This February ECSL was honored to have Cathryn Berger Kaye lead participants through a service learning immersion experience. Four Corners is a highly engaging activity that explores the stages of service learning first hand. Within the service learning methodology developed by Kaye, there are several elements that come in fours; four kinds of action research used to explore a community need and four types of service that can be performed, for example. Such concepts came to life during this dynamic experience. To help capture some of the discoveries made, here are “four” teachable moments participants explored as they immersed themselves in service learning:
Framing: One powerful motivator for service learning lies in the ability to frame the process from a student’s perspective. Their interests, skills and talents can be unveiled and utilized during the service learning process. Students can have a voice for societal issues they care about and be at the center of proactive ways to address their concerns.
Organizing: Students get real experience in community organizing as they explore questions like, “Who amongst us has skills and talents that can be put to good use during this process? Who in the community is doing something to address the societal issue at hand? How can we come together to provide a service for an unmet need in our community?”
Understanding: When students engage in authentic investigation about their community, they come to a deeper understanding about what is needed to support the cause. When they use action research, they immerse themselves in real-life discovery through activities like interviewing or conducting surveys. Students and teachers alike come to know Confucius’ adage: I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
Reinforcing: Throughout the stages of service learning students get a chance to revisit skills they are building. For example, note-taking can be practiced when interviewing a community partner, and then reinforced as they do follow-up research with media content. Students may write letters to invite an expert into the classroom as a part of their investigation, and then revisit the skill again by writing thank you letters for their visit. Students develop proficiency for skills they are able to practice through repetition. They may come to see them as more valuable or practical too because they are serving a purpose within a real-world context.
Teachers, administrators and community organization representatives came together to explore these powerful elements of service learning. Four Corners: A Service Learning Immersion Experience became their road map for the service learning process. Now, they are equipped with tools to take their students on a service learning journey through the four seasons and to the four corners of the earth.
In January, the Museum of Tolerance is offering top-notch educational trainings exclusively for CA based educators. A great fit for service learning practitioners is Rock Your World, a social justice program that engages upper elementary, middle and high school students, as well as higher ed/teacher training programs and community partner organizations.
Rock Your World is a perfect complement to service learning and project based learning experiences, technology integration and the Common Core.
The two day course is free. All costs, including travel and accommodations for those out of area, are covered. And, teachers can earn CEUs/LAUSD salary point credit.
The Museum of Tolerance is a powerful experience in and of itself. The exhibits and speakers, coupled with this program, will promote understanding of human rights issues, inspire youth voice, integrate digital literacy and strengthen curiosity while leaving students (and teachers) eager to take action about the things they care about.
January 8th and 9th
Rock Your World: Online Curriculum for Social Action
Museum of Tolerance
Register by Dec. 21st
(max enrollment is 65)
*Rock Your World, part of the Creative Visions Foundation, is a featured component of the Become a Defender unit of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights’ Speak Truth to Power curriculum.
“The humble question is an indispensable tool: the spade that helps us dig for truth, or the flashlight that illuminates surrounding darkness. Questioning helps us learn, explore the unknown, and adapt to change. That makes it a most precious “app” today, in a world where everything is changing and so much is unknown.”
Warren Berger, Author of A More Beautiful Question
Have you thought about how the role of questions will advance your service learning process this year? Students engaged in service learning are challenged to find and address authentic needs facing their community. To do this they must inquire about what is happening in the world around them. As the process of service learning gets underway in your classroom, it is important to help build a culture of inquiry that celebrates students’ questions as much as their answers. Use this guide to help you make questioning a vibrant part of your service learning culture this year.
1. Asking Questions About Ourselves
Knowing who’s in the room will be an essential resource for your service learning endeavors. What interests do your students have? This might give insight into the societal issues that will engage them or that they will find relevant to their lives. What skills and talents does each student bring to the table that will be of value as they design and implement their service plans? Service learning consultant and author, Cathryn Berger Kaye, developed the Personal Inventory process as a resource for student-centered service learning from the beginning of the experience. This activity can help you with an important motto for creating student voice and choice: To thine own students be true. Continue reading →
Every chef loves stumbling upon a great recipe- one that boasts carefully thought out steps and wholesome ingredients. Like a good chef, the service learning educator plans, prepares and serves healthy curriculum that provides rich, meaningful experiences to nourish their students’ engagement, social-emotional growth, and 21st century skills (to name a few). If you’re looking for a recipe for service learning success, you can find one in Cathryn Berger Kaye‘s A Baker’s Dozen: Guideposts to a Meaningful Service Learning Program. This article has all of the essential ingredients for establishing a vibrant and well-rounded culture of service learning within classrooms and schools. We’re honored to share these guideposts at our fall workshop and feature it here on our blog. Sink your teeth in and enjoy!
Are you looking to create an outdoor classroom by planting trees or a native plant garden on your campus? Join TreePeople on Saturday, October 4, 2014 for our FREE School Greening Workshop. This class will cover the ins and outs of planting and caring for trees as well as planting native plant gardens on school campuses including meeting district regulations. Mini grants are available for all participating schools.
Who: Teachers, Administrators and Eco Club Students
What: School Greening Workshop. See attached flier!
When: Saturday, October 4, 2014 9:00 AM – 12:00 NOON
Where: TreePeople’s Center for Community Forestry, 12601 Mulholland Drive Beverly Hills 90210
Mini Grants include:
1. A FREE project mentor and on-campus support with TreePeople staff
2. FREE tools and event day support for your planting or garden installation
3. FREE trees and plants for most projects
4. FREE gardening supplies
All participants must register at
For more information please contact email@example.com
Save the Date for ECSL’s Fall 2014 Workshop!
Join fellow educators and stretch your thinking about service learning. Discover easily applicable new frameworks teachers are using to integrate the 5 stages of service learning into their curriculum. Converse with peers about your specific questions and interests as you start the school year. Dynamic, interactive, invaluable workshop to help expand your programs! RSVP to ECSLabc@gmail.com .
Tuesday, Oct. 7th
3:00 − 5:30pm
Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A., 90049
Soon the curtains will close on another school year. You may be starting to wrap up your service learning efforts that you embarked on with your students. But, before the lights go down … roll the credits! Recognize and celebrate all that was learned and accomplished along the way.
Demonstration is a valuable step in the service learning process that helps tell the story of your service learning journey. This stage allows students to share what they have learned. They can continue their critical thinking by synthesizing their experiences and teaching others about the social issue they encountered. Of course, celebrating their hard work and effort may be a natural part of this process too.
But most of the time, the end of the school year comes, and the social issue you addressed still exists. Can demonstration be used to help continue the process beyond what was accomplished this school year? Here are a few ideas for using what this year’s students generated as a starting point for future service. Think of it as an outline for a movie sequel! Continue reading →
Looking for ways to integrate technology and your environmental service learning curriculum? MINDSHIFT, an educational blog focusing on the future of education, shares four educational apps that center around environmental awareness: Apps That Challenge Kids to Solve Environmental Issues
Planning is bringing the future into the present
so that you can do something about it now.
While this quote may have been addressing personal time management, it could also be applied to Cathryn Berger Kaye’s workshop: Engage in Effective Planning for Service Learning. ECSL was honored to host Cathy as she engaged in her new professional development material, which helps educators plan for dynamic learning through service. Her guidance focused on several key areas that help ensure successful learning outcomes: Developing essential questions, making curricular connections, enriching learning, and assessing outcomes.
Through both case study examples and usable planning tools and activities, Cathy helped participants ignite systematic plans and get their service learning ideas in motion. Always an advocate for youth voice and authentic programs that addresses real needs, she offered a multitude of different entry points to stimulate service learning opportunities. Cathy posed a host of places that a service learning journey might start. Perhaps there is a need identified by a student? A community request? A thematic unit or skill set already taught in class that compliments a community need?
The workshop allowed teachers, administrators and parents guided opportunities to bring their ideas of the future into to the present. After leaving the meeting with planning tools and a network of colleagues to share ideas and feedback, participants have the opportunity to do something about their ideas now!
Learn more about Cathy’s work at www.cbkassociates.com.
We’d love to hear how the winter meeting helped shape your classroom’s service process. Join ECSL at our spring meeting- an expo highlighting engaged service learning programs developed during the 2013-14 school year. Find out details in our “Upcoming Events” section of our website and RSVP via email to ECSLabc@gmail.com.