Tag Archives: education

Start the School Year: Real and Relevant with Service and Project Based Learning

It’s almost time. Teachers are starting to have cold sweats and stress dreams, but also that seed of excitement and looking forward to seeing their students again. The new school year is upon us.

With everything happening in the world– it is clear to me that the path forward in education is to engage kids in meaningful, relevant, connected work that improves the community and  world, while growing empathy and self-efficacy in kids.

Research has told us that service learning has the capability to disrupt bias and fight stereotypes. We need this now more than ever. We can use project and service based learning as a tool to improve communities, school culture, and empower students to see other perspectives while helping to solve real problems.

I am heartened by all the progress in this regard. Schools across the country to moving toward personalizing learning for students, using tools such as service and project based learning across the curriculum.

In this spirit, I am launching Start the School Year #realandrelevant. My latest book, Real and Relevant: a guide for service and project-based learning,  came out in June, 2017, and is a guide for busy teachers who want to begin or deepen service and project based learning in their classrooms. It is the second edition of this book, and the new edition adds chapters on technology tools; a summary of my research on how service learning at the middle school level can contribute to personal growth; project based learning; and more examples from the field, including updated resources and examples.

Continue reading

Real and Relevant: a guide for service and project-based learning

Things are moving fast on the new edition of Real and Relevant: a guide for service and project based learning. This is an update to Change the World with Service Learning: How to organize, lead and assess service learning projects, published in 2011. The new edition will be released on June 30th, 2017 and is now available for pre-order in both hardback and paperback (or even better, ask for it at your local bookstore).

What’s new in this edition?

  • New chapters (on project based learning; my research on middle level service learning; Genius Hours and Makerspaces; and technology tools to support service and project-based learning.)
  • New foreword by the amazing Penny Bishop, researcher, author, professor, and Associate Dean of the School of College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont.
  • Updated and expanded resources (both at the end of each chapter and in the references).
  • New interviews with teachers and examples from the field throughout.

Here’s what two professors had to say about the new edition:

“With an intimate portrayal of her service learning experience, elementary teacher and teacher educator Katy Farber provides a hands–on guide for other teachers to take the plunge into service/project based learning. Her extensive practice and research allows for an up-to-date understanding of service/project based learning, so that teachers can engage students from grades 3-12 at the classroom, school and community level. As a teacher educator, I find this guide invaluable for introducing service/project based learning to my pre-service and practicing teachers.”

–James Nagle, Associate Professor, Saint Michael’s College; Co-Director, Middle Grades Collaborative

“This book is a tremendous resource for the 21st century progressive teacher. Offering a powerful balance of practical guidance and research-based examples, this new edition provides a comprehensive toolkit for service learning in the 21st century. The addition of new chapters devoted to technology, Makerspaces, and Genius Hours provides a compelling and timely illustration of the authentic ways in which service learning can work in conjunction with other contemporary movements in education.”

–Jessica DeMink-Carthew, Assistant Professor, Department of Education, Middle Level & Elementary Teacher Education, University of Vermont)

And how about the new cover? I hope it reflects the kind of deep student engagement and heart centered work I would love to inspire with this book.

I’ll be posting about giveaway opportunities shortly for June 30th, so please stay tuned. And if you are a professor or blogger interested in reviewing a copy of this book please contact me or Rowman Littlefield Publishers.

Support PE in Schools (good for health and learning)

This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Imagine you are 11. Your body is being possessed. One minute, you are a kid, wanting your
stuffed animal at bedtime. The next minute, you are listening to the news and worrying about Russians taking over our elections. Your body, it’s antsy. It is changing fast. Your life is full of activities, confusing social dynamics, and people telling you what to do, and when.

Then you get to PE.

PE, for many kids, is the release valve. It is where they can move their bodies and shake off the math lesson, the cruel joke, or the latest test. PE can also be where they gain confidence, learn how to take care of their bodies, and where they learn how to play with other kids.

image from http://wenatchee.innersync.com/col/

As a teacher, I saw how different students acted on days with and without a PE class. Aside from the occasional post PE argument about who won, students came back to class with bodies and minds ready to settle back into learning.  The days with no PE, or the worst, indoor recess?

No so much.

A brain needs movement breaks. With a packed curriculum, standardized testing,  and increasing pressures, this can be hard for the teacher to provide. That is why recess and PE classes are so critical.

Research shows kids need 60 minutes of physical activity per day and PE programs help our kids get to this minimum for their health and wellbeing. PE addresses the needs of the whole child, positively impacting their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Here’s the problem: Only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools provide daily PE or its equivalent for the entire school year. How does that impact student learning, wellbeing, and their overall health?  According to a report by University of Texas School of Public Health, kids need PE to be treated like a core subject like math or literacy: Continue reading