Center for Academic Service - Learning

University of Wisconsin-Superior

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Center for Academic Service - Learning

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Students join the movement to end bullying at local middle school

Posted on Nov 6, 2012
click to enlarge
Two Superior Middle School students proudly show off the new books they want to read

Two Superior Middle School students proudly show off the new books they want to read

Eleven University of Wisconsin-Superior students are acquiring real-world experience to educate and prevent bullying at the Superior Middle School Library.  Professor Kirsten Lindquist, from the Writing and Library Science Department, partnered this Academic Service-Learning project with the Superior Middle School for her Library Science 310: Young Adult Literature course. 

According to recent statistics on bullying, at least 5.7 million children are directly involved in bullying every year - either as bullies or as victims.

UW-Superior students are asked to identify and discuss issues and trends relevant to young adults and young adult literature including: diversity, gender, disabilities, censorship, and resistant readers.  Students will be completing five projects with the middle school students.  Thus far, the UW-Superior students have interviewed the middle schoolers on their reading habits, gave a presentation on bullying, and presented 'booktalks.'  They will next lead a discussion on a book that focuses on bullying and then create a book trailer.

Every half an hour, 1 child attempts suicide as a result of being bullied, which
means that the number of children attempting suicide as a result of being
bullied is 19,000 children every year.

Casja Soul, a business major from Phillips, WI, described how this academic service-learning experience will give her skills to help her future career; it opened her eyes to which books might be hits and which might not be as successful when planning to purchase books for a library.  It has allowed her to better understand the middle schoolers' thought processes.

The academic service-learning project will help the UW-Superior students to use course materials in a realistic manner; Lindquist described how this will build a broader appreciation of young adult literature and heighten their sense of civic responsibility.  While getting this real world experience, UW-Superior students can also use the assignments and projects Lindquist developed with their future classrooms and libraries. 

Around 75% of American children are victims of various forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying at some point during schooling.

Krysti Gall, an elementary education major from Duluth, MN, said that while she can learn basic facts and theories in other classes, the real-world experience of going into a classroom and teaching young children has long-term benefits for her career.  Gall described how through her experience with the Superior Middle School Library, her eyes were opened to the differing opinions young kids can have towards learning.  This knowledge is applicable for her future because, as an aspiring teacher, she knows she will have to communicate on her student's levels.  Additionally, she felt it is easier to see and understand why kids read books and what they like; this knowledge is then applied to her UW-Superior assignments.

1 out of 4 teens are bullied. 

"I was bullied when I was younger," said Gall, "bullying is not fair to kids.  They cannot control what they look like or what they are interested in."  People do not realize the effect they can have on others; it can lead to suicide,Gall described.  While giving presentations on bullying, Gall said, the young children were able to open up and share about their experiences with bullying.

Soul revealed that she didn't realize she was bullied when she was younger till she participated in this course. This past connection allows her to connect to the middle schoolers and reflect on her future career aspirations at a library.

"Today, bullying is a big problem in schools. Young adult literature helps kids open up about their own experiences through reading books, talking and relating to characters, and realizing they are not the only ones," said Lindquist.  She wants to help the middle school students engage in meaningful dialogue about bullying through young adult literature.  Bullying, said Lindquist, is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed and stopped before it is too late for kids. 

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Academic Service-Learning is an innovative teaching and learning strategy that provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge and learn new skills by matching academic goals to the needs of community organizations. Students apply concepts and skills they learn in the classroom and give that knowledge back to the community. In return, they gain practical experience while serving others.

News Contact: Katelyn Baumann | kbauman3{atuws}
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