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Updated February 2010
Celebrate Global Youth Service Day -- April

Community Service in Action

The terms "community service" and "service learning" are often used interchangably. This special page offers definitions of those terms and many sample projects from teachers who believe that involving students in service projects is an effective strategy for engaging interest in the curriculum and in their communities.

Teaching Service Is Part of Principal's Mission
Despite the pressures on schools to focus more on academics, Dr. Shannon Vincent is convinced it's her job as principal to teach students the value of service. She began a year-long, school-wide service program that engages students and their parents.

Souper Bowl Connects Kids to Their Communities
Dont miss this opportunity for your school to connect with the community during Super Bowl week. Each year, the Souper Bowl of Caring involves students as they collect millions of pounds of food to benefit local organizations. Participation tips included.

Programs Connect U.S. Students, Orphans Abroad
The Memory Project enlists students to create portraits and books for orphaned children overseas. Teachers say the program helps students learn about the world and provides opportunities for authentic learning. Included: How your school can participate.

Lessons in Service Learning
Do today's U.S. schoolchildren represent one of the most socially active generations in history? We asked members of the Education World Teacher Team to tell us about their students' community-service attitudes and activities.

Kids Tutor Kids to Big Gains
When Ivy Hall School staff members were searching for a way to provide more individual support to struggling readers, they turned to Stevenson High School's service club, and found a supply of free, effective tutors.

Can We Teach Social Conscience?
Brenda Dyck examines whether social conscience is caught or taught. She shares how a recent project about homelessness helped reshape some -- but not all -- of her students' mental models.

Promoting Respect and Service: Two Programs Get A+ for Impact
While students at one Connecticut elementary school learn the "ropes" of respect, middle schoolers in California are making community service part of the curriculum. Both schools received special awards for their programs. Included: Community service tips.

Kids Can Help Too
Children in the United States and around the world have responded to reports of the recent tsunami in Asia by contributing to the relief efforts in record numbers -- and in unique ways. Learn what they're doing -- and how your students can help too. Included: Where and how to contribute to tsunami victims.

Voice of Experience: "I Never Knew I Could Be A Hero": Thoughts on Service Learning
To educator Kathie Marshall, service learning is an effective strategy for engaging students' interest in the curriculum and in their community. She offers ideas and resources for implementing service learning in any classroom on a shoestring budget.

Four Schools With Award-Winning Service-Learning Programs
Education World "tours" a few of the schools recognized as National Service-Learning Leader Schools. Learn about their approaches to service learning and about the special projects that earned them their awards. Included: Tips and information about how your school can participate in Service-Learning Leader Schools programs.


"I've discovered that service learning matters to students because it personalizes their educations and increases the 'real life' relevancy of what they learn. In addition, I have found that service learning empowers students personally and academically in ways that traditional methods may not. By connecting students to the broader community, service learning teaches positive civic values, leadership skills, goal setting, and a sense of optimism, resilience, and personal responsibility. That's pretty exciting stuff, I think!"

-- Kathie Marshall, "'I Never Knew I Could Be A Hero': Thoughts on Service Learning"

Service Learning in Action Across the Grades
No matter what grade level or subject you teach, service-learning projects can add a new dimension to your curriculum. Read about three excellent service-learning projects -- one each at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Each project is an example of true service learning.

Service Projects Help Students Find Their Voices
Educator Brenda Dyck describes a service project in which her middle school students participated. She reflects on what might happen if she connected her students' passion with the prescribed curriculum. Included: Links to additional articles that shed light on the value of service learning.

Students Learn While Helping at Soup Kitchen
A project launched by teachers and students at Presentation of Mary Academy in Hudson, N.H., closely tied classroom learning to students' participation in a project at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. Included: Details of how service learning can be tied to learning across the curriculum.

Special Dog "Guides" Middle School Curriculum
Students in Bryan, Texas, are raising a guide dog named Penny. Teachers at Sam Rayburn Middle School have turned this special community service project into lessons in geography, art, language, and more.

Community Service: Opportunity or Exploitation?
What about mandatory community service programs in schools? Are they a wonderful opportunity or are they "slave labor" for students?

Is Community Service a Waste of Time?
What is the difference between community service and service learning? Should your students participate in one or the other? Included: Education World talks to the experts about what it takes to create a real service-learning project -- if that's possible.

Earth Inc. -- A Community-Service Lesson Plan
A well-planned service-learning project should include stated academic and service goals, strategies for assessment, and opportunities for reflection. The Social Studies Education Consortium offers a template for a model service project. Included: Cross-curriculum goals, activities, and more!

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