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How do students experience community-service learning in second grade?
“During a recent lesson activity involving complete and incomplete sentences, I asked my students why it was important to learn the concept. A girl at the back of the carpet quickly and enthusiastically raised her hand. I called on her and repeated my question, “Why is it important to know how to write and speak in complete sentences?” She confidently responded, “So we will do good on a test.” My heart sank. Recently, it seemed that the purpose of my students’ learning was to succeed with an upcoming test. I prodded a bit more and asked her how complete sentences would help her in life, not just on a test. She looked confused. She finally responded, “So we will pass our tests in college.”
As standardized testing plays a larger role in education, students are struggling to articulate why they are learning something and how it applies to other people. My study investigated how 23 second-grade students at Finney Elementary School, a public school in Southern California, experienced community service learning, which I defined as servicing other communities with what is learned in the classroom. By engaging in several community service learning projects and analyzing student surveys, journals, work samples, exit cards, observations, and classroom discussions, I was able to illuminate the many benefits of connecting student learning with the world beyond the classroom doors.”