“The students receive more from these service-learning experiences than in typical classroom lessons. They are able to work with others and enhance their communication skills. They are also able to see working professionals when they go out to do their service. These are things we can't do in the classroom.” Betsy Galbraith, Teacher, Mount Ogden Junior High
What Is Service-Learning?
|Service-Learning: The Time Is Now
By Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., CBK Associates and author of The Complete Guide to Service Learning
Have you noticed the groundswell of volunteerism during the past few years? In 2006 alone, 60 million Americans dedicated 8.1 billion hours of service to community organizations. More recently, President Obama has emphasized his support of service and service initiatives. Upon signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in April, Obama said,
"We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I'm not going to tell you what your role should be; that's for you to discover. But I am asking you to stand up and play your part. I am asking you to help change history's course."
Our schools and our youth have much to contribute and much to gain by joining this call. What better way to introduce our young adolescents to community and civic participation than through service-learning experiences!
What Does Service-Learning Look Like?
In the early days, we thought service-learning meant adding a small service-related project to whatever the students were studying. Or we put academics aside for an afternoon to go out and "make a difference" in the community. Now we know more and we know better.
Service-learning is a powerful, hands-on teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful service and classroom content. The process creates authentic learning opportunities while teaching civic responsibility through service to others with reciprocal benefits for all involved. Teachers tell me that their students go far beyond class requirements with service-learning. Students discover intrinsic motivation when they care about the subject matter and recognize a need they can fulfill. Meeting academic standards has relevance as classrooms come alive with engaged students and teachers.
Five stages of service-learning
adapted by Susan Abravanel
V.P. - Education at Youth Service America
High-quality service-learning is structured by the following five stages, guiding students through their development of meaningful service activities linked to academic goals:
Identify a local, national, or global need you would like to address.
- Assess the community need.
- Identify possible community partners.
- Establish a baseline.
Develop a strategy for change and a common vision for success.
- Identify the service and learning goals.
- Create your action plan.
Implement the service activity to make a difference
- Document your activity.
Think about how your service and learning relate to you, your community, and your future.
- Reflect before, during, and after your service and learning.
Showcase your results and celebrate your outcomes.
- Share what you have done and what you have learned.
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Taken from the Youth Service America Semester of Service Guide. To download the PDF of the entire guide, click here.