Using Teachers’ Volunteer Experiences in the Dominican Republic to Develop Social Responsibility in Canadian Middle-School Students: An ‘Authors in the Classroom’ Approach

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Judith K. Bernhard
Lisa Evans
Yohannys Marmolejo
Teresa Cosentino


This study evaluated the potential utility of teachers’ volunteer service-learning experiences abroad to change the perceptions and actions of North American students toward cultural others.  A team of Canadian teachers working with local children in the Dominican Republic used the literacy intervention Authors in the Classroom program to guide these children in authoring identity texts about themselves and their families. These multi-layered texts are discussed with emphasis on the children’s understanding of their social situation. The teachers later shared these texts with a group of Canadian Grade 8 students and had them produce their own texts. The Canadian students showed a range of depth in their understanding of the lives of impoverished children, as well as a range of responses toward action for social justice.


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Author Biography

Judith K. Bernhard, Ryerson University

Department of Early Childhood Education