Forming networks key to CBSL project success


A successful Community-based Service Learning project (CBSL) forms networks among schools, community members, and other teachers to give students positive and educational experiences, agreed teachers at this year’s CLC Teacher Institute.

The conference, held on Jan. 21 and 22, brought together teachers from across the province to share ideas and build stronger connections for their own CBSL projects.

Melissa Laroque, a grade five teacher at the Gault Institute in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, said hearing about successful projects from other schools encouraged the creative use of resources specific to a region, especially in communities with limited finances.

“We come from small areas and you hear about other schools like, ‘Oh, they have salmon,’” she said, referring to a salmon-spawning project at Gaspé Elementary in Gaspé, QC. “You really have to work with what you have.”

During a brainstorming session on enhancing CBSL projects, white poster paper decorated with rainbow-coloured Post-it notes and felt markers outlined the aspects that worked and others that needed improvement.

Actively involving students and building self-esteem were among the list of priorities echoed by many educators.

“You have to be passionate,” said one teacher. “But the fact is, students need to be passionate, too”.

You can view photos from the CLC Teacher Institute by clicking here.

Service Learning at Gaspé Elementary

What a trip to Gaspé! I won’t lie, one of the best parts of my job is the chance to visit schools across our CLC network.

Upon arriving at Gaspé elementary, I met Jan and Pam Patterson (no relation) in the staff room along with many new and familiar faces. I heard about the great projects taking place and being planned.

The day before I arrived, students participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. I sat in on the grade 6 class and saw the graphs they created in math class showing the different types of garbage they had cleared.

Once they analyze the graphs with the grade 5 class, the moment will be ripe to develop solutions that address the problem of domestic and fishing industry waste washingup on the local beaches.  That is service learning.

In the elementary cycle 3 ERC class, the students read the book Beatrice’s Goat. Afterwards, students discussed the meaning of the book and were inspired by the story of how a donation of a goat to a family can have a positive, long term economic benefit for children, including increased access to education.  Next steps for the ERC class included researching charities like Heifer International to choose the best organization to receive a donation.

I have a suspicion the ease with which the children were moved to action is due to a project from last year, where a former student teacher connected students with a class in Malawi. A relationship was forged between the two classes, through an exchange of letters and a skype call.  Gaspe students raised money for books, collecting enough in fact to build a physical library.  That seems like a whole story in itself.  Any reporters or authors out there?

I really could go on…and I will.  A few days later I visited Belle Anse Elementary and had another extraordinary visit.  Click here to hear (homonym) the story of the harvest meal and official opening of the school library, thanks to the Indigo-Love of Reading Foundation.