Mountain Connection, November 12, 2023
Kevin’s Spanish 4 students recently took their comprehensive understandings to the internet, creating podcasts – entirely in Spanish – to cap off their experiments with investigative journalism (or at least its simulacrum). Their project mimicked “El Hilo,” (The Thread), which is an offshoot of the NPR division Radio Ambulate that features prominent news stories concerning social, political and environmental issues in Latin America. His class divided into groups, formulated topics they intended to study, and then went about collecting interview material. In premise, their subjects for the interviews needed to cover both the categories of ‘professional’ and ‘personal.’ The interviews also took place in Spanish, so they had several options for the personal feature among the student body, including the Spanish 5 class who are all at or nearing fluency. Since the same logistics generally confined them to the SMS campus, however, they all fulfilled the professional criteria by interviewing our Spanish-speaking faculty, Kaiti, Kevin, and Michael. Topics ranged from the new breakfast policy – whether or not day students (and faculty who live off campus, cough cough) should be allowed to raid the grab-and-go cupboards, to how exposure to nature may impact mental health, to the new smart phone policy, and finally which is better: snowboarding or skiing. Actually, the smart phone policy generated further relevant data when, after completing the podcast, Kevin’s students conducted a subsequent, blind vote in class regarding whether they endorsed disallowing smart phones in public spaces during the academic day; the results came back in favor of the new guidelines among the twelve students, which generated further discussion within Samantha’s “Coffee with the Head” event during family weekend. Parents were curious as to what students thought, and Kevin was able to chime in with hard statistics. Kevin adds, “My favorite take-away from the assignment was the realization that giving students the opportunity to creatively explore an issue that interests them is a recipe for success. When the student engagement level is high, the project tends to turn out well.”
Feel free to judge the results for yourself at the links below.