Honors English Classes Combine Learning with Service

Honors English Classes Combine Learning with Service
Posted on 12/15/2017
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student describing service learningThe 211 students enrolled in honors English at the Lakota East Freshman building have just completed a service learning project which combined curriculum-based learning with community service. This is the third year for the assignment.

Students were charged with researching issues impacting the community, discovering an area they feel passionate about and contacting a local organization to serve. A minimum of five hours of community service was required for the project, along with completing a reflection sheet for each day of service. The assignment culminated in a presentation to their peers about the experience with the service organization, including how others can get involved.

Stephanie Pearce, one of the three teachers assigning this project, noted, “Students tend to take some warming up to the idea because it is something very different to what they have done in the past, but once they begin the project and their service they come back bursting to share their experience. Many students in their presentations mention things along the lines of how surprised they were by how much they enjoyed their service and many students continue their service though the project has ended.”

Blake Richards would agree. Skeptical about the assignment when he first heard about it, Blake said, “This was not just a normal write an essay (assignment).” However, his opinion shifted as he delved into the work. Blake, like several students, found his organization through Lakota’s partnership with Edge Teen Center. He volunteered with SELF (Support to Encourage Low-income Families) and helped rehab a house.

For her project, Molly Moreland volunteered her time at the Lakota East Craft Show. Helping with setup, Molly assisted the crafters with unloading their supplies and bringing them to their stations. She said, “It was a good way to connect with people in the community.” Also volunteering at the Craft Show was Annelise Gayer. She said that volunteering was a fun experience. This assignment showed Annelise that she could “make an impact on the community and be a part of something that was bigger than (herself).”

Corrin Hammonds was excited for the opportunity to volunteer at The Healing Center. She said, “(This assignment) was so much more than (writing an essay). You got to see how you can affect the community...When you tell people you got to volunteer, they ask how they can, too, and it’s like a chain reaction.”

As in years past, there has been a wide range of service organizations chosen for this project. They range from well-known organizations like Matthew 25 Ministries and Reach Out Lakota to local projects like RASKALS and the East High School craft show.

The teachers have three primary goals for the project: academic, citizenship and life skills. The project meets speaking and listening standards for learning. Giving the students the opportunity to be involved in community service speaks to citizenship, and increasing their awareness of the needs around them is a life skill.

At the end of the year, Pearce asks her students for feedback about the class. “Most (students) bring up the Service Learning Project as one (assignment) they enjoyed and really remember completing,” she said. Amy Mahaffey, an honors English teacher at East, said, “Service learning is learning that I can’t offer in the classroom but can only be experienced when students are totally engaged in serving others.”