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Learning.now is a weblog that explores how new technology and Internet culture affect how educators teach and children learn. It will offer a continuing look at how new technology such as wikis, blogs, vlogs, RSS, podcasts, social networking sites, and the always-on culture of the Internet are impacting teacher and students' lives both inside and out of the classroom.
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Teaching Jeff Corwin a Lesson Through Student Video Blogging

What do you do when you notice a TV personality could use a bit of help speaking Spanish? For a group of South Carolina sixth graders, the answer is to create a video blog and offer up some language lessons of their own.

Chris Craft is a Spanish teacher at CrossRoads Middle School in Columbia, SC. As part of his lesson plans, he’s occasionally used videos of animal expert Jeff Corwin covering his adventures in Latin America. His students have enjoyed the videos, but they noticed something right off the bat: Corwin’s Spanish isn’t exactly great.

“Since it is an exploratory Spanish class we focus on the sections where Jeff is speaking in Spanish,” Chris says. “He often jokes that his Spanish needs help. A few weeks ago a student wondered aloud whether we could help him since we were in the learning process ourselves.”

Chris and his students decided to offer up some personalized distance learning for Corwin and anyone else who wanted to improve their Spanish. They quickly set up a blog called TeachJeffSpanish.com and published an open letter to Corwin explaining the purpose of the site:

Dear Jeff,

We are a class of sixth graders at CrossRoads Middle School in Columbia, SC. We enjoy your show. We’ve noticed that you have used some Spanish on the Jeff Corwin Experience. We are going to help you with your Spanish so you can become even better.

This is not just for Jeff Corwin! If you want to practice your Spanish this website will help you too! We hope you enjoy this letter and of course this website. Remember, keep up your Spanish!


Mr. Craft’s Sixth Graders at CrossRoads Middle School

Some of the blog posts are brief notes from students offering Corwin Spanish words relevant to his work. “My friends and I thought that it would be cool if you could learn how to say snake in Spanish,” wrote one group of students. “Snake in spanish is … culebra!”

It didn’t take the students long to ratchet it up a notch and start posting videos to the blog. “A couple of my kids grabbed our camera and made a video,” Chris says. “Here’s the kicker - it was shot, edited and produced by them. All I did was handle some of the coding on building the site.”

The videos are done as scavenger hunts around the school, with clues leading them from one location to the next. The catch is that the clues are in Spanish, so they get help translating the words as they navigate around campus. They’re posting the videos on the blog, as well as on YouTube.

I have no idea if Corwin has heard about the student project yet. I certainly hope he does. How great would it be for these students to make that connection with him? Even if that doesn’t happen, though, they’re learning valuable lessons about Spanish by presenting their own lessons to the rest of us. Mucho gracias! -andy

Filed under : Blogging, Video, Youth Media


In today’s context knowing more than one language is an added advantage. There are innovative ideas and teaching methodology when it comes to scientific and mathematical field. However I see people very discontent with the way languages are taught and feel there is enough scope in this area. Teaching language involves lot of art and expertise. I still am of opinion that language classes should be introduced from the very early grade and should also be made compulsory. Also every language has its root and origin and thus the pedagogy for teaching should start with explaining the origin. “Student Video Blogging” is an interesting way to introduce the kids to language, help them develop scripts in the given language, and let them juggle with words. Video Blogging empowers student to think beyond the set framework and thus enables him or her to work with “n” no. of ideas.

Muchas! LOL! Cited you in my most recent post. Thank you for all the info always. —cp

I agree that knowing a second language is extremely important in today’s society. More precisely, Spanish. It is awesome how Mr. Craft connected the material to current events and an area that his students are interested. I feel that this method is very successful in motivating students and maintaining their interest. I also believe when students are as involved and as excited as his students appear to be, their comprehension of the material is better.

What fun! Even the URL is a hoot! Congrats to Chris Craft and his students for coming up with this wonderful idea - even if it won’t raise the test scores? :-)

Great job, Mr. Craft! I am proud to know you and your students.

Great idea, Chris, for keeping student interest in your subject and for applying it to new areas of interest.

This is a fantastic approach to teaching Spanish. It is fun for the students, and they are learning something! I especially like the idea of the scavenger hunt that is done in Spanish. This makes it challenging, rewarding and fun. Great Job! Keep up the Good Work!

I think this is a “muy bueno” idea and what teamwork and leadership these students have. You should be proud of them. Spanish (and any new language)is so important to learn in this growing global community. Keep it up!

“Chau Chau” (bye, bye),
Jennifer Marquardt

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