Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaching Incarcerated Students about Spanish Community Service Learning

I'm excited to participate in the Education Justice Project this fall.
by Ann Abbott

I'm going to go to a prison this semester.

I've never been to a prison before. I know many people from my hometown, Clay City, Illinois, who have been to jail, mostly because of drugs. On the other hand, I also know a lot of people from Clay City who work as prison guards--one of the most coveted jobs in an area with mostly low-paying, low-security jobs.

I'll be going to the prison in Danville, Illinois to teach one class (just one day) through the Education Justice Program (EJP), run by Prof. Rebecca Ginsburg at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I have admired their work for many years, even donated small amounts to the project. (I always imagine that money going toward buying a tank of gas to drive from Champaign to Danville and back.) I have also long admired the work that Prof. Pamela Cappas-Toro (Stetson University, Florida) and Lee Ragsdale did with the program when they were a UI graduate students. Finally, I was in the front row last year to listen to Prof. Ginsburg speak about EJP in the Friday Forum at the University YMCA (you can see her talk in five parts: part 1, part 2, part 3part 4 and part 5.)

So I was delighted to receive this message from Rebecca earlier this summer:
"I'm writing to invite you to participate in the fall 2014 Discovery Series at Danville prison through the Education Justice Project (EJP). The Discovery Series is a not-for-credit course that we hold on Fridays between 5 - 8 each fall semester. The class is capped at 15. Each week we invite a different guest speaker. Speakers are free to address any topic they like--their latest publication, their research, a teaching subject they love to share…  We encourage them to distribute an appropriate reading in advance. It can be as small as an article, or an entire book. While the class lasts 3 hours, we don't expect guests to speak for 3 hours. An interactive format works much better. The classrooms are equipped with digital projectors and chalk boards."
I immediately replied yes, and here is my plan for the time I will be with these students.

Social Entrepreneurship and Service Learning: Business Concepts within Latino Contexts


  • Chapter 1 "Overview of the Social-Justice Model for Service-Learning" 
  • Chapter 3 "Becoming Committed to Social Justice"

Seminar Outline

1. Foreign Language Community Service Learning (CSL) and Social Justice
  • What is CSL and what does it look like in a Spanish class?
  • What are the connections between CSL and social justice?
  • What do students' reflections tell us about their experiences and learning outcomes? (Analyze student blog posts.)
  • What effect does CSL have on students' sense of civic engagement? (Share my research results.)
  • What do community members have to say about Spanish CSL?
2. Social Entrepreneurship and Social Justice
  • What is social entrepreneurship? (Dees' definition; my emphasis on process--identify opportunities, gather resources, produce something of value--over product.)
  • What are the connections between social entrepreneurship, CSL and Spanish? (Describe my course)
  • How do students apply the entrepreneurial process in a CSL context? (Examples of students' team projects.)
  • What are some examples of income-generating activities within nonprofit organizations? The key is to use existing capacities to generate income. (ECIRMAC,, Homeboy Industries) 
3. Business Concepts within Cultural Contexts

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