Student Learning Communities Allen Leventhal
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Student Learning Communities Allen Leventhal

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The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, revitalizes the role of literary reading in American popular culture by providing opportunities to read and discuss a single book......

The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, revitalizes the role of literary reading in American popular culture by providing opportunities to read and discuss a single book in communities. Early in 2008, CSM participated with organizations throughout Southern Maryland in The Big Read, and the initiative was incorporated in several literature courses as service-learning at various sites, on and off campus.

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  • 1. “Purposeful” Service-Learning
    Student Learning Communities: Literature and Developmental Reading
    Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference
    23 October 2009
    Judith Allen-Leventhal
    Division of Languages and Literature
    College of Southern Maryland
  • 2. The Origin of this Service-Learning Project: “The Big Read”: Spring 2008
    The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, revitalizes the role of literary reading in American popular culture by providing opportunities to read and discuss a single book in communities. Early in2008, CSM participated with organizations throughout Southern MarylandinThe Big Read, and the initiativewas incorporated in several literature courses as service-learning at various sites, on and off campus.
  • 3. “The Big Read” Simplified Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009
    • Students enrolled in Introduction to Composition and Literature (ENG 1020) and Introduction to Literature (ENG 2030) assisted students enrolled in Analytical Reading and Reasoning (RDG 0800)
    • 4. Common text: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines fall semester 2008 and spring semester 2009; The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini fall semester 2009
    • 5. Parallel curriculum
    • 6. Numerous comparable learning outcomes and objectives (e.g., analytical reading and writing skills)
  • Simplified and Enhanced Logistics
    • Identification of multiple “receiving” RDG 0800 faculty and classes/service sites
    • 7. Forms (contract, assignments) fine tuned
    • 8. Sites accessible, specific, easily contacted
    • 9. “Receiving” site communication and coordination facilitated
    • 10. Liabilities minimized
    • 11. Student service-learning participant scheduling facilitated
  • Service-Learning “Products”
    • Reflection Essay Assignment
    • 12. In-Class Written Assignment
    • 13. Class Presentation (to classmates in literature course)
    • 14. Diverse On-Site Service-Learning Presentation Options (determined by individual students or in collaboration with other students)
  • Outcomes/Benefits
    • Curriculum of all Students (both receiving and
    participating in service-learning ) is
    • Deepened
    • 15. Broadened
    • 16. Better Integrated
    • 17. Receiving Service Site (RDG 0800 class)
    • 18. Student learning needs served
    • 19. Appreciation of education provided by “peers”
    • 20. Learning communities established
  • Win Win: Multiple Learning Communities are Established
    • Student participants in the “sending” classroom work together in pairs or teams, designing materials and plans.
    • 21. Students in the “receiving” classroom site become more active learners.
    • 22. Service-learning participating students work together as teaching “peers” in the “receiving” classroom.
    • 23. Faculty of both service-learning participant students and receiving developmental students benefit through enhanced interaction and stronger shared learning outcomes
    • 24. The larger CSM learning community benefits through improved retention and more enthusiastic learners.
  • Additional Outcomes/Benefits
    • Improves communication skills
    • 25. Interests and engages experiential learners
    • 26. Provides opportunity to “try on” professions
    • 27. Learning improves with teaching, whatever the curriculum
  • Sample Service-Learning Projects
    English literature students (ENG 1020 and 2030) brought to the developmental students (RDG 0800) a variety of classroom enhancements.
    • Content
    • 28. formal power point presentations (e.g., outlining literary elements)
    • 29. “hands on” experiences (serving sample foods to illustrate aspects of setting and/or symbols)
    • 30. Standard “classroom” discussion
    • 31. Format
    • 32. Teams (within and between/among sections)
    • 33. Individual
    • 34. Pairs
    • 35. A
  • Continuing Challenges
    • Participating as an “option”
    • 36. Facilitating student participation without interfering
    • 37. Scheduling and logistical arrangements with the “receiving” RDG 0800 class
    • 38. Sharing of responsibilities equally in groups/teams of student participants
    • 39. Providing consistent quality of “service” to RDG 0800 students
  • The Future
    • Participate in CSM’s next Big Read: spring semester 2010: Fahrenheit 451.
    • 40. If possible, institutionalize the pairing of English literature students with developmental students in reading and/or writing.
  • “Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting” (*Hosseini 371).
    *Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. 2003. New York: Riverhead-Penguin, 2005. Print.