100th Day Service Learning Project



Graeme Anning, Kindergarten Teacher, Yangon International School, Myanmar


While many kindergarten classrooms were awaiting Punxsutawney Phil’s February 2 “long winter” prediction, kindergarteners at Yangon International School (YIS) were busy counting, adding, grouping, and sorting for their 100th Day service learning project.

Service learning is an endeavor that many international schools are including in their strategic plans to connect learning and outomes with community needs. As distinguished from community service, which aims to serve the community in a meaningful way, service learning is an instructional strategy that aims to benefit the community while providing an enriching learning experience for students.

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Daw Khemacari accepts cooking oil
from the kindergarteners.

In the kindergarten classrooms at the YIS lower elementary campus (endearingly called the 123 Campus for its street address), teachers sourced ideas from students about how they would like to help the community. Three Pagodas Road, where the campus is located, is home to three monasteries and Sasana Gone Yee, a Buddhist-run orphanage and nunnery. The kindergarteners indicated that they wanted to do something to benefit the children at the neighboring orphanage.

A student-led discussion ensued, informed by employing what students understood of wants and needs, and suggestions of educational materials, toys, and clothes were voiced. As the one-hundredth day of school was approaching— and, fittingly, there are about a hundred orphans at the neighboring converted residence—we decided on the “100th Day” as our service learning moniker.

It was determined that students would bring in one hundred pens, one hundred pencils, and one hundred notebooks, as well as erasers, rulers, and whiteboard markers to the orphanage in celebration of the one hundredth day of school. While students harbor the best of intentions, it is imperative to communicate with the receiver of the service to ensure that it aligns with their needs. To that end, we arranged a meeting with the head nun.

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Rice, cooking oil, notebooks,
pens, pencils, and other class materials were among
the donations for the children at Sasana Gone Yee.

A teacher and a local assistant sat down with Daw Khemacari at the orphanage to share and coordinate plans to ensure the students would be contributing meaningfully. The matriarch first expressed thanks to the kindergarteners for thinking of the orphans’ needs. She noted that while the pens, pencils, and other teaching resources would be welcomed, the orphanage also needed rice and oil.

“We go through a big [fifty-kilo] bag of rice in two days,” the revered elder informed our contingent.

 

Back at the 123 Campus students agreed that adding rice and oil to their list of donations was the right thing to do. Teachers in the kindergarten section know that math standards call for students to be able to determine addends of ten, skip count by tens, and count by ones to one hundred. This was a perfect opportunity to apply those skills in a real world undertaking. For English Language Arts, students had an opportunity to share their new learning in how-to books, the subject of their information writing unit.

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Student hear kind words and partake
in a Myanmar response chant led by the head nun, Daw Khemacari.

The lower elementary guidance teacher, librarian, and music teacher also took part to enrich the service learning experience. Kindergarteners explored responsibility in the community, had books pulled from the library shelves about responsibility and citizenship, and practiced “It’s a Small World After All.”

Throughout the lead-up to the one-hundredth day, teachers fueled discussions about cooperation, citizenship, and community. Though students brought in bags of learning material, parents were requested to bring bags of rice on the hundredth day because the rice could attract pests.

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Kindergarten students sing “It’s a Small World After All”
to their hosts at the Sasana Gone Yee Orphanage and Nunnery.

On the special day, students were engaged in counting, grouping, sorting, and employing addends of ten.

“We have one hundred pencils and one hundred erasers,” said Julian, a Burmese kindergartener whose donation reflected the generosity for which Myanmar is known. “There are only eight erasers in this pile. How many more do we need to make ten?” asked one six-year-old. “Two,” replied another. After comparing, skip-counting, and adding the collected materials, it was time to pack them away and trek down Three Pagodas Road to the local orphanage.

The students were greeted by a few dozen orphans and Ms. Khemacari. She spoke kind words to them and led them in an echo response chant. The students of this mostly Buddhist country were somewhat familiar with the exchange as donations and charity are interwoven in the cultural fabric of Myanmar. Next, the kindergarteners sang their song, “It’s a Small World After All,” for their hosts. In turn, the orphans serenaded their guests with a Myanmar chorale. All children present were delighted to be acquainted.

Upon reflection, students said they liked helping their new friends and talked about plans that included offering assistance to others in the community. While debriefing, one student said that when she’s an engineer like her father, she would like to build a new house for the orphanage.


Published in ISS NewsLinks: Volume XXXII Number 3


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