Service Learning takes off

It seems like my classroom this year is a bundle of activity. I think much of it is attributable to the 20 Time projects, but some of it stems from my desire to not repeat the same lessons year to year. Changing things up each year keeps me and my students from getting bored, but it also creates a tension within myself that I never really have a handle on what is going on. Sometimes I wish I could just do the same canned lessons, but it is not my way.

I continue to be impressed by the work the students are pouring into the 20 Time projects. This week we had an inspirational visit from Justin Anderson, founder of Woats. Justin showed up at our library, settled into a chair amongst the students and shared his journey. I saw excitement on student’s faces I never see excited about school. They were rapt as Justin told of his humble start and tumultuous path to where he is today. The students asked thoughtful questions and Justin provided honest, meaningful answers. The students and Justin followed each other on Twitter, sampled Woats and spent a meaningful afternoon discussing risk-taking and following your passions. Justin’s wisdom from the day: “Take risks; follow your passion; start today!”


Just two days after Justin Anderson’s visit, one of my 20 time teams made a major move forward on their journey. The project dubbed “The Steve Project” started with a local homeless man that my students had met and helped on different occasions. They wanted more of their peers to know about Steve and others like him who had fallen on hard times and needed a little help. The team went through a number of ideas about how to approach what they wanted to accomplish. I received an email from the local Goodwill coordinator inquiring about organizing a coat drive at the school. I immediately thought of “The Steve Project” team. I encouraged the young men to contact Goodwill and see how their two ideas could intersect. They met with the coordinator during class this week and hammered out plans for a school-wide coat drive accompanied by a pep rally and presentation about the homeless in our area and programs that Goodwill offers to ease their lives. I am so proud of the young men for reaching out and coordinating the meeting and the project in general. I think great things will happen for them. The skills they are gaining through this project are so valuable and the most important thing is they are excited and passionate about what they are doing.

It is experiences like these moments when I get to glimpse things the kids really care about that makes everything I do worth it. From our writing marathon and Harkness discussion to students preparing their proposals for the Verizon App challenge, it was an amazing week with my students!

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