What is service learning?
Service learning is connecting academic curriculum to an activity that demonstrates
caring and concern for others in the community. Students actively participate in the
process from planning to implementation, reflection and evaluation in order to
deepen the learning experience.
Why is service learning important?
Service learning provides a meaningful opportunity for students to connect learning
and civic responsibility. Students use the academic and social skills from the
classroom and apply them in the context of real life experiences to gain compassion,
empathy, and a sense for the needs of others beyond their own.
Six Steps to Service Learning
Guidelines for project organization
- Identify a need
- Service learning projects should respond to a need in the community that the students feel is important. Obtain as much student input as possible to increase student interest and motivation. Research needs, generate ideas and make a list based on information used in class, newspaper articles, or from websites.
- Decide on a project
- Take into consideration the developmental level of the students. Younger children
(primary grades) tend to focus on the present, therefore projects that relate to their
immediate environment—their family, classroom, community—are understood best.
Older students (middle/high) can understand more abstract concepts relating to the
future or to places they have not seen.
- Assess your resources—number of students, time availability, and material costs, if
needed. Encourage students to earn money necessary for some projects by using a
- Plan your project
- Guide students through the planning phase. To support student involvement and
responsibility for the project, assist by assigning age appropriate tasks. Consider when, where and how the project will proceed. A “mini project planning sheet” can be found on the back of this service learning guide.
- Promote your project
- Advertise in your school newspaper, post signs around the school campus, and send
home flyers. If you are interested in community involvement, post notices on
community bulletin boards and ask your school’s Key Communicator to contact Public
- Carry out your project
Be flexible and prepared for last minute details. Enjoy the learning and character
building experience you are providing for your students.
- Reflection is the key to connecting the learning experience to personal development
and awareness. Discuss the experience with students, staff, parents, and the community members that you served. What did you learn? Did you accomplish your goals? How did you overcome obstacles? Would you do it again? If so, would you change anything? How did the experience make you feel?
"Sí, puede ser ¡hecho!"
"Yes, it can be done!"
~Cesar E. Chavez, Social Activist