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Service learning at another level

Eighth grade projects combine research and direct experience
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
 
photos: eighth graders today at Higher Ground International, the Providence Children’s Museum, Coggeshall Farm Museum and Amos House. Other sites this year include the Agnes B. Hennessey School, City Farm, Pleasantview Elementary, Highlander Charter School, Children’s Friend and the East Providence Senior Center.

Since 1988, Gordon’s eighth graders have worked at local schools and non-profits for an extended service learning project. 

Each participant works at a single location five days a week for four weeks, allowing them time to interact with the community that the agency serves.




After returning to Gordon in the afternoon, the students research the organizations they’ve been working with each morning, and the populations that they serve.

They combine that research with interviews and observations they have collected at their service sites.




At Thursday’s CJ Buckley Experiential Learning Night, this year’s eighth graders will present what they have learned.




They might tell stories about sharing breakfast with West African seniors, spending recess with wheelchair-bound Kindergarteners, and preparing lunch at Amos House.

But they’ll also talk about the refugee crisis caused by the Liberian civil wars, the 
accommodations guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the most likely paths out of homelessness in Providence, Rhode Island.




They will also explain a specific need they identified at their host organization, and what they did to address it; these contributions might range from leading a conversation about playground behavior to creating a video that the organization can use to showcase their work.




Gordon’s service learning demands more than just volunteerism.

It asks eighth graders to engage with the populations they are serving, to ask smart questions about the challenges they face, and to allow themselves to be changed by the experience.
 
 

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