12/02/2008
My Voice My Community
A perfect storm of service-learning

In the eye of the storm

“It feels like a big swirling circle --- like a tornado --- and we’re getting to the eye of the storm!” Alicia and Shianne excitedly shared. They were discussing the process their 6th grade classmates at Fishtown’s Hackett School are experiencing as they deepen their understanding of the social issues being considered for their service-learning project. Many topics emerged; fifty-one, to be precise.

Next came the task of putting those ideas in the appropriate category – was this connected with violence? or health? discrimination? environment? Kelsea says reading articles about various issues makes her more aware of things she never thought about before. The students are also beginning to talk about connectivity between issues.

“When we started this, confesses Rhianna, “I thought we’d be picking up trash or something like that. But we’re doing a lot more. This is grown up stuff and we might even have some really good ideas!” “It’s making us feel more responsible,” agrees Bioletta.

Even at this early stage, “This has been a really good experience,” for Gregory. “It has changed my mind completely --- made me think really hard. I play a lot of video games and a lot have guns and are very violent. I never thought about gun violence that way, but now I’ve cut back on the real violent ones.”

Teacher Cidney Alexander does all she can to ensure the students feel ownership of their project. The classroom theme this year is “Capable People” and the mix of students has presented the perfect opportunity for reinforcing that concept. “It’s so refreshing to see the students supporting one another in their roles,” she comments.

Ms. Alexander’s class would be tickled to know she signed a recent email message to NID “A Proud Teacher.” We totally understand why.