"did -you- have anything to do with this?"

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Each of my students this semester has been asked to think about a final project that they would like to pursue for the second half of the class. The topic for the project has to be something that motivates them (not me), it has to require interaction with native speakers for information as well as feedback, and its final form can be anything OTHER than an 8 1/2″ X 11″ sheet of paper (a series of blog posts, a series of podcasts, a movie, a concert, a dramatic performance, an art show…whatever) that will be presented to the class, followed by a 45 minute interview with me.In addition, they are being asked to blog about the process of creating the project outside of the classroom. My goal here is to see what kind of promise (and peril) these less-formal learning spaces can hold for my students.One student was having a very tough time trying to figure out what she would do. She took a course last semester in cultural psychology that really intrigued her, but did not feel she had the language or the Spanish- speaking contacts to find someone who would discuss that with her. But she blogged about it anyway.

This afternoon she came up to me and asked if I had anything to do with a response she received to her post. I did not. (To be honest, I did not even know that she had blogged it until she told me) Here is the post and the response.

Thank you Rose Mery Gómez Tovar from Bogotá Colombia for reading my student’s blog, for expressing interest in something she thought for sure no one was interested in, and for proving to my class once more how extraordinary these tools are…and how small the world really is.

Barbara has been working for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for about 15 years. In addition to teaching Spanish she runs a somewhat unconventional language center. Prior to this adventure in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and watch the Red Sox. Preferably not all at once, although that could be interesting. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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