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Service Learning

February 11, 2010

This year our high school English department altered one of our College Writing courses into an online course with a service learning focus.  All assignments will be online, and students can fulfill their service requirements during that fifth hour class. Students will volunteer in areas that interest them, and their writing will focus on issues related to their service organization.  Early reports from students and staff indicate the course has been a success.

Its emphasis on community involvement is an example of what is called service learning. Its use of technology and focus on real world connections, like volunteering at Brecon Village, illustrates a growing interest in service learning, and what some refer to as “21st century skills.” We have debated what 21st century skills really mean. Many think it describes the need to apply knowledge to real world problems, collaborate and be creative. But some wonder how to fit these into the traditional curricular focus on math, reading, writing, and other content.

“It is important to avoid simplistic ‘either or’ thinking about 21st century skills,” Craig Jerald wrote for the Center for Public Education in his report, Defining a 21st Century Education.

“Factual knowledge, the ability to follow directions, knowing how to find a right answer when there is one — all of these things will still be important in the 21st century,” he continued. “The key is to develop a curriculum that teaches students those things as well as how to apply what they learn to solve real world problems.”

So what does it take to provide these experiences?  First, it takes fearless and innovative teachers.  Second, it takes students and parents who see the value in a rigorous curriculum and who are also willing to try the flexible environment this type of course offers.  Lastly, it takes community partners who help provide these “real life” experiences for our students.

If you are a parent of a Saline High School student – I encourage you to consider this type of course for your son or daughter.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kelly Saiya-Cork permalink
    February 14, 2010 9:14 pm

    It is very refreshing to see online classes presented to students in a way that makes educational sense.

    This class is optional to students. Those who have elected to take it have the enthusiasm and drive to be successful.

    It is this type of optional online class that makes Saline a success. Let’s continue to remember though, choices make the difference.

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