“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 →
Back-to-School routines are all too familiar: faculty meetings, reading files, organizing the classroom, lesson planning. But have you considered any “Back-to-Service” routines to kick-start your service learning program? Here is one to consider: The Personal Inventory. Developed by one of our Educators Consortium for Service Learning (ECSL) advisors and a leader in service learning curriculum, Cathryn Berger Kaye, it is a great get-to-know-you activity that will provide useful information about your students, which can be used throughout the
For the Personal Inventory, students partner to interview each other about their interests, skills and talents, followed by creating a class inventory for ongoing reference. Uncovering students’ interests may help the group determine a social issue to focus on, one that students are passionate about. Knowing students’ skills and talents helps promote student-driven service learning experiences. Students can apply their various skills and talents during the service process, promoting the importance of each individual’s contributions.
After students complete the Personal Inventory with their peers, they can also interview their parents leading to a list of parents’ interests, skills and talents that can be a great asset. This can also be used with your entire school faculty, and may help you discover a service learning partner or advocate.
Perhaps, you have attended an ECSL meeting in the past and have participated in this exercise with us. You can find the Personal Inventory described in Kaye’s book, The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum, & Social Action. We hope that as you get “Back-to-Service” you will consider ECSL a partner and advocate throughout your service learning experiences this year. We look forward to supporting you at our meetings, as well as providing you with resources through our website and Facebook page. Welcome back to service learning!
Have any “Back-to-Service” routines or ideas that might be useful for other educators? We’d love for you to share. Return to the top to leave a comment.
For more on Personal Inventory, visit Cathryn Berger Kaye’s website where you can download the elementary and secondary Personal Inventory forms: www.cbkassociates.com/abcd-books/curriculum.