The purpose of K-12 education is to equip students with the skills they need to build their future. By combining academic goals and community engagement, service-learning supports these goals.
It allows students to develop hands-on communication and collaboration skills while learning to be engaged citizens.
But to be effective, service-learning needs to be designed around the students who participate and the community members they serve. Here are five questions to ask when developing a co-curricular service plan for K-12 students.
Is This Project Age Appropriate?
It is vital to consider the age and development level of your students when developing experiential education opportunities.
Design volunteer projects that they can participate in fully, and ensure you provide them with the training and preparation they will need to be effective. The best projects allow students to stretch and grow without overwhelming them.
What Are My Students' Strengths and Interests?
You can't always teach your students' favorite subjects! But by aligning service-learning projects with elements of classroom learning that your students enjoy and are good at, you can help them stay engaged and get the most out of the opportunity.
If your students are leaning into environmental issues or health and wellness, you can design your service-learning plan around those topics. Or, if your students enjoy a particular subject — like creative writing, music or sports — you can find partners that align with those interests. For instance, your student-athletes might love volunteering to teach younger children to swim or play a sport!
Who Should We Partner With?
If you're thinking about designing a service-learning project, reach out to potential partners early in the process. They will have invaluable insight into how your students can help address community challenges.
By speaking to local community organizations and agencies, you'll also get an idea of who can host your students and what support they will need.
Communication will be critical throughout the process, so ensure you have a good way to stay in touch. With GivePulse's all-in-one service-learning management platform, you can store community partner details and ensure you and your partners have access to the same information. You can also list opportunities and match interests, activities, events and opportunities with your students.
How Will This Encourage Long-term Engagement?
The best service-learning plans create a lasting impact on your students and the community. For instance, a student may continue volunteering long after the project ends. Or, their engagement with a local environmental organization might inspire their own advocacy efforts.
By helping your students to understand how their experience relates to local, national and global issues, you can set them up to be thoughtful, engaged citizens.
One way of doing this is to build regular opportunities for reflection into your projects. Using GivePulse, you can collect and assess student reflections and allow faculty, students and partners to engage in an ongoing dialogue.
Do We Have the Resources to Support This Project?
Helping students become agents of change in the community is a huge responsibility. And to do it well, you'll need the right tools to manage and track student engagement, stay in touch with partners and measure your impact.
GivePulse provides an all-in-one platform to streamline the logistics of managing community partnerships and tracking engagement for students in service-learning courses.
From managing your partners in a database to coordinating placements and scheduling, collecting reflections, hosting fundraisers and assessing data, our comprehensive solution can help you design service-learning projects that are sustainable, impactful and mutually beneficial.
Ready to empower your students and uplift your community partners? Schedule a demo with GivePulse today.
GivePulse's mission is to enable everyone in the world to participate and engage in lifting their community to new heights. We do so by providing a platform to list, find, organize and measure the impact of service-learning, community engagement, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and volunteerism.
Founded in 2012 in Austin, Texas, GivePulse works with 650,000+ groups, including colleges and universities, nonprofits, businesses, K-12/school districts and cities and municipalities. Together, we connect millions of people in an effort to create positive social change.
Start making a difference today by visiting www.givepulse.com.