“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.

Read the rest of this article published in the National Middle School Association Middle Ground Magazine by clicking here. The article provides an assortment of service-learning experiences from across the country.

K-12 Service-Learning Standards

These research-based K-12 Service-Learning Standards guide the teacher in maximizing the experience for all involved, including the students, all partners, and any recipients of the service. As you read through the service-learning examples on GoToServiceLearning, look for ways these have been integral to the process.

Meaningful Service
Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

Link to Curriculum
Service-learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

Service-learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

Service-learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

Youth Voice
Service-learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service-learning experiences with guidance from adults.

Service-learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

Progress Monitoring
Service-learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

Duration and Intensity
Service-learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

Reprinted with permission of the National Youth Leadership Council. Copyright © 2008 National Youth Leadership Council, St. Paul, Minn. www.nylc.org. All rights reserved.