Compass School students apply learning to real-world problems

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Westminster — "When are we going to use this stuff?" kids often ask of teachers in school. At Compass School, students get to apply their learning to real-world needs during Community Service Winter Term, occurring the last week in February.

During Winter Term, students work in teams to apply their academic learning to help address real community needs. Compass' Community Service Winter Term is organized around requests for assistance from community organizations in the region. As students address these real-world needs, they develop and extend 21st Century skills of problem solving, adaptability, and the ability to work with others to make a real difference in the community.

This year's projects include creating activities for KidsPlayce in Brattleboro, improving public relations materials for Parks Place in Bellows Falls, designing a Waldorf inspired pre-school in Chesterfield, storytelling in local elementary schools, research for the Tarrant Institute on Innovative Education on outside classroom learning in Vermont related to Act 77, planning for the Global Connections trip to Peru and the upcoming Fiesta fundraiser, and investigating game-based learning for Compass.

Working in small groups with a teacher-coach, students meet with the community partner sponsoring the project, clarify expectations, and organize themselves to help address the community need.

As Director Rick Gordon explains, "This work asks students to take knowledge and skills developed in their classes and other life experience and apply it to real-world problems. Transfer of academic learning to new situations is one of the elusive goals in education. It's incredible to see students draw on all sorts of skills and learning to serve real community needs."

Jaya Solin, a 12th grade student sums of the value of the week, "Winter Term creates an environment where we collaborate with our peers to provide solutions to real world problems."


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