Great article on service learning

Lots of good stuff in the newest issue of Educational Leadership, with the theme Reaching the Reluctant Learner. Many teacher leaders will connect to the article by David Berliner and Sharon Nichols, Taking the Joy Out of Learning. “Research has not fully examined the impact of [the] test-dominated school environment on students’ attitudes and dispositions toward learning,” they write. “But we suspect that for most students, schooling is less joyful than it was; and for reluctant learners, schooling is worse than ever.”

What you won’t see in the print version of the March EL — but you can see right now in the online edition — is an excellent article by TLN member Kathie Marshall, a literacy coach in the Los Angeles public schools. Kathie describes the many service learning projects she’s been involved with over the years that put the joy BACK into learning. It’s titled AT YOUR SERVICE and it’s a must read for any teacher leader interested in involving students in authentic activities that make a little difference in the world. Kathie asks:

How can we reengage disconnected students with a zest for learning and hope for the future? How can we prepare them to be contributing members of society? The answers to these questions are important for all students, because if we can figure out what works best for our most reluctant learners, we will be headed in the right direction for all.

She offers some research about the “keys to reengagement” and devotes the remainder of the article to stories that illustrate the learnings to be gleaned from her own experience. She ends with resources that can help other teachers “get their feet wet” as they begin to pursue this powerful teaching strategy.