How does the Service Learning Project work?
Every phase of the SLP model of effective service learning is student-driven, beginning with the selection of the social problem. During the first few meetings, students consider their community and brainstorm issues of concern. For younger students, the community can be narrowly defined as the classroom or OST (Out-of-School Time) program. The community expands with the age of the students, with older grades encouraged to consider issues ranging from a school or neighborhood problem to an international crisis.
Once an issue is selected, students enter an intensive research phase during which they become experts on their social problem. They determine the cause and impact of the problem, existing policies or methods to address it, and a better strategy for preventing or solving it. This phase could include gathering data through surveys and petitions; interviewing or writing letters to people or organizations with knowledge of the issue; reading books, magazines and newspapers; doing research on the internet; meeting in person with local legislators and adults working in the field; and taking field trips.
Student-led research continues throughout the project but once they have enough information, the teacher or group leader guides the students through the creation of an Action Plan. Whether it’s adults living in their community or the legislators representing them, the students will persuade them to change their behavior in order to effectively address the social problem they select. The action students take will vary greatly depending upon the issue they choose. You can find a few examples of our projects here.