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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An introduction to DC SCORES service-learning

Note: During the spring DC SCORES season, each school comes up with a service-learning project to benefit their community as part of the Writing for the Community curriculum.

By Cory Chimka
Elementary School Program Director

A third-grader holds his coach’s cell phone to his ear with his shoulder. His hands are occupied, pencil and writer’s notebook at the ready. He knows what information he is looking for. He speaks confidently, professionally. He’s never called a business before, but he’s rehearsed this conversation, with his coaches and classmates playing the roles of store personnel.

“Can you please tell me the largest piece of plywood you sell?”

One teammate sits close in hot anticipation. He didn’t feel comfortable making the call, but in his lap lay the final designs for a sign his team hopes to create and attach permanently to the fence in front of their school. The design had gone through several edits.

The team agrees now, it’s perfect. They are proud.

At a computer across the room sit a pair of sixth grade girls. Originally, they sat down to find the phone number for the hardware store. Now they’re perusing the Home Depot website, researching paint colors and prices. They hope not only to use it on their sign, but to also spruce up the antique fire call boxes around their community like they’ve seen done in more affluent neighborhoods.

This is a snapshot of a scene unfolding in DC SCORES writing classrooms across Washington, DC. Coaches are taking a backseat, offering guidance and resources, as students plow ahead implementing sustainable projects of their own design to address and impact issues observed in their communities.

The students are gaining real-life experience and job readiness, sharpening academic and higher-order thinking skills, developing strong ties to their communities, and positively contributing to their schools’ climates and environments.

This is service-learning. This is DC SCORES.

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