Gusts and whitecaps on Lake Washington when I drive to Barnes & Noble to buy a map to pinpoint our community sites for the participants in our service learning workshop this afternoon. We have over 20 sites and still adding.
There wasn't time to cover everything in the workshop but we did reflect on the practice of community engagement through the eyes of the students and faculty currently doing the work at Cascadia.
Bethany Such, our AmeriCorps Retention Project Coordinator, has been our mainstay in developing community partners to work with our students. Since fall 2007 Bethany's been visiting local high schools, community centers and elementary schools to propose ways for Cascadia students to engage in service. Some of the ways include mentoring high schoolers in math and teaching English in the ELL (English Language Learners) class. There's now a core of students from Cascadia as well as University of Washington Bothell who continue to work at sites long after their 11-week class ends. Some students have also chosen to enroll in the AmeriCorps Students in Service program to work 300 volunteer hours and earn a $1,000.00 education grant..
From the students' perspective, service learning provides real experiences not available in the college classroom as well as access to diverse people they might not have the opportunity to meet on their own. Service learning also allows students to connect what they're learning to course content. Sociology instructor Lindsay Custer requires students to write reflections as well as to connect their observations (practice) to assigned readings (theory).
It seems we're all trying to find ways, as faculty, to connect our students to the web. The new WIKI site, 18000Campus Way, is an interactive, collaborative site for students, faculty and community members from Cascadia and UWBotherll to interact and share through postings. I'm already imagining next quarter and how to build on what my students accomplished this quarter. I'll require that they sign up for the WIKI and create a class home page. I'll ask that they read our/my blog and post comments in which they interact with not only my posting, but one another.
There's ways to write for the blog I'm reminded by English instructor Todd Lundberg. And, for sure, the format/style needs to allow breathing room for ideas to tendril and percolate such that the writing doesn't suffocate in a stash of crumpled papers students never reread.
And perhaps it's the question: How do we develop websites (such as our WIKI and my blog) where writing can flourish, live?
I'm intrigued with the idea that we will read one another and make time to respond.