10 TED Talks that demonstrate the power of experiential learning

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 03:55 PM


Service-learning and experiential learning can transform the way students absorb information by integrating real-world experiences with classroom lessons. Check out these TEDx talks that explore how service-learning is helping students understand social issues and empowering them to take action. 

 

  1. How to Learn? From Mistakes— Diana Laufenberg
    November 2011 at TEDxMidAtlantic
     
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    “If we continue to look at education as if it's about coming to school to get the information and not about experiential learning, empowering student voice and embracing failure, we're missing the mark.”

    Diana Laufenberg describes how projects that challenged her students to use what they learned in class to create and interact with the world were the most fruitful parts of their learning.  She describes assignments that she gives students, forcing them to interact with the world as a way of absorbing classroom topics.   In all of these assignments, Laufenberg emphasized the importance of allowing students to make and learn from mistakes as a powerful method of learning.


  1. Secrets of engagement based learning— Gever Tulley
    September 2012 at TEDxBratislava

    “Create a meaningful experience, and the learning will follow”

    Gever Tulley focuses on how education should be redesigned to create experiences rather than curriculum. In Tulley’s school, Brightworks in San Francisco, children learn by creating.  He outlines an experiential learning process: exploring ideas in the real world, creatively expressing their new knowledge, and sharing their learning with others.

 

  1. 3 rules to spark learning— Ramsey Musallam
    April 2013

    Ramsey Musallam is a high school science teacher who believes the role of educators is to spark creativity and inquiry in their students. He advocates for integrating technology into education to facilitate question-driven rather than content-driven learning. In his talk, he outlines three rules for educators: curiosity comes first, embrace the mess, and practice reflection. The learning process is nonlinear, and constant adaptation to students’ needs is necessary.  By following these three rules, educators fulfill the purpose of teaching: cultivating curiosity, inquiry, and imagination. 


  1. Service and schools -- partnership on purpose— Jim Kielsmeier
    August 2013 at TEDxFargo

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    "Meaning and purpose in one's life is not something that's given.  It's earned.  It's something that comes through significant service and contribution."

    Jim Kielsmeier is the Founder and President/CEO of the National Youth Leadership Council, and founder of the Center for Experiential Education and Service-Learning.  He talks about the history of service in American culture, and his work today bringing service to education.  He has dedicated his life to trying to figure out how to make service a ubiquitous part of growing up.  Kielsmeier describes service-learning as “a new way of thinking about young people.” Encouraging young people to enact positive change in their community in service-learning class settings is the “new way” of thinking about education.


  1. Kids, Take Charge— Kiran Sethi
    November 2009 at TEDIndia

    “If learning is embedded in real world context…then children go through a journey of: aware, where they can see the change; enable, be changed; and then empower, lead the change.”

    Kiran Sethi is an educator who inspires her students to live by two simple words: “I can.”  She does this through a teaching process that incorporates service with learning to show children the empowering quality of knowledge.  This style of learning correlates with better performance in school.  In her classes, she saw that “when children are empowered, not only do they do good [in the community], they do well [academically].”  She believes that teachers should challenge students to be positive change makers. In school, children should go from “the teacher told me to I am doing it.”



  2. The life-long learner— Ben Dunlap
    March 2007
    That irrepressible desire to know”

    Ben Dunlap shares how several mentors in his life have influenced him as a learner.  He emphasizes the importance of being a lifelong learner, of always seizing the moment as one that can be learned from.  Learning comes from education, but once a person is finished studying and begins working in the real world, learning continues as an amalgamation of experiences and interactions with the experiences of others.



  3. A camera for experiential learning— Shree Nayar
    November 2014 at TEDxColumbiaEngineeringSchool

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    Shree Nayar talks about a build-it-yourself kit called “Big Shot” to build your own camera.  The learner is exposed to all the scientific processes occurring in the camera from how batteries work to LED lights and from pixels to how the LDC screens displays the picture. It also looks into the steps that lead to capturing a picture with a camera.  Building this camera often leads to a new interest in science, but also leaves the learner with a fully functional camera to capture moments in his or her life.  As Nayar puts it, the product’s greatest asset as a tool for experiential learning is that “it allows you to juxtapose the sciences and the arts in a single learning experience.



  4. Experiential Learning Helps Both Students & Local Businesses— Fernando Padilla
    March 2012 at TEDxAshokaU

    Fernando Padilla describes how his experiences show that local businesses and schools can partner up to better local economies and students’ education. Students are paired with struggling local businesses and volunteer to help the business become more successful.  The local economy is strengthened.  The students bring knowledge and in turn get the satisfaction of helping someone. In addition, students gain valuable professional experience and start building networks—both of which will be useful when they begin searching for jobs after finishing school.



  5. The Future of Education without Coercion— Shawn Cornally
    June 2011 at TEDxEastPrep

    “Lets do something for real. Have them [students] come up with it. Let me help guide them.”

    Shawn Cornally proposes a new way of educating students and assessing their performance.  He believes the role of the teacher should change from one that give information and tests to one who gives a lesson and then challenges students to create something based on the knowledge they have gained.  The teacher acts as a guide for this creative process. Students learn by struggling with the information rather than memorizing it. 



  6. Bring on the learning revolution!— Sir Ken Robinson
    February 2010

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    “And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.” 

    Sir Ken Robinson argues that education reform is not what we need. What we need is an education revolution.  The current education system is based on a standardized, industrial system.  However, what education should be is one that is personalized to local situations.  Education should follow a grassroots, “agricultural system” where each student can flourish in his or her school.


 

If you're looking to get the most out of experiential learning and service-learning, don't forget to integrate service reflections



 

Students Should Take Advantage of All College Has to Offer

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 02:59 PM

There are many words I would prefer my children not use (even though they’ve heard a few of them at home!). However, there are three words I hope I never hear them say - "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda!" (Okay, technically those aren’t words, but I’m sure you get my meaning.)

As my children begin their college years, I want them to take advantage of everything this time in their life has to offer. It’s not just about getting your money’s worth – although that’s an important lesson – whether you are paying tuition or your kids are taking out loans. This is the time to take risks. Try new things. Meet new people. Step out of your comfort zone.

There are many things I wish I had done during my college years (and maybe a few I wish I had not done!). I wish I had developed more of a relationship with teachers and sought their advice. I also wish I had taken more advantage of clubs, school organizations, and service work, but I let self-doubt and fear prevent me from taking those risks. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with my life. I had a wonderful college experience. Hindsight is 20/20. Things happen for a reason, but I don’t want my kids to have regrets about not taking chances. Four years (or maybe five or six!) go by very quickly. It’s a great time of life to discover who you are, find friends with different opinions and passions, and transition from child to adult. So, as my second son begins this new phase, I’ve consulted the highest authorities – nostalgic parents, friends, and recent college graduates to offer their words of wisdom. Will he listen? I honestly don’t know. Maybe, though, these pearls of wisdom will remain in the back of his mind when an opportunity presents itself. And, instead of looking the other way because it might require effort and risk, he might just hear that little voice of mine and decide to go for it.

So, here’s a quick list for college students to consider as they get ready for school. If those of us that have graduated could go back, these are the things we would do differently! 

Wish Lists from the "Woulda Coulda Shoulda’s"lsutiger_stadium

1. I wish I had gone to more events...ballgames, rallies, etc.

2. I wish I had served on a student government board.

3. I wish I had spent more time meeting individually with professors to pick their brains. I view it as a missed opportunity.

4. I wish I had done more volunteering.

5. I wish I had joined an Engineering club.

6. Sometimes, I wish I had gone to school out of town.

7. I wish I had taken my undergraduate studies more seriously.

8. I wish I had understood that it wasn't about the points to get a certain grade, but that it should have been about really learning. Graduate school was a rude awakening.

9. I wish I had gone to college with a more open mind and not a specific major.

10. I wish I had switched majors.

11. I wish I had traveled abroad.

12. I wish I had gone to the Bruce Springsteen concert rather than study for an anatomy test. (Okay, I’m not advocating choosing a concert over studying. However, every student needs to take a break once in a while. It’s good to recharge! And, no, this wasn’t me.)

10 Suggestions from current students, teachers and alums:

1. Go to Class!

2. Get out there and enjoy it all. Take it seriously and always do your best.

3. Sign up for a club.

4. Utilize resources available on campus, including services like writing centers and tutoring.10264317_10152504222274744_8343547831175655741_n

5. Volunteer on campus or at local organizations. Take time to help others.

6. Develop a good relationship with your professors. They can be great mentors. Take advantage of their office hours. You want the people who determine your grades to know your name and that you're working hard. They can also clarify course material, provide guidance on papers, and offer tips on how to prepare for tests.

7. Study abroad for a full year. (If a year is too long for you, consider studying abroad for one semester, the summer, or holiday breaks.)

8. Take computer classes even if they are not required for your major.

9. Get to know the history and traditions of your school.

10. Reach out and meet new people.

What are your suggestions and tips for incoming freshmen and current college students? Did we miss anything? Share your words of wisdom here!

 

 Photo credit: Dolly Duplantier & Delta Upsilon, Global Service Initiative Trip 

Topics: back to school, education, volunteering, higher ed, service, graduates, opportunities, college major, higher education, college, involvement, College advice

Orientation Helps Students and Parents Transition to College Life

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

All around the country, high school graduates are packing their overnight bags for college orientation. When I was a freshman, back in the dark ages, orientation took place just a few days before you began school. Universities now have new students choose from two or three day sessions beginning as early as March and continuing until the start of the Fall semester.

Orientation is not just for students! Parents are now encouraged to attend to learn about the university, as well as obtain a comfort level about sending their children away to school. Sessions address concerns about managing time, dining plans, housing and residence issues, academic advising, financial aid and money matters, safety, and being away from home.

orientation

“Orientation is important for students and parents, especially for freshmen,” said Lindsey Storey, director of orientation and events at Mississippi State University (MSU)  in Starkville. “They’re coming out of high school and it’s hard for parents to let go. We want the students excited to come back in August and we want the parents to feel good and confident about sending their students to MSU. Our goal is to help parents and students transition to a new chapter in their lives.”

“I felt that orientation got me even more excited about college and I loved hearing about the experiences of the older college students,” said Kate Rosamond, an incoming freshman at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge

“Every kid has something that they may be nervous about,” said Storey. “We want to alleviate that stress, fear, or doubt. For the student that is really excited, we want to reassure them they made the right decision.”

Orientation provides students a chance to get adjusted to the campus and learn their way around before it’s packed with undergraduate and graduate students. At some schools, students have the option of staying on campus to get a true higher education experience.

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Parents and students attend some general sessions together and then students are separated into smaller groups for more intimate Q&A sessions. Group leaders are college students and usually go through a rigorous interview process and training. At MSU, they are competitively selected from among a student body of 20,000. A concentrated course prepares them to lead tours, sessions, and answer questions.

During breakout sessions, students are taken around campus and may complete tasks like getting student ID’s, a campus mailbox, or signing up for the school’s recreation center. Orientation leaders also discuss college living, student involvement, the surrounding community, and student life in general.

“I learned a lot from the group leaders,” said Jeremy Siegel, an incoming freshman at MSU. “They stressed that in addition to academics and going to class, it was also really important to get involved and be a part of something at school.”

Orientation is also a great opportunity to meet future classmates. So when they return for move-in day in August, students can reconnect or at least recognize a few friendly faces.

Most orientations will offer sessions geared for specific majors. Academic officials will address expectations and requirements for particular areas of study. If the school has a band or other performing arts, your student may be able to try-out during orientation.

Class Schedule

One of the greatest benefits for students to attend orientation is the opportunity to schedule classes in advance. Rosamond agreed. “The most important thing I learned at orientation was how to schedule my classes.”

Counselors are on site to help students go through the registration process and answer any questions. Parents are usually not allowed into these sessions, so, if you’re like me and can’t help yourself, have a brief discussion about the following topics before they sign up for classes.

Think Before You Schedule!

1. Not an early bird? Don’t schedule classes at 8 a.m.

2. Don’t schedule classes 10 minutes apart if they are on opposite ends of the campus!

3. If your student wants to work part time, try to leave some blocks of time on the schedule for work and study time.

4. Look at required courses for their major. Are the classes offered during Fall and Spring semesters or only once a year? Take that into consideration.

5. Some courses require pre-requisite classes. Again, see if these are offered during both semesters.

 Dining, Entertainment & Getting Involved

Whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, at least one of your meals will be at a campus dining facility. This is a fun occasion for parents to see what their kids will be eating during the semester!

Evenings usually include informal dining and activities. This is a great way for parents and students to end the day and talk about what they each experienced. MSU holds their dinner in the stadium club of the Davis Wade Stadium. The evening festivities concluded with a movie shown on the scoreboard. Some schools have late night activities like carnival games and inflatable obstacle courses to get the kids to interact. Others may host informational fairs where students and parents can speak with representatives from a variety of university departments or student-led organizations and clubs to learn more about campus services, how to get involved in school, or how to volunteer within the community.  

Q&A – Expert Advice

The last day usually includes a Q&A session with representatives from specific departments like housing, dining, financial aid, and health services. Some schools include panels of current university parents who can address the concerns new parents may have about sending their kids to school for the first time.

Dorm Life

Many schools offer dorm tours, so you can get a sneak peek at what you might need to bring on move-in day. If tours are not available, check the school’s housing website or their Facebook page for virtual tours of dorm rooms. Some schools and students post videos on YouTube as well.

Get the Picture?

For parents, especially those out-of-state, orientation is a comforting way to form a mental picture of where your student will be. As much as you may want to text or call throughout the day, it's time to cut the cord – or at least loosen it a little! Orientation makes it easier to do so.

“I am so glad that I went to orientation,” said Kate’s mom, Mary Frances Rosamond. “It answered a lot of questions for me and made me a lot more comfortable about sending Kate there. I also had a lot of fun.”  

Kate felt the same way. “The sessions definitely made me feel more comfortable about entering college this year. I learned so much useful information about how to get ready for school.”

“Parents want their student to be happy,” said Storey. “When they see their kids excited, that gives them a good feeling. Parents should walk away feeling they are making a good investment, and that their children are going to be safe and happy.”

 

Photos: Mississippi State University, Matt Siegel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: college admissions, higher education, college, college visits, highered, Orientation

Finding Fulfillment through Service-Learning Courses

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 01:39 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

Around this time of year, high school graduates throw their graduation caps in the air, parents sob and wonder where the time has gone, and another generation begins their transition into adult life.  For those students whose post high school plans involve higher education, the time to register for classes is quickly approaching.  As students begin this new phase in their life and start thinking about their options for the first semester of college or university, service-learning should be a topic on their mind.  Including service-learning courses in your college experience enhances your knowledge in a subject, benefits the community, and bridges the gap between a university lecture hall and the world waiting outside.  

Students engage in service-learning.

Service-learning differs from plain volunteerism and community service. Unlike volunteerism, service-learning incorporates topics and concepts discussed in the classroom and applies them to real world problems.  Service-learning teaches through experiential learning.  Students are engaged by their teachers both in the course subject area and in the ways they are challenged to use this knowledge in the greater community.  Nazareth College, a place of higher education renowned for its commitment to including service in the education process, defines experiential learning as:

“Experiential learning is the process of making meaning from direct experience in a real world context. Experiential learning is a philosophy and methodology in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills and clarify values.  Facilitated and guided practice, reflection and evaluation are all essential components of this transformative method of learning.”

Service-learning is a unique educational tool and experience because it stimulates critical thinking and problem solving while also asking students to consider the consequences of their knowledge and their involvement in the community.  

Students who opt to take service-learning courses as part of their university experience are more fulfilled and engaged in class.  Students involved in service-learning are happier and more excited about their classes because they are involved in their learning and in critical thinking. Rather than just listening to lectures, students are engaged with the course material, their professors, classmates, and community.  Students are also allowed to explore and act upon their values and beliefs by making an impact in the community.  They develop critical thinking, problem solving, and research skills by using the knowledge they gain in the classroom to tackle real life issues.  By working with others and solving complex social issues, students develop leadership and interpersonal skills, which cannot be taught through lectures and tests.  By engaging students in a variety of settings, service-learning can build knowledge, character, and civic responsibility, which are useful both to the students enrolled in the course and the community they engage with.  

Communities and organizations that partner with higher education institutions to develop service-learning curriculum benefit from the budding minds and dedication of young people.  Service-learning has a positive place in the community by dealing with unmet needs.  According to Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education, the top issues addressed through university service programs are K-12 education, hunger, housing and homelessness. Through service-learning, students interact with diverse groups of people and other cultures in their community.  By confronting these issues and developing service projects in their classes, students become more aware of social issues and causes.  They consider the causes and symptoms of these issues and how their actions can alleviate different facets of a concern in the community.  In service-learning courses, students are not just asked to consider new ideas in textbooks and notes but also the different viewpoints and positions of people in their community.  This allows them to be more empathetic towards others and to consider the impact that their actions in their personal, scholarly, and professional lives have on different groups in the community. Both in their course work and their free time, students learn to ensure a better future for themselves and take initiative in satisfying unmet needs in their community.  

Service-learning courses can have a positive impact on a student’s future and career.  Service-learning is a way of gaining professional experience, fulfilling university credit requirements, and strengthening one’s resume with service work.  In many service-learning courses, students will be able to get out of the classroom and network with professionals in their field as an integral part of the coursework. Starting to build these networks while still in school can help students find internships and jobs in the future.  The experience gained from service-learning classes provides a head start in the professional field and a valuable set of stories through which can help to demonstrate innovative thinking and dedication in applications or interviews.  Apart from its impact on a person’s professional life, hopefully a service driven education will be a meaningful experience that compels students to continue giving back to the community in the future.  

Congratulations to this year’s high school graduates. If you’re a student interested in service-learning, be sure to consider talking to your university adviser about service-learning courses and opportunities at your school. There are many colleges and universities that are engaged in service learning, and more courses are added every day. Expand the impact of your service-learning by connecting with local organizations and other students interested in creating social change.



Image used under Creative Commons License via Tulane Public Relations

 

Topics: service learning

A Case for Volunteering with Family

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 03:49 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

As summer arrives and the school year comes to an end, there is time for families to spend more time together.  Many families look forward to going on vacation, going to the park, relaxing at the pool, or spending more time at home together. But what about spending more time volunteering in the community? This summer, as you put together plans for a fun and relaxing summer, be sure to set aside some time to volunteer as a family.  When families volunteer together, they increase the number of helping hands working to help others while also spending quality time together and strengthening their bond as a family.

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Volunteering as a family provides more help to the community, but it is also full of learning experiences and benefits for your family. When families volunteer together, they are able to gain greater insight into social issues.  Volunteering as a family often leads to more meaningful reflection after and during your volunteer project.  Around the dinner table or in the car ride home, families are more likely to engage in discussions that give perspective on the community issues they hope to tackle and how they can play a role in improving a situation.

Both children and adults can learn new skills from volunteering, or they can use the knowledge they already have and apply it to situations where they can make a positive impact.  By volunteering together, families also work on problem solving skills and communication.  This enables them to accomplish more as volunteers, but also helps families become more supportive as they transfer these conflict-resolution skills to their relationship as a family.  The benefits of volunteering as a family are important for all age groups, but the impact service can have on children also makes it a valuable parenting tool.

Children learn by doing, and volunteering helps reinforce positive behaviours and habits. Children who volunteer and observe their parents volunteering will be more likely to volunteer in the future.  In addition, volunteering has the capacity to enrich children’s learning and development. Volunteering helps improve self-esteem and social skills.  It shows children that they have the ability to make a positive impact. By learning to be comfortable working with others, children become more confident and start establishing leadership while still being humbled by the work they are doing.  They also learn responsibility, as they often will be assigned to work on a particular task during the course of a volunteer project. 

Children can also learn compassion through volunteering; in becoming more confident leaders and responsible individuals, they are compelled to treat others with kindness.  In addition to helping develop emotional health, volunteering can also increase physical health.  Furthermore, children who volunteer are also less likely to engage in at-risk behaviour as they grow up.  Volunteering as a family ensures that the next generation in a community will be both accountable and caring to others. 

When deciding how your family can help out in your community, it is important to find opportunities that interest everyone in the family. Volunteering should not feel like a chore; it should be something everyone enjoys.  To find volunteer opportunities in your community, consider the types of activities your family already enjoys and discuss as a family what important community issues you would like to tackle.  Different volunteer opportunities also serve to teach different lessons.  For example, if your family likes being active outdoors, outdoor clean-ups in parks, rivers, or beaches would be the best fit.  These types of service opportunities reinforce your family’s responsibility to the environment.  If your family is more interested in giving their time to people, working at food banks or homeless shelters and visiting nursing homes helps those in need in your community. 

Alternatively, if your family cannot agree on an opportunity, you can take turns supporting each other.  For example, if one family member wants to participate in a fundraiser, marathon, or sporting event, the other members of the family could find opportunities to help facilitate these events.  If some family members are more active and like to be the organizers and planers of a community project, the other family members can still be supportive by doing little things like stuffing envelopes, folding brochures, passing out flyers, or participating as volunteers on the day of the event.  However, what your family decides to do is not as important as the fact that you are doing it together.

When volunteering as a family, it is also important to have an open mind about your definition of family.  Family does not have to be confined to your immediate family nor to what others may consider to be the definition of family.  There’s no reason grandparents cannot volunteer with grandchildren or cousins cannot volunteer together.  In today’s world the meaning of family is becoming more open and complex than before.  In simple terms, family is the people you love and care about.  Volunteering serves to strengthen these relationships, and when we strengthen the relationships in our families, we reinforce the bonds at the root of our communities.

 

Image used through a Creative Commons License via vastateparksstaff

 

Topics: volunteering, community, opportunities

3 Social Issues Facing Millennials and Future Generations

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Wed, Jun 04, 2014 @ 11:58 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

The lives and futures of Millennials are shaped by technological and environmental factors that no other generation has faced before. The technological advances that brought computers, cell phones, and the Internet into the homes of everyday people have changed the way we live our lives and interact with others. Changes in population and production have increased the standard of living in some countries, while also increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots. These economic developments, along with advances in technology, have created a more globalized and interconnected world. 

Some of these changes have been positive and others negative, but our ability to meditate on our actions in the context of the future will shape how we expand positive changes and resolve the negative ones.   Though the future is uncertain, we can try to use our knowledge of the present to forecast the changes, advances, and difficulties of tomorrow. When we look into the future, we must consider how these changes and movements will shape the social issues that Millennials and future generations will have to confront.

Inequality: Inequality is a difficult problem that has existed throughout history and can manifest itself in a variety of settings. An article published in the Journal of Future Studies by Lorne Tepperman and James Curtis entitled “Social Problems of the Future” explains that “inequality is firmly entrenched in our society” because ideological, religious, cultural, and regional differences are a constant boundary resulting from generations of social rift. globe-peopleEconomic inequality is the most concerning form of inequality because, and as Tepperman and Curtis explain, in a globalized and industrialized world economy, the gap between the developed and developing world presents the greatest boundary to achievig social equality. Tepperman and Curtis predict that inequality is a virtually insoluble problem.

While it may be true that inequality is one of the most challenging and diverse issues of the future, the Millennial generation does possess some of the tools to tackle the problem of inequality. The Pew Research Center’s report “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” found that on the topic of inequality, “[t]he Millennial generation is somewhat more supportive of efforts to ensure equal rights than are members of older age groups.” It is predicted that Generation Z and future generations will be stronger advocates for equality. Given their technological prowess and purpose-driven work ethic, Millennials certainly have the tools, potential, and attitude to reduce inequality in our society.   

Environment: Threats to the safety of our environment are a growing problem. The rising global population and limits of earth’s ability to sustain such a large population is a growing concern for the future. While some regions are able to produce surpluses of food and necessities, others face scarcity and famine. The consequences of pollution and green house gas emissions from industrial activity and transpiration are a threat to the environment. nature-1364893805KIBAs Tepperman and Curtis explain, “Many scientists and theorists believe that unless changes are made today, environmental problems will become more severe and their consequences more intense in the future. Already, the world’s temperature has increased . . . [leading to] more frequent droughts and famines . . . higher rates of skin cancer, and more extreme weather.” Millennials are responsible for making immediate lifestyle changes that are friendly to the environment. Making these changes today will ensure that future generations will still have a planet they can appreciate and care for.

 

Technology: In recent history, technological advances have occurred at one of the fastest rates. From the development of the computer and the Internet to mapping of the human genome, these changes are weighted with both potential and responsibility. In response to recent advancements, Millennials will be faced with redefining ethical boundaries to consider issues such as genetic engineering in humans to internet privacy. Students_work_on_projectTechnology is also widening the amount of information available to people. In the future, it will be important for the next generation to harness technology to make knowledge more accessible, as knowledge is a source of empowerment and a way of reversing inequality. It will also be important to ensure the integrity of information and to make sure that the spread of ideas is not abused and saturated with unreliable or harmful information. In a world of social media, the realms of reality and identity are being challenged, as people are able to redefine themselves in the digital world. It will be important to use these social platforms as a way to increase communication and build healthier relationships rather than become a way of distorting reality and damaging human connection. Future generations will be handed a technology driven world, with the responsibility to use this technology to empower others and solve social issues.

Thinking about the future and trying to foresee its challenges is difficult and inexact task. However, the more we consider how our actions today will affect tomorrow, the more we are able to see that our willingness to implement change and social good will have a direct impact of solving foreseeable problems. Luckily, Millennials value volunteering and purpose-driven work. As one of the most civically engaged and technologically connected generations, Millennials have both the ability and responsibility to create a better world for the future. As Tepperman and Curtis write in their essay predicting issues of the future, “the goal of future studies is only partly to paint a picture of what life may be like for subsequent generations. Its more important task is to imagine a desirable alternative future for people to work towards, a future that is actively shaped by the decisions of people living today.”

Related:
Millennials Look for Meaningful Work

How Service & Service-Learning Spark Social Justice

 

 

Topics: youth impact, millennials, social justice

How Community Engagement and Public Service Work Together

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 07:58 AM

“Empowering NobleLeaders”- How Community Engagement and Public Service Work Together

We believe when high school and college curriculum incorporate service, community involvement, and social issues, students become more engaged in their learning as well as develop a strong foundation to be active, informed, and changemaking citizens in their communities both now and in the future. Learning about civic engagement and serving with community organizations helps expose students to the diversity in their community, the diverse problems that affect certain groups, and the interrelated barriers to solutions. This new knowledge becomes power for many students who find their passion, niche/personal cause, or career choice through service activities, and also through learning about (hopefully while simultaneously being motivated by) related social, cultural, and economic factors during class lectures and discussion.

A service-learning model is perfect for solidifying classroom material through community service and engagement. Though there are several ways to promote civic engagement among high school and college students, service-learning includes key components of reflection and demonstration so that students can process their community engagement experience and then effectively share with classmates what they learned. When students become informed, active, and passionate about their community at a young age, they are more likely to continue to be active citizens throughout their lives. Research shows that students involved in service-learning are more likely to be involved in local, state, and federal elections, in addition to working for and supporting the issues or government candidates they care about as young professionals, later as parents, and much later as retirees. Not only are students with a community service or service learning background more inclined to be continued active community members, they are also better equipped to serve and be a leader in their community through public or government office. 

Community Engagement and Public Service are sometimes used as synonyms, but they are not identical. Community or civic engagement can take several forms, but generally includes individual and collective actions designed to recognize and take on issues of public concern through political and non-political processes. Civic engagement is also at the root of democratic governance, for which citizens have the right and protection to define the public good, to establish the methods for promoting public good, and the opportunity to change institutions that do not align. Public service typically refers to being a leader in one’s community and running for public office or a government position. Public service candidates with experience in civic engagement or a history of community service will not only be more successful during an election, but also more effective at leading their jurisdiction and initiating policies that improve their quality of life.

Students engaged in service-learning.

Citizens who volunteer in the community, are involved with nonprofit organizations, or participate in local, state, or national elections know the value and necessity of community engagement— awareness of community issues and needs, using their skills and knowledge to make a difference, and voting for candidates and policies that address public concerns. The most effective way to engage more citizens in society is to engage people of all ages in their community through service, educate them on the social, cultural, economic, and political barriers to the public good, as well as provide them the tools and encouragement to be informed and active during elections. Paul Loeb, a social and political activist and author dedicated to student civic engagement, urges it is educators “responsibility to use our classrooms to explore the difficult issues of our time.” Our country and world needs students who are knowledgeable and passionate about community problems in addition to being committed to making a difference and finding solutions to complex challenges.


Campus Compact is a nonprofit higher education association that compiles resources for and supports all forms of civic engagement on college and university campuses. Campus Compact constantly gathers tools for educators, celebrates volunteers, and develops programs for higher education all for the ultimate goal of increasing civic engagement and community service across every institution. Their vision for the future includes the belief “that our country cannot afford to educate a generation that acquires knowledge without understanding how it can benefit society or influence democratic decision-making… We recognize that higher education must respond to community needs and democratic responsibilities with the intellectual and professional capacities demanded by today’s challenges.” NobleHour.com is also a great place for people to find opportunities for involvement and resources for empowerment. 

Community engagement is very important for all involved-- the community group or underserved persons, the student, partnering organizations, and the school or institution must be encouraged by college presidents, professors, school administrators, and teachers. Society needs an educated, motivated, socially conscious, and engaged public with a strong background in civic engagement ready to continually serve and work for the public good. Civic engagement as a student at a young age leads to a life of active citizenship and service.

 

Topics: service learning, community engagement, community service, higher education

How Service & Service-Learning Spark Social Justice

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan on Tue, May 20, 2014 @ 07:30 AM

"Empowering NobleLeaders": How Service & Service-Learning Spark Social Justice

As mentioned in our last “Empowering NobleLeaders” post where we highlighted this year’s 25th annual National Service Learning Conference as well as the Global Youth Service Day, the numbers of students, faculty, administrators, and community organizers who take volunteerism to the next level with service learning and active civic engagement are incredible, increasing, and very much needed in our society today. Not only are the opportunities to serve one’s community plentiful and diverse, so are the issues surrounding poverty, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, civil rights and immigration status in Students combat social problems through service. our local and global communities[i]. In our society, where it seems resources are increasingly scarce, the need for students to learn about and take action towards social and environmental problems is critical for the future of a just & peaceful society, and it contributes towards the ability for any person from any background to realize their potential in the society where they live and work.

More and more, teachers of a variety of grade levels, including K-12 and higher education, are employing service learning curriculum to guide students in addressing and reflecting on complex social issues while learning about course material and earning grades. Service learning cultivates social awareness, community engagement, problem-solving skills, and initiative for both learning and taking action. Service learning can provide the ultimate experiential education--- motivating students to explore the complexity of intertwined community needs, use their knowledge to do something about them, and continue to work for change even after a final grade is made. According to Cathryn Berger Kaye and Maureen Connolly, two innovative leaders in curriculum for service learning, in their article Social Justice and Service Learning,

“The issues we face as a planet have risen to a level that calls us all into action. We can all be engaged in learning about and addressing critical interrelated issues-- hunger, potable water, climate change, population migration, loss of habitat, illiteracy, gun violence, war-- while contributing to the betterment of ourselves and others.”[ii]

Service learning creates meaningful connections between people, helping us to feel invested in our community and emphatic for less fortunate people all over world. Through helping others, students gain valuable social and self awareness. When service is part of academic curriculum, there is great potential for significant civic engagement, enhanced active learning, and using classroom knowledge for a public purpose or community impact. Berger Kaye has found that service learning, when effectively engaged, leads to the development of students into change agents who are aware and passionate about lessening the inequities and injustices created by social structures in their communities[iii] – the foundation for the ability of service to spark social justice.

Students of all ages often complain that the material they learn in certain classes is not useful and thus focus only on short term memorization for the final exam. Service learning curriculum directly combats this occurrence through an initial survey of student interests, skills, and talents in addition to a social analysis of the community issues and needs being studied in relation to course material. If students feel connected to or personalize a community issue, they are more motivated to learn about and improve the situation. It is important for service learning educators to always consider the community needs first to create the most useful solutions as well as to emphasize for their students the importance of collective social justice and well-being.

Social justice is both a process and a goal. The process focuses on the understanding and change of social structures that create inequality. The goal is a global community with social responsibility toward and with others, where resources are equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.[iv]

Service learning is the key to educating students and preparing them to live purposeful, civically engaged, and socially responsible lives in the 21st century. General guidelines and more detailed service learning resources for both educators and students can be found in Don’t Just Count Your Hours, Make Your Hours Count. Not only is it in the students’ best interest to explore community engagement for both altruistic and practical reasons, today it is an educator's responsibility to provide what is needed for students to recognize, understand, and ultimately address the real life social issues learned in the classroom. The world needs innovative leaders to solve complex national and social issues and students deserve an education that will prepare them for changemaker roles. It is no longer enough to keep students engaged in class-- they must become engaged in their communities in ways that both alleviate suffering or inequality for others as well as bring meaning to the articles, books, and historical accounts read throughout the course. This takes special preparation and commitment, but truly makes the classroom experience more enjoyable for students and teachers alike. Service Learning for Social Change: A Curriculum Development Workbook is a wonderful tool for teachers exploring how to incorporate service learning created by the Service Learning Institute at California State University, Monterey Bay.

As Helen Keller said, “Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Today this critical pursuit must start with the education and service of students.

 

[i]
[i] Berger Kaye, Cathryn & Connolly, Maureen. “Social Justice and Service Learning.”CBK Associates, 2013.

[ii][ii] Berger Kaye, Cathryn & Connolly, Maureen. “Social Justice and Service Learning.”CBK Associates, 2013.

[iii][iii] Berger Kaye, Cathryn & Connolly, Maureen. “Social Justice and Service Learning.”CBK Associates, 2013.

[iv][iv]http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/site_files/Definitions%20Related%20to%20Service.pdf. Texas A&M Department of Student Activities, 2009.

 

Topics: service learning, volunteering, social justice

Why Students Should Track Service Hours

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Mon, May 19, 2014 @ 10:43 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

When you demonstrate how much time you put into something, you show how much of yourself you are willing to give for it.  Tracking hours is the simplest, most efficient, and most accessible way to demonstrate your community engaemenet and show what is important to you.  Hour tracking is a valuable tool for any volunteer because it allows you to keep a record of your progress and hard work.

Students can keep track of their volunteer hours for scholarships, awards, reflection and other purposes.

Particularly for students, hour tracking helps display your volunteerism for college admissions, scholarships, grants, and leadership opportunities.  For students with packed schedules, keeping track of these hours is the easiest way to prevent leaving out your accomplishments on applications.  Additionally, having more hours to show will help you stand out among other applicants, as well as help provide inspiration and substance for application essays. By taking a few minutes to enter each activity, you save yourself time and stress in the long run, as trying to remember and count all your volunteer work after several years is difficult.  Using tools like NobleHour saves you the trouble of having to go through school records or forms to verify your volunteer work.  Once you track your hours online, they are saved and you can share them at anytime.

"There are some hours that I didn’t log, but I did keep track of a lot of them because it made me feel happy for helping out and seeing how much I’ve contributed. I think [tracking hours] is pretty valuable because it allows you to see how much you’re doing, encourage you to work for more, and just be able to be organized about what you are doing.  It’s cool because you can see what you’ve contributed to what area.  For example, I’ve done a lot of service work at nursing homes and with the elderly, but not as much with the youth.  The hour tracking allows me to get a full grasp of that," said Tiffany, a senior at Grimsley High School. Tiffany enjoys volunteering and has tracked 293 hours in the past three years.

Altruistic volunteers may see tracking hours as a mere vanity.  However, this certainly is not the case. For civically engaged young people, service is done to the beating of their hearts not to the ticking of a stopwatch.  Fear that their natural compulsion to serve may be masked by numbers leads some students to feel that counting their service hours cheapens the work they have done.  However, tracking volunteer hours is not egotistic or selfish.  It is simply another way of showing your dedication and commitment to a particular cause or to volunteerism in general.  Sometimes seeing the amount of time put into a cause helps you reflect on why it was important to get involved, who benefited from the time you gave, what you learned from your hours of experience, and why you will continue to serve.  Showing how much time you have put into your community also shows your passion for service, and helps the organization you work with understand its impact.  

9675_72608_Gcvb7SgK5nOIN9K_gcs_impact_400x460_thumb"I am not keeping track of hours for a reward.  I just like to see what areas I have done a lot of work in and areas I could work to improve my community more.  I think tracking hours could definitely be something that people do for an award, but personally, I am able to not think about that.  I’ve received certificates thanking me for service, but hour tracking doesn’t affect meaning.  It allows you to visualize.  It’s truly not about how many hours you do, but how you use them and the difference you make.  I just see the hours tracking as a tool for organization," Tiffany said.

Though you may not feel that you will need to keep track of your hours, you never know down the road when you will need a record of the work you have done.  Even if you have already completed the required number of hours for school or awards, it helps to continue the practice of tracking hours because it shows how you have grown through helping your community and how you continue to pledge your time to others.  Having a holistic record of your volunteer hours attests to your leadership abilities, your investment in the community, and the value of your time and energy. 

Keeping records of volunteer hours allows students to manage their time and reflect on the lessons they have learned from volunteering.  It also keeps students accountable by safeguarding records and verification of the hours completed.  Start tracking your Noble Impact ™ today.

 

Topics: service learning, volunteering, community engagement, college admissions

Stay Sane During Exams! Tips for Students

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Mon, May 12, 2014 @ 01:30 PM

Exams are around the corner. Dreading having to buckle down and study? Here are some tips to keeping sane and doing your very best on those exams.

Of course, the best way to do well on an exam is to work all year or semester to master the material.  By being prepared for class, taking good notes, and regularly reviewing the material, you’ll ensure you won’t have to cram everything just before the exam.  Learning the material in increments is the best way to study.  Ideally, the time right before exams should be used to review everything you’ve learned and to go back over concepts you’ve had difficulty with or don’t remember as well.  It should not be the time to start learning the course material.

A little planning can help students get more from studying.

In the weeks that approach exam time, planning and organizing your time will reduce stress and maximize the time you have to study. Time management is the best way to avoid procrastination and all-night cramming.  Make a calendar of your exam schedule and map out when and where would be the best time to study for each exam.  If you prefer to study in a group, talk with your classmates ahead of time to best plan your study sessions around each other’s schedules.  If you want to have a quiet space to study, consider reserving a space at your library in advance.  Try to give yourself enough time to review for each exam, and consider which classes have been giving you the most trouble – you might want to have extra time to review for those.

Your time isn’t all you should organize. Make sure you have all the materials you need to make the best of your study time. Keeping your notes organized throughout the semester will save a lot of valuable study time.  If you plan on purchasing review books or practice materials, do so in advance as it becomes more difficult to find them during exam time.  Having review materials in advance will prompt you to study in advance, and sometimes getting these materials in the beginning of the course can help you prepare more throughout the semester. 

work

Trying to put together and remember months of information can be overwhelming. Breaking down the information into larger concepts ideas and then narrowing in on the details is the best way to pull together and synthesize everything you have learned.  When reviewing your notes, create an outline of the material. If you are a visual person, create graphic organizers, drawings or flow charts to reorganize your thoughts. Condense each chapter, or (if possible) the entire curriculum, onto one page by naming topics, concepts, or events.  Include key dates, formulas, and vocabulary on your study sheet.  Group common ideas together or color code your review sheet to help you remember the ideas.  Once you have outlined and reviewed all your notes, go back to your outline and star or highlight difficult or important concepts that you need to review again in detail.  This exercise helps you synthesize the information and makes it more accessible by laying it all out on one page.  If you really take your time with this, usually just reorganizing the information can help you to remember it. You may find you won’t have to review your entire outline, but only need to go back over those concepts you identified as needing extra attention. 

Another way to review information is to self-test. Look for practice questions in textbooks, review books, or homework problem sets. The Internet is overflowing with practice questions, sample exams, and online flashcards to test your knowledge.  You could also try writing questions for yourself as you read through your notes. Ask someone to quiz you on the information if you are studying with others. Making flashcards or using flashcard apps like Quizlet.com are other ways to test your knowledge.  Studying with groups can also be helpful.  This gives you the opportunity to ask for help from your peers.  In addition, often the best way to retain information is by teaching it to someone else. Recalling the information, organizing your thoughts, and verbalizing it is the best ways to memorize something. If you prefer to study alone, you should still try this exercise of retelling the information in your own words by grabbing a sibling, friend, or relative to pretend to be your student. Don’t be afraid to try talking to yourself while studying, though you may want to avoid being around other people for this one. 

There is no one definitive way to study, but hopefully some of these tips give you some ideas on how you can approach your next exam. You alone know how you learn best, so try out different ways of studying until you find what combination of review techniques works best for you. 

Exam time can be an overwhelming and stressful time. Creating schedules and managing your is one way to cut down stress.  Shut off phones and social media to help you focus.  There are several apps that you can add to turn off distractions on your computer or phone.  When you know your game plan ahead of time, studying becomes less overwhelming.  If you’re having difficulty with something, step back and focus on something else or take a break.  Exercise can help to reduce stress and clear your head.  Eating a healthy and well balanced diet will keep you energized and help you focus.  Listening to music or talking to someone about your stress can help you cope with stress. Most importantly, avoid comparing yourself to others.  Focus on what you need to do to do your best.

After all your hard work studying, the day of the exam will finally come, and hopefully you feel confident and prepared.  Familiarize yourself with the testing location beforehand if it is not at your school, and give yourself extra time to get there. The night before, check what materials you may need and have these ready ahead of time.  Set your alarm, or perhaps multiple. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast. Hydration is also important and can improve your testing performance.  

Trying to cram and review right before an exam will only cause you more anxiety and cause you to forget things.  Sometimes you have to accept that you have done everything you could to prepare yourself, and hopefully you will feel confident entering the exam.  Best of luck!

Topics: education, k12, highered, Exams, Finals

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