Learning that had real consequences
had the greatest impact on students,
such as building competition skateboard ramps.
Community Connections emphasizes experiential learning that is relevant to students'
personal needs and interests. Events and experiences in the community are the
context for learning. For example, in the summer of 2000 (the first year of
the program) during the first week of the program, students and staff produced
poetry and photography for the county fair. With deadlines to meet, students
had to stay focused and organized to have their submissions ready on time. Clemens
Stark, an Oregon poet, led a workshop that kicked off students' poetry writing.
This was also the beginning of the process of making students actively aware
of the habits of mind (such as persistence, checking for accuracy, questioning,
and problem-posing). Students took digital and black and white photographs related
to their poetry. Then they superimposed their poems on to the photographs. This,
like all of the projects in Community Connections, gave students the opportunity
to develop and apply real-world skills by assuming adult responsibilities. This
can sometimes be a risk when dealing with young people with behavioral issues.
But all of the students in Community Connections rose to the occasion.
Another important experiential piece of Community Connections is to allow
students to learn to trust one another in a variety of non-threatening settings.
Two-thirds of program time is spent outside of the classroom. Students do
Tai Chi every morning, forcing them to develop a nonverbal focus by following
nonverbal cues. They played ultimate Frisbee in the quad and put on a play
in the cafeteria. The idea was to explore new opportunities and settings for
self-expression and teamwork.
1 2 3 4 5 6