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.

I’ll be posted questions and concepts on Twitter for a slow Twitter chat. Just what is that? A slow Twitter chat just means that people can respond whenever they can to a question that I post. I will post these regularly. Just search the hashtag #realandrelevant to join the conversation. I’m hoping we can celebrate the work of teachers and students, inspire more real and relevant work, and share resources and ideas with each other. I’ll also be giving away a copy of the book at some point during the next few weeks. You can also connect on Instagram as well, using the hashtag #realandrelevant. I’ll also be posting sketchnotes, resources, and inspiration under this hashtag!

We need students engaging in relevant, engaging learning that improves our world. We cannot disconnect schools from “real life.” Schools need to be real life– and prepare students to become engaged, respectful, equity minded, empathetic citizens. We don’t want to raise kids that can solve math equations but can’t see that all humans should have equal opportunities for life, liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness. And work towards making that happen, every day.

Please join me in making learning #realandrelevant for all students.

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