Service Learning at THES: Kids learn by doing, and the community benefits.
This academic year Travis Heights Elementary School (THES) incorporated a number of new initiates to the campus, all of which support the school’s motto: Learn, Serve and Lead.
One of those initiatives, Service Learning, offers an exciting vehicle for students to connect in meaningful ways to their neighborhood and larger community. Service Learning is an educational approach that takes learning and uses it for a public purpose. THES introduced Service Learning last year as a pilot study for two grade levels, and after review and refinement, adopted the program across all grade levels this year.
THES Service Learning Projects for 2013/2014
- Kindergarten is bringing together the school community through food. We displayed students’ family recipes at the Cultural Festival and are now compiling these for recipe booklets to sell at a small cost and donate the money to the soup kitchen at Caritas of Austin. Representatives from Caritas will discuss with students about how food brings the community together in their soup kitchen, and the importance of giving food to those in need.
- 1st Grade is working on understanding what is involved in being responsible pet owners. Austin Pets Alive is helping connect these students with their research and providing opportunities for out-of-school learning. The project will culminate in an education campaign that the 1st graders create and take school-wide to help their fellow students enter pet ownership responsibly.
- 2nd Grade is working on water conservation, an issue that will only become more relevant. Our school’s location on Blunn Creek offers a laboratory in our backyard.
- 3rd Grade is focusing on financial literacy, with students learning about micro loans, interest and how to make good financial decisions. This activity involves math, strategy and development of compassion. This project is using market days to help students understand supply, demand and the value of philanthropy as they decide whether and how to donate some of their earnings.
- 4th Grade is working to think about the world from the vantage point of a person with special needs. They are reading a remarkable book, Wonder, and are working on how to create a reciprocal relationship with another school that serves special needs students.
- 5th Grade is studying bullying and developing strategies based on research to reduce bullying.