08/08/2011
Teacher Tribute
Kelly Ann Coughlin is feeling "fancy"

Integrating service-learning in social studies methods course at Arcadia

NID teacher Kelly Ann Coughlin was thrilled when program staff Kim Kirn and Pam Prell invited her to present with them last spring at a gathering of graduate students at Arcadia University, her alma mater. The professors were so impressed with her hands-on knowledge of service-learning and her natural teaching style that they invited her to teach a course at Arcadia this summer.

"I feel fancy," said Kelly Ann in describing what it feels like to be an adjunct university instructor.

The course, Teaching Citizenship and Social Studies, is a methods class for teachers of social studies in elementary schools. A component of the course is integrating service into the curriculum. Kelly Ann invited Kim and Pam to describe NID's approach to service-learning at a class session in late July.

"I think they [her students] were a bit overwhelmed by all that's involved," she said. In her upcoming classes she intends to reassure them how empowering and organic the process can be.

A few of her students teach in School District "empowerment" schools, where teaching is largely scripted. Since Kelly Ann also teaches in a school that has not met AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress), she understands the frustration of having little unstructured time in which to guide students through a yearlong service-learning project -- one that addresses real-world issues.

"They were shocked when I told them that some of my students don't know what state they live in," said Kelly Ann. "Our social studies teacher had to implement a mandated reading program during the first few months of school," so, she said, she doesn't find this as surprising as her Arcadia students did.

Kelly Ann facilitates discussions about ways to help children be successful students and, more important to her, lifelong citizens -- conversations similar to those she has experienced in NID's teacher network.

"You would think that meetings among teachers would be a normal occurrence," she said. "But they're not. It's amazing how many ideas teachers can generate when given the time to share experiences and learn from each other."

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