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Sharing the language of learning: welcoming newcomers to the community can provide both a community service opportunity and a learning experience for students.

Ever felt out of place? Were you careful not to look foolish? Could you just "fit in" without losing your identity?

Educating newcomers to help themselves provides the knowledge and security they will need to function better in the community, but it can also be a learning experience for your students.

Community High School in West Chicago, Illinois, has developed an integrated curriculum combining Spanish native speaking (SNS) students and child development and clothing classes to teach about how to access and use the public library.

To ease the fear of the target group, the program focuses on the children--kindergarten through third grade. The children and their parents are invited to a special event where SNS students perform a puppet show that they have created. The puppet show explains what the library has to offer and describes the process of using the facility. SNS and child development students read books and teach about the different types and uses of books.

At one of the events, Cable Com, the local cable company, came by to record the program and the process. After editing the program, the company began televising the event in Spanish. This program is now replayed throughout the year to advise newcomers to the community how to use the library. The video is also given to local school districts for instructional purposes.

To further help these newcomers understand the library system, the clothing classes make book bags that are used to show children how to care for books that are borrowed. It is important that the parents and children understand that the books are being loaned and not given to them. Prior to the event, parents are advised to bring proof of residency. That way they can immediately get a library card and put it to use.

Mentor teams are formed between the high school students and a "target family." After the initial contact is made, the mentor team plans dates and times for future meetings. The mentoring portion of the program promotes continued success for the use of the library as well as continued education.

It is important to note that this is service-learning and not simply volunteerism. It does more than just make students "feel good about helping others," because the students are providing service to the community through curriculum goals. Educators collaborate to provide an opportunity for students to use their knowledge and help to educate others in the process.

This project was funded by the State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning Grant, which is administered by Youth Service America ( and funded by State Farm.

Patti R. Kozlowski is a family and consumer science instructor at Community High School District 94 in West Chicago, Illinois. She is happy to share video copies of the event for a fee and postage. She can be reached at Copies of the event are available for lee and postage.
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Title Annotation:The Changing Face of CTE
Author:Kozlowski, Patti R.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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