Guest article: Real-world learning for Summer Academy students | September 18, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Schools - September 18, 2013

Guest article: Real-world learning for Summer Academy students

Submitted by Joel Kriner of Santa Rosa, a charter school teacher who focuses on real-world and project learning.

I taught this summer at the Summer Academy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, which held classes in Menlo Park, Redwood City and Palo Alto. My goal was to provide real-world learning opportunities for my fifth- through eighth-grade students. The best way to do this was to reach out to the community around us in hopes of extending our classroom.

The students' final summer project was to write a one-page document about a topic of their choice. Students wrote recipes, play scripts, letters, songs, news articles and more.

Their page needed to be edited and written in proper format. From there, students followed through on the "go public" portion of their project by bringing their page to life.

Many times students work hard on projects but they do not have the opportunity to share their efforts and ideas outside the classroom. The Summer Academy students enjoyed sharing their projects with the public. They cooked and shared their recipes, performed their play scripts, sent letters and emails to companies, produced and recorded songs, and sent news articles to local media outlets.

From the experience, students understand how they can be part of the community, that their opinions matter, and that their community will embrace them positively.

Here is a small glimpse into the mind of one of my students, a sixth-grader, who writes on a topic she feels passionate about.

'Air Pollution' by Yaritza

Air pollution is a big problem, with effects that include global warming and lung cancer.

Many industrialized countries have tried to reduce sulfur dioxide, smog, and smoke to improve people's health, but recent studies indicate that lower sulfur dioxide levels can make global warming worse. Sulfur dioxide from volcanoes can cool the planet by blocking the sunlight.

Otherwise, governments are taking measures to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. One way is through the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement between countries to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions. Another way is to tax carbon emissions or raise taxes on gasoline, and then people and companies will have more incentives to conserve gas and pollute less.

We can reduce air pollution by following these tips:

• Reduce your food miles by growing your own garden and not buying many prepacked food.

• Use paints and cleaning products that give out less smog-producing particles.

• When you refuel your car, be careful not to spill fuel and close your gas cap tightly.

• Take advantage of natural energy.

• Visit for more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.

• Email Joel Kriner at for more information on project-based learning.


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