Put Your Community in Your Classes


Many colleges and high schools now include community service in their graduation requirements along with math, language arts and social science. A community service component adds in remarkable ways to any class. I have always made the community service class project worth ten percent of my students' class grade. You can write the project into your system any way you want, but it can almost always include all of the major academic skills. For example, a great project was "Seeds of Literacy." The students decided to raise some money to donate to the local preschool reading literacy organization. They wrote the plan and submitted it for approval by the school principal. After approval of the plan, they went out into the community and got pumpkin seeds, plastic bags, labels, seasoning and advertising space, all donated. They talked the life skills teacher into letting them use the school ovens to roast the seeds. After the seeds were packaged and labeled, they created a float for the town festival parade. Some kids were in the float, but most walked along selling the seeds to the crowd. A brochure was handed out with each sale, explaining the project and telling the person how to contribute more to the literacy program if desired. This project raised almost $800 for the program. The kids and their story appeared in the local paper. All in all, it was one of the best community service projects I have seen. Other classes have planted trees, painted murals, built signs and taught after-school classes. Making community service part of your curriculum helps kids understand that there is more to learning, more to being an educated human being in society, than grades and schools. It puts your kids in the community and your community in your class.

Steve Simpson is the editor of Ed.Net Briefs (http://www.edbriefs.com), a weekly online education newsletter with more than 60,000 readers. He earned his Ph.D. in communications at the University of Washington. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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