Service Reflection

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

—Activist saying, attributed to Lilla Watson


ED253 includes mandatory service to the greater Cleveland community.  Throughout the semester, you will engage in weekly educational service.  The goal for the service learning experience is to synthesize your service experiences with our studies of foundational issues in the field of education. ED253 service placements are coordinated through the Center for Service and Social Action (CSSA). This semester, we have a very special opportunity to collaborate as a class with Ms. Toni DeSanto and her 8th students at St. Francis School in a digital storytelling project.

Zoom Meeting Days & Times at St. Francis School (Fall 2020)

Mondays 2:00-3:15pm and Wednesdays 2:00-3:15. Ten (10) students are to sign up for each day.

Zoom Links

8th grade video project Mondays 2-3pm –
8th grade video project Wednesdays 2-3pm-

Registration Link: ED 253:

The Digital Storytelling Project

We will be divided into digital storytelling circles, small groups comprised of a few students from our class and a few students from Ms. DeSanto’s class. In these learning circles, we will work towards building trusting relationships as we get to know each other through the production of short digital stories ranging from 2 to 5 minutes in length. Everyone involved will have the opportunity to produce digital stories about themselves and about matters that concern them and their community at this particular time in history.

During our regularly scheduled ED253 class, we will have opportunities every week to discuss, plan and reflect on this collaborative digital storytelling project. As well, once a week, as a class, we will meet online with Ms. Toni DeSanto and her 8th students at St. Francis School. And together, we will produce a range of digital stories.


As part of our digital storytelling project, your digital stories will be posted to your ED253 WebLog. In addition to these digital stories, you will be asked to keep a CSSA reflective journal. Regularly, we will discuss your reflections in class.


As we will explore throughout the semester, a powerful way to advance student learning is through culturally relevant pedagogy. For students who primarily identify with the dominant European white, heteronormative, middle class culture, this literally can go without saying. For the most part, their educational experiences are culturally relevant. That is to say, there is a goodness of fit between the world views and lived experiences of these students, the curriculum and classroom pedagogy.

For everybody else, culturally relevant pedagogy needs to be implemented with intentionality. A culturally relevant pedagogy begins with a teacher’s empathy and curiosity to understand the lived experiences, interests and concerns of their students. As a teacher educator, I know that lesson planning is built on interrelationships between the curriculum and pedagogy and that a central aspect of pedagogy is deep knowledge of our students. This knowledge is developmental and psychological but of equal significance are contextual matters associated with identity, family, community and culture.

The cultures of our students are complex and multifaceted and not limited to matters of race, class, ability and gender identity. Youth culture is an important aspect of the identities of our students and this can range from community and church affiliations to hanging around and geeking out. Including facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more, social media factor significantly in the cultural experiences of our youth, as well.

This knowledge of our students is essential for building relationships with them and for advancing their learning. Folding this knowledge into lesson planning and curriculum development is crucial for advancing the learning of our students; the curriculum needs to be relevant and meaningful for and connect deeply to the lived experiences of our students. This is as true for the teaching of mathematics as it is for language arts and social studies.

One pedagogical approach for learning about our students in a culturally relevant way is through digital storytelling, an approach to multimodal communications and literacy development. Digital storytelling, in this context, involves students using any manner of digital media to tell brief stories about themselves and what matters to them. 

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