What's Happening in Character?

Cathy Berger Kaye

Recent Posts

What Inspires You To Be An Educator?

Posted by Cathy Berger Kaye on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 @ 09:10 AM

Being an educator caught me by surprise. I had a different route in mind when young, even though my older sisters were both teachers and I admired their work. During college, while an apprentice at a summer theatre company in Western Massachusetts, I was assigned to (or “gifted” with) developing a day long theater experience for kids coming out from Boston. Under a canopy of trees with a lively bunch of tweens, suddenly I found myself in a role I had not expected, and absolutely loved.

Today my inspiration comes from a vision of young people engaged in a world that extends beyond classroom walls. Of course I admire what occurs inside schools and universities. However, not all environments operate equally.

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Topics: National Forum

Caring for the Planet: Extending Beyond Walls!

Posted by Cathy Berger Kaye on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 @ 11:03 AM

By Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A.

Perhaps at one time we considered school a bubble isolated from the world. Not anymore.

Across the globe, school administrators, teachers, and students aim to connect what they are studying to the array of societal issues and concerns they see or read about every day. More and more as educators, we aim to dissolve this separation and recognize school is the real world for youth. And what’s more, they love to look out the windows! And rather than just “looking”, we can create learning that allows for permeable walls. This way we create authentic connections between the academic knowledge, transferable skills and dispositions developing and strengthening in our classrooms with the genuine learning that is available by connecting with community. Once learning connections are made and students become more cognizant of community assets and needs, like all of us, children and teens want to take action.  

What could this look like? You probably know. This concept of service learning emerged, as we know it today, in the  mid-1980s to provide a viable framework for applying what occurs in math, science, humanities, arts, physical education, and social studies (to name a few subjects), toward alleviating the problems we see in our neighborhoods and communities. Who would have suspected this to become an international phenomenon occurring in K-12 schools and universities around the world!

Your school may already have the beginnings of service learning or a more advanced program. Or you may have a community service program operating on the fringes of the classroom and you recognize that service learning embedded within an academic study has a myriad of benefits including to:

  • Improve the eagerness of students to be self-motivated to extend their learning
  • Stimulate curiosity and question-asking that leads to deeper understanding
  • Engage every student in a way that both differentiates and encourages students to appreciate the abilities of their peers
  • Create multi-disciplinary pathways for connecting curriculum
  • Heighten social and emotional development as students become more sensitized to the lives and stories of others
  • Bring learning to life!

Service Learning Snapshots

Weaver Academy (Greensboro, North Carolina)

How do power tools relate to reading? At Weaver Academy’s high school construction class students are building 138 tiny houses, complete with shingles, to promote literacy.

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Topics: Caring Classrooms,, Caring Community, environmental action

Words into Action: Service Learning as a Teaching Strategy

Posted by Cathy Berger Kaye on Tue, Oct 9, 2012 @ 10:10 AM

What is Service Learning?

Simply put, service learning occurs in classrooms as students connect academics—skills and content—with authenticated community needs. Students grow a garden in science class that provides produce for a food bank or orphanage. While studying about World War II, students interview veterans of a past or current war to gain a deeper understanding of the particularities that affect men and women who serve, and use these stories to create a publication or performance to share what they learned with others. Students might take on an environmental issue, like the preponderance of single-use plastic water bottles that fill up dumpsters everywhere. They can use their persuasive writing abilities to develop a convincing marketing campaign for reusable water bottles and create PSAs to broadcast on local radio. And after interviewing the head of a local school with minimum resources, students have connected classroom studies to creating teaching resources that improve educational opportunities in their own backyard.

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Topics: Service learning, Forum Speakers, character education in curriculum, National Forum