Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. At Falk, we incorporate special service learning opportunities into curriculum across many grade levels and in many creative ways. We feel that this work is crucial in the education of a responsible, compassionate and well-grounded student population.
Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children (WPSBC) – Falk Collaboration
The overall purpose of this collaboration is to foster connections between Falk students and WPSBC students. Research has shown that opportunities for interactions between typically developing children and children with disabilities result in benefits for both groups of children.
This collaboration will allow WPSBC students to learn through peer modeling, develop positive social-emotional skills, and build cognitive and language skills. Falk students will build social skills, develop positive attitudes towards diversity, and learn about the diverse array of lifestyle challenges that are faced by people with disabilities and the role they can play in helping people with disabilities overcome those challenges.
6th Grade Program
The collaboration will consist of a series of experiences that will bring together 6th grade Falk students and WPSBC students of varying ages. It will reach across several curriculum areas at both WPSBC (e.g., Social Interaction, Recreation and Leisure, etc.) and Falk (e.g., Science, Language Arts, Physical Education, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, etc.). The year-long experience begins with the reading of “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio in Language Arts class where important themes are explored in a safe, familiar classroom setting. As the year progresses, students take part in several hands-on learning events to encourage a deeper connection to the life-experience of peers at WPSBC. The most powerful part of our collaborative project is our work with WPSBC buddies. We travel at least 4 times to WPSBC to meet, get to know and spend time with a buddy. This one-on-one time has become the capstone experience of the program and one in which our students at Falk treasure.
7th Grade Program
Falk students who volunteer and fulfill the necessary requirements spend approximately 4 full days at WPSBC over the course of the year (one day in October, November, February and March) embedded in a classroom and be a classroom helper for the day. Additionally, Falk students document their experience through multi-media storytelling and reflection projects created during a twice monthly meeting during lunch/recess time.