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:
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