Monday, February 9, 2015

Spanish Community Service Learning: First Day of Class

by Ann Abbott

I have shared my first-day-of-the-semester lesson plans before.

I think the first day is really important. You have a chance to make a big impression. So I always teach. I don't go through the syllabus and tell them I'll seem them next time.

So here's what I did on the first day of class of the Spring 2015 semester. It walked them through our never-ending cycle of class, community, class, community...


I thanked students for signing up for this course. I know that it is an elective and that for many students it doesn't officially "count." It takes a special student to take one the unique work for this class and to show solidarity with a vulnerable community.

Then I put them into pairs, told them to talk five minutes (hablar sin parar) about why they are taking this class. They had many reasons--speaking Spanish, keeping up their Spanish after a study-abroad experience, a friend took the course and recommended it, etc.


I told students that they will have to work 28 hours in the community. Our work in the class will help prepare them for their work in the community, and their work in the community will inform our class discussions. I showed them the wiki that they will use to sign up and previewed some of the choices they have for their community partners.


Before playing the video below, I wrote these phrases on the board:
  • Algo que ya sabías.
  • Algo que no sabías.
  • Una pregunta.
I told them to take notes while watching the video below so that they could then write down a sentence for each phrase.

Students were very interested in this video. And most of the information was new to them.


Then I passed out telephone message pads. I told them that the situation in the video isn´t just happening in Texas. Our community is also impacted by the border crossings of young people.

I read this message from a local Latino leader. Students had to listen and take down the information on the telephone pad. That's hard! They saw that they had a lot to learn, even with just the Spanish language. But of course it also shows an example of the needs that they will encounter in our community. 
FAVOR: tengo un estudiante de High School que tiene cita con inmigración en Chicago el día 4 de febrero a las 9 am. Este estudiante no tiene a sus padres aquí ni a ningún adulto que maneje. Si alguien va a ir a Chicago ese día por favor comuniquense conmigo si pudieran darle ride a este muchacho. Yo pago la gasolina. La persona que lo lleve no necesita entrar con el a su cita, puede dejarlo afuera del edificio y esperarlo ahí. La cita no tarda mas de una hora. Si alguien esta interesado en ayudar por favor avisenme. Gracias!

So that's it. My first class of the new semester. We talked about class, then the community, then did classwork, then talked about community needs. And that's what we'll continue to do all semester.

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