflect upon than answers to immediately act upon. You can see the program, author bios and paper abstracts from the 2014 CIBER Business Languages Conference here.

1. What is the status of the field?

Judging by the quantity and quality of the sessions at this year's conference, things are going very, very well. This is important because we know that many departments are looking toward business Spanish and other languages for specific purposes as an antidote (one among several) to declining enrollments in language programs. You can read the paper abstracts, and you will notice that the topics cover a lot of ground and the presenters come from many different types of institutions. I will confess, I struggled with what to present during my Spanish workshop. I didn't know if I would have beginners in the audience or seasoned professionals. As it turns out, I had both, and so I was glad to have prepared an outline that moved from the first decisions you must make when building a Business Spanish course to ways that you can go beyond the basics. 

2. What is the role of experiential learning?

More and more people are integrating service learning and other types of experiential learning and business languages, although it's still not as much as I think it could/should be. Sean R. Hill (Farwell High School; Mid Michigan Community College) presented Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities Outside the Classroom with Student-Selected Micro-Loans, and Maria del Milagro Lozada Cerna (University of Pennsylvania; Lauder Institute) presented session on corporate visits. (I co-authored an article with Maida Watson several years ago about experiential learning in a faculty development program.) 

3. Can we integrate this into graduate studies?

Diana Ruggiero's (University of Memphis) session challenged us to think about how to integrate business languages and LSP into graduate education. I believe strongly that we should build a working group to come up with a white paper suggesting models of graduate education in language programs that includes LSP.

4. Are we connecting study abroad and business languages enough?

I attended sessions by Leland L'Hote and Kacy M. Pekenpaugh that combined the topics of business languages, intercultural communication and study abroad. I particularly appreciated the framework Lee L'Hote offered us for assessing students' intercultural communication proficiency (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "download"). Pekenpaugh's title was ironic (I Learned How to Pack Light and Effectively: Helping Students Translate Study Abroad Experiences for the Real World), but I pointed out that my husband has actually mentioned this as something he needs in his employees and doesn't always get: the ins and outs of international travel, including packing. We sometimes focus so much on the theoretical and abstract elements of study abroad and transcultural competence that we lose sight of the very practical skills that study abroad gives students--and that most people in the US do not have.

5. How can we best engage heritage language learners?

Juanita Villena-Alvarez (U of South Carolina, Beaufort) is probably the very first person I have ever heard at this conference tackle the topic of heritage language learners. Although she specifically focused on differentiated rubrics for assessment, this is obviously a topic we need to work on much more in LSP. The attendees were very interested in the topic, and you could see that departments are giving this topic a lot of thought but still haven't fully figured it out.

6. Is entrepreneurship education taking off?

Deb Reisinger (Duke) and I co-presented in a session about social entrepreneurship. I shared my lesson on mission-based management. (I'll write that up in a future blog post.) Deb shared her successess with teaching students to fail (yes, fail) and to do the Gumball Challenge.In another session about entrepreneurial literacy, Karen Rauch and Dawn Slack (Kutztown U of Pennsylvania) shared the two courses they have designed about entrepreneurship: one in Spanish and another one in English for all language students who plan to be language professionals (translators, interpreters and more). 

7. How do we incorporate technology in ways that actually matter?

I greatly enjoyed Orlando Kelm's (U Texas) workshop on technology. You can see all the technologies he had for his workshop here. Our challenge is how to use technology in ways that enhance student learning in significant ways. I am particularly interested in teaching students to produce business-grade content in commonly-used technologies.

8. What conferences should I attend next year?

There will be a CIBER Business Languages Conference next year, we just don't know when or where. CIBER is a Title VI program of the federal government, and there will be even less funding--even fewer CIBER centers--in this next round of grants. So they will wait to see which Centers are funded and then make the decision about next year's conference. I'll be there. And I'm now going to look into the conference held by Global Advances in Business Communication which rotates between three locations: Eastern Michigan University, Malaysia and Antwerp. Next year it will be in Michigan during the Memorial Day weekend, and I will look into attending it once the official announcement is made. 

9. What is my research agenda?

Christine Uber Grosse (American U of Sharjah) and Tomoko Takami (U Pennsylvannia) gave a workshop titled "The State of Research in Business Language." They shared the latest publications, invited us to discuss trends in those publications, and then at the end asked us to reflect on our own research agendas. I was rushing between sessions all during the conference and didn't have time to reflect on this very, very important question. What do I want to work on? How do I want to approach my research questions? Where do I want to publish them? Maybe (maybe...) during the long travels back to Illinois today I will have a chance to reflect and plan for this.

10. Who are my colleagues?

This question is easy to answer. We all need to feel like we belong to an intellectual community. When you do something outside the mainstream (and in language programs, literature is the mainstream along with linguistics to a lesser extent), you need that sense of community even more. Here at CIBER, I was happy to see old friends engaged in the same endeavor: Maida Watson, Chris Grosse, Mike Doyle, T. Bruce Fryer, Juanita Villena-Alvarez, Orlando Kelm, Mary Long, Mary Risner, Deb Reisinger, Nola Senna, Liz Martin and more. During this conference, I came to know David Victor better and met wonderful people for the first time: Karen Rauch, Dawn Slack, Erin McNulty and more. And I missed my partner in crime, Darcy Lear. I look forward to following all of these people's work and collaborating when possible.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CIBER Business Languages Conference 2014: Spanish Workshop

by Ann Abbott

I'm looking forward to the 2014 CIBER Business Languages Conference hosted by Brigham Young University at Park City, Utah. I will be giving the Spanish workshop, and a talk with Deb Reisinger (Duke) about social entrepreneurship.

Spanish Workshop

Putting together Your Business Spanish Course

Getting to know each other.

Why teach Business Spanish? 

Choosing your book: Éxito comercialEntre socios; books from Spain and Latin America; trade books 

Selecting elements of your book:



Gathering Resources for your Business Spanish Course

People in the field.

Professional development opportunities.



  • CIBER Business Languages Conference
  • LSP 2014 and LSP 2012.
  • ACTFL and AATSP. Create panels, individual sessions.

Online resources.

Going Beyond the Basics in your Business Spanish Course

Community service learning

Student Consulting

Teaching Marketing:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Civic Engagement and Spanish Community Service Learning: An Example

Emily Otnes, speaking at a rally.
Editor's note: I won't claim that Emily stepped up her level of civic engagement and attended a protest because of the two Spanish community service learning courses she took with me. What I will claim is that by giving our students examples of how they can take action in the face of injustice, we provide them with important models. And now I hope Emily's story will be a model for other students who want to move from talking to do-ing. --Ann Abbott

by Emily Otnes

On Thursday, April 17th, I skipped class to do something I’d never done before: go to a protest.

Recently at Butler University, a student Eliza Quincey was a victim of injustice involving the administration’s lack of involvement and delayed action in her rape case. In response to the administration’s incompetent and unhelpful response, Eliza wrote an essay demanding Butler to take action, thereby inspiring her fellow students to stand along with her and give her the voice she deserves.

My friend Lucy and I drove all the way to Indianapolis to get involved. We got up very early and started our car ride, not knowing what to expect. But we did know that the case meant a lot to us as women, as college students, and as a human beings. Rape is something that often becomes ignored and taken very lightly, and the scary statistic of one in four women being victims of sexual assault some time in their college experience is as real as it has ever been.

It was an absolute honor to stand next to so many survivors and supporters. I will never forget the way the megaphone traveled so fluidly through the crowd, each speaker starting with “Hello, my name is Eliza Quincey,” giving the group a sense of togetherness and unity from this symbolic yet very real understanding.

When I took the megaphone, I spoke about the importance of the case to me, and about the resources that every campus deserves in order to provide a safe place for its students. I encouraged Butler to demand a Women’s Resource Center and to keep fighting against the perpetuation of rape culture in our society.

Overall it was an extremely rewarding experience. Here are some photos from the event. I encourage all students to fight for what they believe in, whatever campus and whatever situation. Hopefully the efforts of Butler’s students will lead to justice for all and help to put a stop to rape in our communities.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Market Your Language Program to Students at Key Decision Points

by Ann Abbott

As language departments face decreasing enrollments, one thing that we can do is improve our marketing.

When we think of marketing, we often first think about creating slick brochures and websites. The trick, though, is to first define your target audience with precision. Then you have to tailor your message to the benefits that they care about. (What pain do they feel, and how to can you alleviate it?) Finally, you have to know how to get the message to them: where will they see it, how will they find it, and when will it reach them? 

I'll write more about that another day, but for now, I just want to say that many language departments are not effectively marketing to the one set of students they can most easily access: students who are already enrolled in their program. More specifically: you already have the emails of all the students who are enrolled in the last semester of your basic language program so at the very least reach out to them with a message that is tailored to them.

Here's an example. I composed this today and asked the course director to forward it to the students. Ideally, I would have sent this the very first day that students were able to sign up for next semester's classes, but I'll put that on my calendar for the next time.

SPAN 141 & 142 students: keep going!

Dear SPAN 141 and 142 students,

Because you are finishing the last semester of the Spanish basic language sequence, there is so much more that you can do now. Here's a short list:
·         Major in Spanish. If you already have a major, don’t worry. Many of our students realize how important Spanish is within the US and globally, so they decided to do what I call “Spanish +”. They double major. (By the way, when I was an undergrad student many years ago, I double majored in psychology and Spanish, and things have turned out pretty good for me!)
·         Minor in SpanishNot ready to commit to a Spanish major? That’s okay. The Spanish minor is do-able and adds real value to your university experience and future professional life.
·         Study AbroadStudying abroad is often a transformative experience. One of my former students studied a semester in Bilbao; look at what she did and what she learned. If it is at all possible, I highly recommend the year-long program in Barcelona. There’s nothing like a whole year abroad.
·         Register for SPAN 200, 204, 208 and 228SPAN 141 and 142 are equivalents, so whichever course you took, you can register for any of these courses.
·         Explore another language. Students rave about our Portuguese program; you can study one of the most important languages in a program that is rigorous and fun at the same time. Our department offers Catalan and Basque, too.
·         Continue attending Mi Pueblo Sessions. Even if you don't take any Spanish classes in the fall, you are still welcome to attend Mi Pueblo. 
·         Take SPAN 202 with meThe course description makes the course sound much more boring than it actually is! Both SPAN 141 and 142 count as the prerequisite. See the picture below, and read the real description: “Register for SPAN 202, and let's work together next semester to build the skills that professionals need today: Spanish proficiency, cultural competence, global literacy, critical thinking skills, social media marketing experience and practice facilitating group discussions. Everyone says that they're an ideal candidate, but you'll finish with a portfolio that actually proves it. I love teaching, challenging my students while supporting them, providing real-world experiences and maintaining ties long after they have graduated. If this sounds like the kind of course you need and the kind of professor you like, please sign up today and/or share this message with a friend who could benefit.”

Identify the natural points when students make decisions about the next level of your program. Reach them at those points, and use simple yet effective marketing to "pull them" along throughout the entire program.

Here are some decision-making points in our Spanish program. What are the decision making points in yours? Please share in the comments.

  • Some students are only required to take three semesters of a foreign language. In that third semester, we can encourage them to take one more course of the basic language series.
  • Many students on our campus are required to take four semester of basic language courses. During that fourth semester, we can reach out to them and let them know that they have everything they need to start taking courses in the major and minor. And even if they don't want to commit to the major or minor, there are some "fun" classes that they can take, just to keep up their Spanish.
  • When our minors have taken their required 300-level courses, we can show them how easily they can take a few more courses and graduate with a major. 
  • When students are finishing a semester abroad, we can encourage them to take more classes when they come back to campus and finish up a minor or even spring for a major.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Student Reflection

Soy yo en esta foto, delante del salón del segundo grado! Siempre está lleno de actividad.
by Matt Campion

Para mi proyecto comunitario, estoy trabajando como tutor en la escuela primaria Garden Hills. Esta población de estudiantes de esta escuela es muy diversa, con un muchos estudiantes de habla hispana. Enb los grados más pequeños se les enseña en una combinación de español e inglés. El español es el idioma principal en estas clases. A través del programa SOAR, estoy trabajando en un salón de segundo grado con estudiantes de habla hispana. Nuestras sesiones tienen lugar después de la escuela para una hora y media. Dividimos el tiempo entre lectura y matemáticas. Para la lectura, dos estudiantes se turnan leyendo el mismo libro. Luego los tutores hacen preguntas sobre lo que pasó en el libro y lo que piensan que va a pasar. Los estudiantes obtienen un libro a la semanay hay un sistema de puntos para lograr páginas y discusión sobre el libro. Los niños reciben un premio cada vez que llegan a quinientos puntos. Para la parte de matemáticas, los estudiantes tienen siempre una o dos hojas de trabajo para completar. La matemática es generalmente adición simple o sustracción. Si tenemos tiempo después de que hemos completado la tarea de matemáticas, jugamos juegos diferentes como Uno o Lo siento. El aula tiene todos los tipos de juegos de mesa cuando terminamos nuestro trabajo. No siempre nos ponemos a jugar, pero a los niños les encanta hacer esto. Esta es una gran oportunidad para practicar mi español y colaborar con los estudiantes!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Terms You Should Know when Applying for a Top Position in Higher Education

Imagine sitting at the head of a long table with 15 inscrutable faces looking back at you. That's what some interviews look like.
by Ann Abbott

This year I have done a lot of work on search committees--and by "a lot," I mean a lot. Each time I serve on a search committee I learn more and more about what it takes to be a successful job candidate.

Based on those experiences, I have shared tips about:

In this post, I'd like to share some of the terminology I have picked up while working on a search committee to fill a very high-level position in my university. Yes, your experience and qualifications are the most important thing in a job hunt. Still, knowing the lingo helps position you as an expert. Here are the terms I learned; click on them to find more information.

C-level Position

When I thought of the top positions in an institution of higher education, my mind always went to jobs like President, Chancellor, Provost and Deans. However, colleges and universities also have C-level positions like the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and CIO (Chief Information Officer.) Those are all C-level positions.

"Architect" as a verb. 

"To architect" is one of those words that people from the humanities hate because it comes from the business world. However, I think it is a valuable word that we has been missing from the English language. For example, when I build a wiki for a committee that I chair, it tends to eventually become confusing because I didn't "architect" it well from the beginning.

Six Sigma

Some people in C-level positions within higher education have previous experience in industry. When they talk about how they lead, prioritize, measure success, etc., one model they might mention is Six Sigma. While it's not necessary to be thoroughly trained in a specific model like Six Sigma, it is very important to be able to talk about coherent approaches to building excellence into your organization.

Direct Reports

First of all, the person interviewing for a job wants to know to whom they will report. For example, a campus CIO might report directly to the Provost. Candidates at this level need experience managing direct reports--the more the better. For example, in my current position of Director of Undergraduate Studies, I have four direct reports. Many of them have people who directly report to them. So I oversee a group of about 50 people but only have four direct reports. (Again, I have heard faculty complain about this term because it is hierarchical and de-humanizing, so be careful when you use these kinds of terms in a higher education setting.)

360 Review

This is another term (buzzword?) that people use when talking about their management processes, leadership style, creating a high-performance team, etc.


I had to look this one up. It means "Service-Level Agreement." If you are involved in the support services that keep a college running, this is something you should know about.

Actvity-based Costing

This is a kind of financial model. I won't try to pretend I understand the ins and outs of this, but the big take-away is that when you apply for C-level positions you need to have experience managing very big budgets and be able to talk about some kinds of financial models.

Metrics and Dashboards

These tools are aligned with concept of strategic planning--you need a strategic plan for your organization, you fix your objectives and prioritize your work around the strategic plan, you define what you will measure to ensure that you have met those objectives (what will success look like?), and the dashboards allow you to see how you are doing at any moment in time. One particular dashboard that was mentioned: Tableau.

Internet 2. 

This is a research-focused, big-data kind of international professional organization.


This is a professional organization for IT professionals in higher education.

The Art of the Possible. 

As soon as I heard this phrase, I knew that I would incorporate it into my own vocabulary. It conveys my own can-do, optimistic, innovative outlook. Unfortunately, this phrase comes from an Otto von Bismark quote and a military/political context. Still, I identify with the notion of finding things/projects that are possible; I don't like it when people's first reaction is to simply find the "impossible" in everything, always sticking with the status quo.

After Action Report. 

Among other things, an after action report is part of a communication cycle when something bad/unexpected happens. Here is the cycle: 1) message acknowledging the problem, 2) a resolve message, letting people know that the issues has been resolved, 3) an after-action message letting people know why it happened and the lessons learned from the incident. C-level employees must show that they are excellent leaders, communicators and know how to handle crises.
Here are some technologies that came up:
  • Google Garage. Wouldn't it be great to set up your classroom space with a lot of tools and then just tell students to "make something"?
  • Hypercities. Mapping that goes beyond Google maps.
  • Neatline. Combines maps and timelines.
  • Scalar. A platform for scholarly publishing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Student Reflection: Kelly Klus

by Kelly Klus

East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center

My name is Kelly Klus- I’m a senior in my final semester (YIKES!) at the University of Illinois. My diploma will say that I’ve studied Psychology and Spanish in my four years here—but I spent so much time dabbling in classes, wandering and changing my major, career plans, and pursuing different interests that I think it would be more accurate if my diploma said something more like ‘Miscellaneous Studies.’ One thing that has stayed consistent is my desire to learn and speak Spanish well, to be able to interact with the wide varieties of cultures that speak Spanish.

This semester, I’ve been volunteering Tuesday mornings at ECIRMAC. The center is a small room in the church on Green Street in Urbana. The room fits four desks, a copy machine, and 3 filing cabinets—but leaves little to no room to maneuver around the room. There are schedules, calendars, and pamphlets taped to the walls in different languages. In a normal day, the doorbell rings every 5 to 10 minutes and the phone rings (what seems like) constantly. Whoever is at the refugee center working at the time will hum, mumble, call out, “What do we need to file this for so-and-so?” “Who has the file for so-and-so?” Spanish, English, and Vietnamese are spoken throughout the day, sometimes interchangeably. Frustrations with DCFS will be expressed, with the process for SNAP forms, with clients’ employers—but jokes are not few and far between and the women are laughing more often than not. Clients come and go, have short conversations or stay and spend time filling out forms with the five women who work at the center. The clients leave the center with more confidence about their taxes, about their health insurance coverage, about the translation of their birth certificates, about bills and upcoming appointments. They leave with more reassurance that they will be able to continue to support their family when they have all of the correct paperwork to continue receiving SNAP cards or have the correct paperwork to obtain and keep a job. I have been consistently surprised and in awe of the sheer amount of people that the women in the center are able to help each day.

This is the first year I’ve lived in an apartment and I’ve been responsible for my own electricity, cable, and car bills. The four girls and I that live in the apartment have a difficult time figuring out the bills, making sure everything is correct and getting them paid on time, and we are privileged to speak the language in which the bills are written and the people speak when we call to have questions. I cannot imagine how difficult, scary, and destabilizing it would be to try to deal with these things in a language in which I was not extremely confident. Receiving a bill, a letter, or a phone call in a language that was strange to me in a country that was relatively new to me would be a very disconcerting event—having a place like the Refugee center is an indispensible resource. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Student Reflection

by Kelsey Marquez

One Day 

Sadness. Sadness is what I felt when I saw their innocent faces go from excited to disappointed. I will never forget the second time I went to volunteer at Garden Hills. When I walked into the nearly empty classroom, I came across an unfamiliar face. The stranger quickly introduced herself and said that she was the substitute teacher for the day and that the kids were still at Library. Within about five minutes, we went to pick up the children from Library and took them to get their vision tested. Up until that point, everything was pretty normal and going as usual. But soon that would change.

The substitute teacher was an elderly Caucasian woman who didn’t speak a word of Spanish. For most classes, this would not be a problem, but this class is a bilingual kindergarten class. What does that mean? It means that the children are being taught in Spanish and know very little or no English at all. As we waited for the children to get tested, they were asked to quietly read to themselves or to another classmate. One student excitedly ran up to the substitute and said “¿Quieres leer conmigo?” The substitute stared at him and said “I don’t know what you’re saying” and just walked away.

As I watched the child’s excitement slowly fade away, my heart broke into pieces. I had only interacted with these kids for a few hours but I couldn’t help but feel terrible for the situation that they were in. Similar interactions occurred throughout the two hours that I was there. I felt that I needed to do something about it. After the child was basically ignored, I asked him “¿Quieres que yo lea contigo?” His response saddened me even more. “¿Tú sí hablas español?” The tone of his voice was a mixture of sadness and relief, relief that he had found someone who understood him.

Throughout the day, I tried to function as a translator between the children and the substitute. Granted, I was only there for a couple hours, but I wanted the children to still have the nice experience they usually have while in school. If it weren’t for this specific day, this specific moment, I would have never realized the true importance of bilingual educators. We always talk about the importance of having bilingual teachers but I had never actually seen why it is so important. It is truly sad that our schools offer bilingual programs but cannot always offer bilingual teachers. She was only the substitute teacher for a day, but that was one day that the children were deprived of their bilingual education. One day when they felt misunderstood. One day when they spoke, but weren’t heard. 

Student Reflection

by Nicole Mathes

The Garden Hills Community Pyramid

In class, we have been focusing on businesses and components that are essential to the success of those businesses. For the longest time, I have (mistakenly) thought that schools are NOT businesses—they do not sell or advertise goods and services, their main goal is different than striving to increase profits, and they do not have clients. However, after one particular day volunteering at Garden Hills Elementary School, I realized that schools are businesses or, at the very least, have similar systems that make up the overall pyramid of the corporation.

On this particular day, we had a substitute teacher in our class. In fact, ALL of the third grade teachers were at a conference that day, so there were substitute teachers for every single third grade classroom in the school. Substitute teachers are great, but they have a difficult job to perform. They have to hold the respect and attention of the students, maintain a positive learning environment, teach the lessons in an enjoyable and age-appropriate way, and attend to the individual needs of the students, while also following the school’s policies and standard routines. These are not easy tasks to do, especially if this is your first time subbing at a school or there is some confusion over the lesson plans.

The substitute teacher had experience subbing at Garden Hills, but not in the third grade classroom. There was also some confusion over the lesson plans—some of the students said that they had already completed the assigned writing activity, while others said that the class had not yet done this activity. And, since all of the regular third grade teachers were out of the building, there was no one to clarify questions about the lesson. The substitute teacher, my fellow tutors, and I need to rely on the students to help us and trusted that they would tell us the truth. Even though I have been tutoring at Garden Hills for several weeks, the class’s Friday schedules are not always the same. For example, during the time that I come in, they usually do a writing activity followed by a reading activity. However, sometimes they focus on reading in small groups with a tutor/teacher/parent volunteer or practice their spelling words. I do not know their reading level groups by heart and nor do I have a copy of their spelling words—the teacher would normally send groups to me, give me the book to read and/or give me the spelling words to practice. Once again, I needed the help of the students. To my pleasant surprise, they were on their best behavior and worked to help the substitute teacher and the tutors. At the end of the day, the substitute had to take Ms. Perez’s bus duty. She had never done bus duty before. A few other teachers (from kindergarten, second, and fourth grades), helped to explain her duty and find the bus.

Throughout the afternoon I saw many examples of teachers, staff members, tutors, and students helping the substitute teachers, which lead me to thinking about the “pyramid” structure of the school. In several classes that I have taken over my life, I have learned about business pyramids, networks, webs, systems, teams, etc. After this afternoon, I realized that schools have their own pyramid structure, similar to a business. For a business, different departments work together to provide goods and services to a client. In the case of a school, different systems (“departments”) work together to provide a quality education (“service”) to students (“client”). Some examples of different departments in businesses might be marketing, sales, human resource, production, etc. while in a school, the different systems could be teachers, counselors, principals, office staff, etc.

In the attached picture, you can see that the different colors of play dough represent the different systems in a school and that the Crayola markers symbolize the action of working together; the systems are interconnected. Together, all of these smaller, distinct systems work for the good of the whole community, or the “client” (represented by the ping pong ball at the top). In this case, I think that the community at Garden Hills would be the students. However, you can see that the community is interconnected with each system within the school, meaning that members of the community can also work to help the systems. On this day, not only did the other teachers and staff at the school work to help the substitute teachers , but the students (the “community,” the “clients”) worked to support and aid the substitutes, who could be considered the teachers in this case. Businesses often have changes in leaders, bumps in the road, problems with employees, or other challenges to overcome. Despite these challenges, the employees must work together to improve the production of goods and services, while also continuing to carry out the goal of the business. In this case, our third grade classroom had a change in the “leader.” It was important that everyone—students, volunteers, tutors, principals, teachers, office staff, etc.—work together to continue to carry out the mission of the school. Just like a business structure, the “pyramid” structure of Garden Hills is vital to its success and ability to provide a quality and enriching education to the students in the Champaign-Urbana community.      

Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 Items in my Office that Inspire Me and my Spanish Community Service Learning Work

by Ann Abbott

Doing community service learning work is rewarding, but it isn't always easy. To keep me going, I have a lot of things in my office that make me feel good. Here are just a few of them.
I keep a photograph of my girlfriends and me at one of our dinners at Bacaro. They provide me with perspective (because they all lead rich, interesting lives outside of academia), inspiration (because they are a playwright/novelist, Emmy-award-winning film producer, and serial entrepreneur), understanding (we all have three kids and busy husbands) and support (just because that's what friends do).
At last year's CIBER Business Languages conference at Indiana University, Darcy Lear and I first giggled about the crazy outfits the female board of trustees wore for their portraits through the years. Then we decided that they were our muses and snapped selfies with them. I printed two of them, wrote what these pictures represent to me and hung them up right across from my desk so I would feel inspired every day.

A busy professional must keep up her energy through the day. I drink plenty of water from this University of Illinois mug. The logo reminds me of our original mission: Learning and Labor. Plus, it is special because Walt Hurley gifted me this mug after participating in one of the many Scholarship of Teaching and Learning programs I participated in at the Center for Teaching Excellence, where I found my tribe. (Well, there and at the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership.)

One of my Etsy treasures: a steam punk bicyclist. It reminds me of my bike rides from home to campus--time that I use to think, plan, reflect, enjoy nature and let go of the things that weigh me down.

The most important piece in my office: a basket full of the notes that I have received from students and colleagues across the years. Many of them are thank-you notes for writing letters of recommendation. Some are holiday cards from former students and TAs who still stay in touch. A few are congratulatory notes on some achievement of mine. This basket is full, and it fills me up.
What inspirational items do you keep in your workspace? How do you maintain perspective even during the most intense parts of a semester?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Student Reflection

by Nicole Mathes

Garden Hills Elementary School

This year I chose to volunteer in the Champaign-Urbana community at Garden Hills Elementary School in Champaign. I have previously volunteered at Garden Hills Elementary with the SOAR tutoring program and was a tutor in the second, third, and fourth grade classrooms. Based on the experiences that I had with each grade, I decided to work in the third grade bilingual classroom. Even though I volunteered with SOAR for two years, I now realize that I did not have a full understanding or appreciation for the staff at Garden Hills. I was never able to see the teachers or faculty members “in action” since SOAR operates after school. Sure, I respected them like any other teacher, but now, after seeing what a typical day is like at Garden Hills (or rather, how there is no such thing as a normal day), I have come to have a much deeper appreciation for them. Garden Hills Elementary school is one of three sites for gifted programs, has a large focus on bilingual education and instruction, and strives for the students to obtain intercultural understanding and respect. Their mission is to engage and empower students “through a rigorous, internationally-minded, inquiry-based curriculum in order to become independent, life-long learners well-equipped to thrive and contribute within local and global communities.”

As I have witnessed, the teachers work very hard to try and carry out the school’s mission. Some of the students are more challenging than others and require a lot of individual attention; this is especially difficult when you have a class of 25 other students. I work in Ms. Perez’s third-grade bilingual classroom. The students in her classroom are all Hispanic, which means that she uses Spanish the majority of the time. The students are also at different academic levels. Some students have learning disabilities, some just need more individual attention, others are at age-appropriate academic levels, and others are a little bit above. My role in the classroom is to serve as a kind of teacher’s aide. Specifically, I work to improve the students’ reading comprehension, develop better writing skills, and understand math concepts. Ms. Perez typically sends students with me to a little alcove in the hallway to work.

 So far I am really enjoying my time at Garden Hills and am grateful to be exposed to “real” Spanish being used in the community! I am looking forward to the rest of my time at this school.