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Service Learning Primer

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

How Do You Do It?

Preparation

Action

Reflection

Reflection Questions

Reflection Activities

Some Advice

Project Planning Sheet

Project Examples

 

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ACTION

a) Plan It
Help the students organize the project themselves. This is good training in planning, collaborating, and taking responsibility. Develop a workplan. Brainstorm a list of tasks and determine their most logical sequence. Determine the initial action steps to begin the work. Lay out a realistic timeline for getting the work done, and set milestones for intermediate goals. The timeline should show when the class expects to finish each step, as well as when they will accomplish the major goals.

This phase of the project often involves forming ties with people or organizations in the community.

If you foresee any problems or obstacles, strategize ways to manage or eliminate them. Plan how the class will track the progress or measure the results of the work along the way.

Define the roles of each student and group of students. Allow the students to share the leadership of the project. Decide how the work will be distributed fairly and appropriately among the students, as well as what outside resources will be needed. Discuss and agree on how the students will support and coordinate with each other’s efforts to attain the common goals of the project (e.g. who will depend on whom to carry out the work?). This will deepen the students’ sense of responsibility and commitment to the project. Emphasize the principles of collective responsibility and collaboration, which are critical for the success of the project.


b) Do It
This usually involves a good deal of collaboration and sharing of responsibilities. During the project, students should reflect on their experiences (see the section on reflection, next page). Documenting their activities is a good way to do that. It gives the students practice in describing and summarizing various aspects of the project, and in thinking critically about what and how they are doing. They might keep journals, write articles, make a video or digital photo report, or connect their "in the field" learning to readings and other in-class activities.

It’s important to hold discussions during this "action" phase of the project in order to get feedback from the students and to discuss and solve problems. Ask the students how the workplan could be improved. This is an opportunity to share information, insights, make recommendations, and develop a continued workplan. Students should be encouraged to voice concerns, speak their mind and to challenge others in a mutually respectful environment where there are no negative consequences for differences of approach or opinion. Constructive feedback from the teacher can provide a lot of encouragement and motivation. Acknowledge the efforts of the students. Recognize both incremental progress on the part of one or more students and the major accomplishments of the class. Then identify and agree on what actions to take next. This process gives students experience in active listening, questioning, and problem solving which will expand their thinking while maintaining their focus on what they need to accomplish together.

How to increase student learning through reflection - next page please.

                    

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