Second Semester Service Learning

A new group of English IV students have begun work on service learning this semester. With that, new service organizations are being featured, new proposals have been written, and now, new blogs are being created by students. Last semester, students focused primarily on mentoring children and recycling. This semester, many students are focusing on conservation and protection of natural resources, but mentoring is still a popular topic. The great things is that students are focusing on service they care about and find interesting.

Here are the links to a new crop of English IV service learning blogs. Check them out and give these students some feedback.

First Semester Reflections Four Weeks into Second Semester?

So I’m a little late with this post. To say that we’re off to the races in second semester is an understatement. This semester is flying by with speed greater than any other I’ve experienced, which is why this reflection on first semester is just hitting the blogosphere.

Here goes…

Last semester, I taught two sections of English IV and two sections of Advanced Grammar and Composition. Throughout the semester, as is evident in these blog posts, I ask students for their feedback, but at the end of each semester, I ask students for a detailed report of what they liked, didn’t like, would throw away completely, and what they would tell future students and family members about me. Here’s a copy of the end of semester reflection students fill out:

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Overall, the feedback I received from students was positive, but I also like to focus on things students think I could or should improve so that I can be even better for my next round of students (Luckily, I read all of these before the semester started; otherwise, I’d really be slack, huh?). I got things like, “no way to improve,” which is nice, but this doesn’t really help me be a better teacher even though it’s really nice for my ego. Other students asked me to stop making them blog (No way that’s happening, buddy!), but comments like “make more time for reading” and “give a little more class time to complete assignments” give me something to work with for future classes. While my favorite comment for things I could improve was “pfft, it’s perfect already,” (Yeah, somebody really said that) I really do need to consider student needs and wants. Some students don’t have access to a computer, so sure, I need to find a way to give that extra time requested. And you want more time to read in class? I can make that happen too! I want you to read more in class and out of class and love it, so I’ll do my best to make those things happen.

I learned that students like “my walls that teach” and would love even more of “those cheat sheets you hang on the wall” because they help us learn better. I learned they want even more opportunities to be creative, and I learned that they want to help teach the class (Why not?) I learned that students think I’m “straightforward,” “pretty cool,” and “honest.” I learned I “like to have fun,” but I’m “serious when the time comes.” I learned I’m nice, but I “make you work.” And guess what? I can live with all of that.

When I asked students what the most important thing they learned this semester, I was also satisfied with their responses. You can know you’ve done an honest day’s work when your students say:

“Put all my effort into everything I do.”

“Turn in everything on time.”

“Change the community.”

“The importance of punctuation and grammar.”

“Service learning is good.”

“Do your work! If not, you will fail!”

“Be specific in your writing.”

So I can live with that, and all the other feedback because I will take those things to heart. And this semester, I’ll try harder to be all those things and better for you guys! 🙂

Service Learning


This semester is quickly coming to a close, and our service learning projects are coming to an end. Two groups will still be accepting donations for their care packages until the end of the week, so if you’re reading this, and you are in the area, our students would be grateful for any toiletry items that you would be willing to donate. They will divide those items and send them to their respective organizations on Friday.

Several students saw their letters to the editor published in The Sun News which provides a real-world audience for writing and validation for the work they’ve done. A couple of these students even received feedback from members of the community, further showing them the impact their work can have on others. One reader called our principal and asked her to pass along the message that he was inspired to volunteer because of one student’s passion as demonstrated in her letter to the editor. That letter is provided above in print.

Mentoring Children In Horry County

Issues with Horry County Recycling

Consider Mentoring in Horry County

Those students who did not choose to write a letter to the editor created public service announcements for their issues, and most found Animoto to be a quick and easy way to publish their PSAs and link them to their blogs. You can see one student’s promotion for awareness of PTSD here.

Perhaps most rewarding, some students are continuing to volunteer with the organizations they selected even though they are no longer being “graded” on their projects. The list of student blogs is provided again below if you’d like to view their progress and what they’ve accomplished with service learning. They like feedback, so good or bad, give them a shout out so they know someone’s paying attention (besides me)…



Students Create Grammar Tutorials

Students in my Advanced Grammar and Composition classes paired up to teach grammar concepts they felt they knew particularly well. This assignment took the place of their last test grade as they demonstrated how they would teach their favorite concept to someone else. The videos shown below were produced using a variety of software and iPad apps. Some students used the ShowMe app for iPad, others used a combination of Microsoft PowerPoint and PhotoStory but uploaded and shared the video using YouTube. Still other students used Prezi and Screencast-o-matic. Regardless of the tools used, all demonstrate their ability to use technology to create and teach a grammar concept to someone else.

None of these students had professional development in how to implement software in the classroom. They just played until they found the tools that worked best for them. I played technology troubleshooter and grammar editor when needed. With time to play and create, students were able to effectively demonstrate what they knew and hopefully teach someone else in the process.