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Month: February 2013

learning to “mud” with habitat for humanity

Me and four of my students spent this Friday morning and early afternoon with the kind folks from Habitat for Humanity renovating a home in Park Forest, IL. It was just a small crew–five of us plus the Habitat folks Kevin, Rebecca, and Dean. It was really a good time. We swept, patched, painted, sanded, taped and “mudded” drywall, and removed the exterior siding. All in all, it was light work as the site was waiting on supplies before it could [singlepic=1190,300,300] Hangin’ with Habitatreally push on to the next phase of renovation, but we did the best we could and enjoyed one another’s company and the luxury of not having to rush the job.

Kevin–Habitat site supervisor–greeted us when we arrive, and he was great. He took his time and taught us everything we needed to know to do the tasks for the day. He didn’t assume any previous knowledge on our part and he was super patient and encouraging. Heck, I even learned how to “mud” drywall–a job that has always intimidated me to be honest. It really wasn’t that bad. (Some sanding is certainly in order, but I think I could have done worse.)

As the work day drew to a close, we took some group pictures, and talked for a bit more, lingering on even after the work was done, as we were still enjoying getting to know one another better. While dragging my butt out of bed early Friday morning (my usual day off) honestly wasn’t something I was looking forward to, I’m really glad I did it. I hope to meet more friends at the next building day with Habitat. Kevin and the rest of the folks tell me we’re welcome back anytime.

hackschooler logan laplante on happy

Thirteen-year-old Logan LaPlante has something to say about being happy. He’s a “hackschooler” (what some might call an unschooler or life learner) and he understands his education and his happiness is a state of mind. We watched this video with Aidan, who sometimes questions his decision to take a different path–to wear his hair long, to take his education from life, to be himself. He liked what Logan had to say here. I think it reminded him that there are many ways to find happy, and many ways not to. Sometimes we have to swim against the current, but it’s comforting just the same to know that there are others swimming with us. “He does what we do,” Aidan said. “That’s cool.”

Hit the play button below to hear Logan’s talk. It’ll be time well spend.

act out now goes live

For almost a year now, Chris and I have been talking about taking our appreciation for service-learning to the next level. Last spring, I plunged more deeply into this approach with the research writing class I was teaching and the results were remarkable. Students really responded and I found myself with a renewed energy toward teaching. That year my students hosted the first Act Out event on campus–a service-learning and volunteer fair where students showcased their service-learning work beside the local non-profit organizations they had worked with that semester. We had over 20 organizations present, three guest speakers, 75 participating students, and many people from the community attending, looking for ways to get involved. It was fantastic experience and a great success. In fact, I was nominated and won Master Teacher for this project (blush).

Given this success and the feeling of so much untapped potential, I decided (along with Chris–my beautiful wife) to kick this whole project up a notch, and so we launched Act Out Now (actoutnow.org). This is the online home to our growing project. From the site, folks can join upcoming service-learning events, find quality organizations to get involved with, and browse a growing set of learning resources. We’re really excited about where this might be heading. People are getting excited and getting involved, and that’s always a good thing. Check out the site now, and see what you might do.

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