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Learn & Serve Grants

Learn and Serve Leaders' Institute
March 5, 2004

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On March 5th we held the second of three meetings focused on helping us better understand and use Learn and Serve grants to make service learning an integral part of schools' curricular choices and instructional practices.

We kicked off the day by discussing the power of democratic learning communities to help people in schools incorporate service learning into their day-to-day operations. We read School-wide Professional Community by Fred M. Newmann and Building Professional Community in Schools by Sharon Kruse, Karen Seashore Louis, and Anthony Bryk, and then each school team completed a survey, based on these articles, to help them better understand their school's current level of community.

In order for a democratic learning community to be effective in improving student learning its efforts must be guided by a vision of what's to be accomplished. Keeping that in mind, we discussed mission statements. School teams examined their school's mission statement for support of democratic and service learning. We also discussed the challenges of bringing mission statements to life.

At our first meeting, people were asked to read a chapter in Carl Glickman's book Revolutionizing America's Schools entitled Powerful Learning. And they did! Thank you! This chapter provides a detailed definition and rationale for democratic learning. People in small groups, following a discussion protocol called The Final Word, reflected together on what each member of the group thought were the most compelling ideas put forward in the article.

We wrapped up the day with a presentation from Marianna Carini and Jennifer Dionne from Norton Elementary, a charter member of the League of Professional Schools. They shared their school's efforts with implementing democratic and service learning.

Thanks for all your hard work!