Monday, April 30, 2012

Yo Era Un Estudiante Terrible De Español [Video]

I've been a little behind in getting out my blog posts this month. It reminds me of high school, when it seemed like I was always a little behind in completing my Spanish assignments. Looking back, not taking my language studies more seriously is probably one of my biggest educational regrets. More so now that I live in a world where hardly a day goes by that I don't hear the language being spoken. My linguistic shortcomings certainly weren't the fault of my dedicated high school Spanish teacher. She never gave up trying to get me more engaged in the classroom, and to her credit, I can muster a few useful phrases and words when the need arises.

The story, Spanish e-Pals, aired a few weeks ago on Classroom Close-up, NJ. It's about students at Emil  A. Cavallini Middle School in Upper Saddle River who are using social media to connect with students in Spain and practice their language skills. While we were making it, I kept wondering if having technology like this in the 1980's would have made a difference for me. Part of me thinks it definitely would have.

If you want to see the entire episode, it will be rebroadcast on May 6 at 6:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m, and 7:30 p.m. on NJTV or you can watch it online.

On a final note/confession, my original plan was to attempt writing this entire post in Spanish, both to experience what the students in this story are doing in the classroom, and as a long overdue apology/thank-you to my high school Spanish teacher, Ms. Sabo, for all those late assignments. But as you can see, all I managed to turn in was a hasty Google translation of the title. Algunas cosas nunca cambian.

Check out the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! While you're here, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Didn't Win a Nummy, But We Had a Great Time

Today, like many mornings, Lauren and I awoke to our five-year-old son zipping into our bedroom to start the day. Nate scampered over to my side of the bed, leaned in close to me and whispered, "Dad, did you win the Nummys?"

That's because when he went to bed last night, Lauren and I were in New York attending the 55th Annual New York Emmy Awards hoping to hear Classroom Close-up, NJ called as the winner in the category Education: Program Feature/Segment for one of my all-time favorite stories, KYBD Band. (I might have mentioned them a few times in this blog.)

It was a particularly memorable evening, because music teacher Carl Botti and five members of the band were also able to join us for the festivities. While I do hear from teachers I've met on shoots, or even see them again while working on other stories, I seldom run into students that I've interviewed for the show. It was great to be able to share the excitement of the evening with the students and find out what they're up to now. Two of them are still in the KYBD Band in middle school, while the other three have moved on to high school. I thought it was especially cool to learn that Lucy and Kyosuke, who are attending the same high school, have started another band and are still creating original songs. Even more cool was that the kids rolled into the Emmys on a school bus. Very rock'n'roll.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, even though we didn't get the Nummy (sorry, Nate), it was still a great night. I'm not going to say we don't like those little gold statues, but they're not the reason we make the show. We make it to recognize the work of the educators and students in New Jersey, and even though we receive tons of appreciative feedback on the show, getting to hang out with this group and talk about how much a story meant to them was pretty darn rewarding all by itself.

Check out the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! While you're here, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.