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Introduction to Service Learning


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Title: Introduction to Service Learning

Introduction to Service Learning
Training Provided By
  • Fran Hollon
  • NYS LSA Statewide Coordinator
  • New York Department of Education
  • Learn Serve America Program
  • 89 Washington Ave.
  • Room 965 Education Building Addition
  • Albany, New York 12234
  • (518) 486-5781

Definition of Service Learning
  • The National and Community Trust Act passed by
    Congress in 1990 defines service learning as a
  • under which students learn and develop through
    active participation in thoughtfully organized
    service experiences that meet actual community
    needs that are coordinated in collaboration with
    the school and community

  • that is integrated into students academic
    curriculum and provides structured time for
    students to think, talk or write about what the
    student did and saw during the actual service
  • that provides students with opportunities to use
    newly acquired skills and knowledge in real-life
    situations in in their own communities
  • that enhances what is taught in school by
    extending student learning beyond the classroom
    into their communities and

  • helps foster a sense of caring in others.
  • In other words, service learning is made up of
    activities that connect serving your community
    with the learning you already do in your
    classrooms. Service learning provides real life
    application of knowledge and skills to real life
    community needs.

Key Definitions
  • Volunteerism
  • Volunteerism refers to people who of their own
    free will and without pay, perform some service
    or good work (such as with charitable
    institutions or community agencies). Many of
    you may have volunteered while growing up through
    scouting, 4-H, church youth groups or other

Community Service
  • Community service is a form of volunteerism. The
    important point here is that the community
    service is done within in a defined community.
    This community can take many forms. Some
    examples could include your classroom, your
    school, the town where your students live their
    city, etc. There does not have to be an
    intentional tie to learning her the emphasis is
    placed strictly on the service that is performed.

Community Based Learning
  • Community based learning is the term used to
    describe any learning experience that occurs in
    the community. Common forms of community based
    learning include
  • internships and apprenticeships.
  • Although internships and apprenticeships do not
    have any formal service purpose, they offer
    important experiences for students to master
    skills in a real-life setting. Community
    based-learning may or may not include service.

  • In order for service learning to indeed be that,
    it is key to understand the distinction between
    it and other forms of service.

Service Learning
  • Service Learning is the method of instruction
    that emphasizes both the service and the learning
    goals in such a way that both occur and are
    enriched by each other. Key components in
    Service Learning are
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Reflection
  • Celebration/Demonstration

There are other elements that should be part of
strong service learning method as well. These
elements include student ownership, a genuine
community need, school and community
partnerships, as well as clear connections to
curricular learning objectives. The service
should drive the learning it should not be an
add on but an add to.
Service learning projects emphasize service and
learning outcomes and are designed to incorporate
both. Most prominently, programs that emphasize
learning always include a strong post reflective
element in which students are encouraged to
utilize higher order thinking skills to make
sense of as well as extend the formal learning
that took place through participating in the
learning experience.
Elements of Service Learning
Process Elements
  • PARC/D

  • Preparation includes everything that is done to
    help the participants develop the necessary
    skills and knowledge for the project.

  • The meaningful service performed by participants
    can take many forms and may include teaching
    others, creating a product or performance,
    providing a service or advocating for change.
    The action can occur in one day, over a
    particular week, as well as over the course of
    several months.

  • Processing or reconstructing the service
    experience helps to make the connection to
    learning. This occurs through out the service
    learning process and can take many different
    forms. Participants can reflect by writing,
    doing, telling, and reading etc.

  • It is important that we celebrate/demonstrate to
    acknowledge that participant and communities have
    completed their project and done a GREAT job.
    Everyone that participated in doing the service
    should be included in the celebration/demonstratio
    n. This should include public officials, site
    personnel and the media. Students now have the
    opportunity to show what they have accomplished.

This is also the place where all participants
can feel as well as see the impacts that their
service learning has had on themselves, those
they assisted, their school and communities.
Other Important Elements
Participant Voice
  • Participants should play an active role in the
    selection, design, implementation, as well as
    evaluation of the service learning project.

Genuine Need
  • It is important that the service learning project
    meet a genuine/true community need.

Connection to Learning
  • Effective service learning establishes clear
    learning outcomes that require application of
    concepts, content and skills, as well as involve
    participants in the construction of their own

  • Promoting communication and interaction with the
    community encourages partnerships and
    collaboration. Partnerships can include
    businesses, community organizations, historical
    societies, colleges/universities, public or
    private school, social service agencies and
    National Service Programs.

Effective Service Learning Framework
  • Reflection consists of the use of creative
    critical thinking skills in order to prepare for
    think about and learn from the service learning
  • What is it? Structured, objective, critical
    thinking, sharing and learning.
  • When?throughout, before, during, as well as
  • Where?anywhere classroom, site, bus.
  • Why?connect and crystallize real world service
    and learning experience.
  • How?individually, group using a variety of

Guiding Principles
  • Most effective when done throughout
  • Actively Involve both recipients and students
  • Utilize a wide array of reflection strategies
  • Post service reflection ASAP after the event
  • Reexamine insights a week, month, semester, or
    year later.

Basic Reflection Techniques
  • KWLD
  • What do we Know?
  • What do we Want?
  • What have we Learned?
  • What can we Do now?
  • What?
  • So What?
  • Now What?

Connecting Service Learning
  • Start With The Learning
  • Start With The Service
  • Connect to the Service
  • Connect with the Learning

Start With The Learning
  • If you are attempting to find opportunities to
    integrate a service component into your regular
    academic program here are three questions by
    which you can explore possible connections around
    any unit of instruction.
  • Teach othersCould students teach what they have
    learned (skill, knowledge) to others?
  • Product PerformanceCould the results of the
    students efforts be contributed to a product or
    presented to someone?
  • Addressing Community Need/IssueCould the
    classroom learning be applied to provide a
    service or to help solve a real concern in the
    school or community?

Start With Learning
  • If you are attempting to find service
    opportunities that you can then integrate into
    your academic program, here are a few ways to
    find community needs or problems to address
    through service.
  • Needs/Assets List With students create a list
    of all of the good and bad
  • things about the community.

Walkabout Take a walk around the community
recording observations of what is seen, heard,
etc. Media Search Scan newspapers, listen to
radio or TV reports for information about the
community. Visit Visit important sites in the
community soup kitchens, thrift stores, nursing
homes, and any agencies where people can get
  • Map Have students make a map including points
    of interest and concern, also
  • indicate the locations of important resources.
  • Survey Create, conduct, and share the results
    of a variety of surveys that will
  • help students gain a better understanding of the
  • Interview various members of the community to
    determine their ideas for service projects as
    well as the role they could play in a project.

Curriculum Connection
  • Curriculum/Discipline
  • Social Studies Unit on Local Town History
  • Science Unit on Water Quality
  • Math Unit on Measuring
  • Spanish Unit on Grammar
  • Project/Service
  • Interviewing local Senior Citizens on Town
  • History for Centennial
  • Celebration Clean-Up of Stream Behind School
  • Constructing Picnic Tables for Community Park
  • Translating Childrens Books for local Head Start

The Curriculum Connection
  • Social Studies Unit on Vandalism
  • Health Unit on Safety
  • Science Unit on Local Flora Fauna
  • Science/Social Studies Unit on Aging
  • Science Unit on Conservation
  • Painting Mural on Public Building Downtown
  • Lobby for a Traffic Light Near School
  • Creating a Nature Trail
  • Making and Playing Games With Residents at a
    Nursing Home
  • Developing a School-Wide Recycling Program

The Curriculum Connection
  • Social Studies Unit on Hunger and Poverty
  • Language Arts Unit on Letter Writing
  • Social Studies Unit on Laws Protecting Those With
  • Organizing Canned Food Drive for the Homeless
  • Writing Letters to Nursing Home Residents
  • Building A Ramp for Wheelchairs at a Local
    Community Agency.

Evaluation of StudentsPortfolios are a great way
to document and evaluate service-learning
projects. The contents are evidence of learning
and may include
  • Reflections activities
  • Written work such as
  • Journal entries
  • Essays
  • Research Papers, data
  • Outlines of presentations
  • Scored rubrics
  • Evaluation checklists
  • Teachers anecdotal records
  • Attendance log
  • Test results
  • Constructed products such as
  • Videotapes
  • Books
  • Charts
  • Pamphlets, Brochures

Project EvaluationProject Name__________
Examples of Service Learning
Fourth and fifth grade classes at Clinton
Elementary School teamed up to contribute
something to celebrate the centennial of their
town, Clinton, Wisconsin. They interviewed senior
citizens to gather stories that related to the
town history. They did library research and
obtained records from the city government. From
their research, they developed a multi
generational play of the town entitled Clinton,
Our Town. The play was created and performed in
partnership with a local theater group. Support
from other businesses was also solicited for
props, costumes and other aspects of the play.
The play was such a success it is now put on
annually by the school and the theater group.
The Academy for Science and Foreign Language is a
k-8 school in Huntsville Alabama. Students there
discovered that the early history of African
Americans in the building of their community had
never been documented. Though interdisciplinary,
cross grade projects this school has taken on the
researching and recording of that history.
Students helped with the restoration of an old
African American cemetery that had been neglected
and forgotten. With community support they have
restored headstones, written books and created
plays about the lives of the people buried there.
Their work included interviews with senior
citizens whose ancestors were among those
unrecorded heroes as well as library and land
deed research. This project has unified the
community in many ways .
Students at an alternative high school in Miami,
Fla. had been tutoring third graders in language
arts at a nearby elementary school. At the close
of the first year, the students initiated,
designed, and implemented a science component to
improve and expand the tutoring program. The high
school students hosted the elementary students at
the UM/Knight Center to view their seven marine
aquariums and participate in student-designed
activities. Student presentations at the
elementary school on marine biology and
oceanography, and a visit to local recreation
area to see examples of marine communities were
also planned. Finally, students decided to give
the third grade an aquarium for their classroom
as well as printed materials and a CD-ROM they
had developed.
History students in Los Angeles, California
discovered their high school grounds once
included a beautiful Japanese garden. The garden
was built during the 1930s and early 40s by
Roosevelt High School students. Then, during
World War II, the federal government ordered
Japanese-Americans relocated to internment camps.
Roosevelt High lost many Japanese-American
students to the camps, and the Japanese garden
was vandalized and destroyed. Few
Japanese-American students attend Roosevelt High
School today. The population is predominately
Latino. But when the students learned of the
garden they decided to rebuild it as a tribute to
the Japanese-Americans who died fighting for the
country or who were interned during the war.
Students researched and mapped out the original
garden. Then they went into the community looking
for help. They were able to complete the garden
with much donated materials and labor.
Why Service Learning
  • What the Research Says

Potential Outcomes of Involvement in Service
  • Academic
  • Problem Solving
  • Ethical Development
  • Social Responsibility
  • Assertiveness
  • Career Goals
  • Political Efficacy
  • Critical Thinking
  • Moral Reasoning
  • Self Esteem
  • Civic Responsibility
  • Tolerance For Diversity

Benefits To Students
  • Students develop a habit of critical reflections
    in their experiences, enabling them to learn
    throughout life
  • Students become more curious and motivated to
  • Students increase their sense of social and civic
  • Students feel more committed to addressing the
    underlying problems behind social issues
  • Students understand problems in a more complex
    way and can imagine alternative solutions

Benefits To Students
  • Students demonstrate more sensitivity to how
    decisions are made and how institutional
    decisions affect peoples lives
  • Students learn to respect cultural differences
  • Students learn to work more collaboratively with
    other people on real problems
  • Students realize that they can make a difference.

Benefits and Impacts of Service Learning
  • National
  • Service Learning produces an array of positive
    impacts in the areas of pro-social behavior
  • acceptance of diversity,
  • connection to cultural heritage,
  • development of ethics and
  • Strengthening of protective factors related to
  • Service Learning clearly helps students to
    develop caring, altruism, and other social
    emotional learning.
  • (Billig, 2000)

Melchior and Ballis (2002) found that service
learning programs had a statistically significant
impact on students civic behaviors,
particularly in the areas of responsibility for
the welfare of others personal and social
responsibility for community involvement, service
leadership, acceptance of diversity, and
communication skills.
  • New York State
  • The FY 2003-2004 Learn and Serve America Program
    evaluation surveyed over 500 teachers who
    reported moderate and great positive changes in
    students in various areas as follows
  • Attendance (30)
  • Academic performance (47)
  • Class participation(70)
  • Fewer number of discipline problems (38)
  • -- research conducted by CASE _at_ CUNY
    Graduate Center

CUNY Research continued
  • How students treat one another (66)
  • Severity of discipline problems (less
  • How students treat adults (65)
  • Students willingness to take responsibility
  • Students understanding of the service need
    addressed by the project (77)
  • Interactions between students and teachers (71)
  • Students connection with population served
  • General classroom climate(59)
  • Number of at-risk behaviors (decreased) (24)
  • Empathy expressed by students (60)
  • Conflict resolution skills(36)
  • Reduction in bullying in class(22)

Student Testimonials
  • Service learning has taught me to give someone a
  • Service Learning connected me to others.
  • Service learning has helped me not to be so
  • Our service learning program has impacted me
    as an individual because I feel more important,
    like I have an actual place and purpose. I have a
    higher self esteem and greater tolerance for all
    types of people. As a student our program has
    taught me to do oral presentations better, to be
    more organized and to balance my time better. As
    a member of society it has made me realize how
    everyone affects everyone else, whether they know
    it or not.

A Parent's Perspective
  • As a parent , I have seen my daughters benefit
    from service learning in the following ways
  • an increase in their knowledge,
  • awareness, compassion, tolerance
  • empathy for those that are handicapped or
  • development of critical thinking, time
    management, leadership and communication skills.
  • All of these are key to success in college and
    the world of work and a growth in personal self
    esteem which is so important for young people

What Americans Want from Public Education
  • In a survey of 1000 Americans, research found
  • 94 agreed a good education is much more than
    just learning to read, write and do math, and
  • 89 agreed that schools need to teach in
    different ways to reach different types of
  • When given a definition of service learning, 90
    agreed they were likely to support it in their
    local public schools,
  • 90 said they were likely to support service
    learning if academic skills were tied to service,
  • 90 agreed that service learning helps students
    build the skills they need to be successful later
    in life.
  • (Roper Starch Worldwide for the W.
    K. Kellogg Foundation, 2000)
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