VASCD Journal

Fall 2016

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Page 23 of 78

Rx for Deeper Learning: Reciprocal Experiences for Schools and Community Partners Meghan F. Raftery Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, Virginia Reciprocal Experiences (Rxs) are mutually-beneficial partnerships between schools and community organizations that seek to solve real-world problems, are connected to existing curriculum, and are directly related to meeting the specific needs and interests of the community. Because the experiences are authentic, connected to important challenges for the community partner, and ask students to transfer their knowledge of academic standards, students are more likely to see the value of their work and persevere through difficult tasks. Meaningful Rxs require teachers and community partners to collaboratively articulate roles and scope of the learning experience and are designed to ensure success based on local community values. A clerk at 7-11 is checking out customers. A man in line notices that the clerk is not giving customers a bag unless they ask for one. As he approaches the counter, he asks her why this is, and she answers "My niece goes to Seatack Elementary. They are learning about how plastic ends up in the ocean, harming ocean animals. I promised her I would not give my customers a bag unless they ask for one." As demonstrated by our 7-11 scenario, learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom walls can have a lasting impact on the community. This article examines one specific approach to authentic learning, The Reciprocal Experiences (Rx) Framework. Rx is designed to help schools and community partners create and sustain these types of experiences. Virginia Educational Leadership Vol. 13 2016 24

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