Thursday, March 6, 2008

Teaching Jeff Corwin Spanish

Sometimes, you don't have to have a person in your classroom -- virtually or physically -- to inspire students and prompt real-world learning. In another great teacher profile in EducationWorld, Cara Bafile introduces us to sixth grade Spanish teacher Chris Craft and the blog

It started innocently enough. Craft looked through programs that CrossRoads Middle School received through Discovery Education Streaming for real-world applications of Spanish. He especially wanted to find examples of fluent Spanish used by people in all disciplines. What he came up with was several clips of Jeff Corwin joking about his deficient Spanish in spite of his frequent trips to Central and South America. One student comment started the whole project:
"One day, after showing a short clip as class was winding down, a student haphazardly remarked, 'We should teach him [Jeff Corwin] some Spanish.' The idea simmered for a day until I saw those students again and we began to brainstorm," Craft recalled. "In the following class periods, after the lesson was complete, we worked on what type of site we would develop, what features to add, and how it should look."
Students worked together to create a "Scavenger Hunt for Spanish" program and "word of the day" posts. Craft set up the WordPress blog and was launched. But at the end of his nine weeks with that particular class, Craft worried that the project would stop.

Fortunately, two girls who had acted in some of the programs were allowed to work with Craft for an additional nine weeks. Because they worked while Craft taught a different class, the girls asked for the video camera and started doing everything themselves. Craft stepped back and let them shine while he set up a podcast feed and got permission to put the videos on YouTube and TeacherTube.

Feedback was immediate and intense. Says Craft: "In the span of roughly one month, we saw more than 1,300 unique views to the site, and more than 500 collective views of the two shows. We have also received a number of complimentary messages." He also stresses that it was important to let the students take the lead: "Had I not been willing to hand those kids a camera and trust them, the show never would have been produced." has been on a brief hiatus because the two girls producing the show are no longer in Craft's class. But two new hosts have approached Craft and a new episode should be ready soon!

SOURCE: "Teaching Jeff Corwin Spanish: Starring: Chris Craft" 02/19/08
photo courtesy of Nancy-, used under this Creative Commons license

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