Service-learning is a proven educational technique through which students apply their academic skills and knowledge to address real life needs in their own communities. Service-learning includes researching community needs, learning about the importance of civic participation, giving back to the community, reflecting, and demonstrating knowledge gained through participation. By solving real problems and addressing real needs, students can authentically learn to apply classroom knowledge in a real world context, explore character education, develop life skills or pursue a host of other educational outcomes. At the same time, students are contributing valuable services to schools and communities.
Service-learning facilitates a student’s growth in academics, social maturity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and leadership skills. Students who are involved in meaningful service-learning perform better on tests, demonstrate a sense of self esteem and purpose, connect with the community and want to be more civically engaged. They also are less inclined to be involved in negative behavior, more likely to graduate from high school and college, and have a greater sense of altruism to their communities.
The SLANT program steps to service-learning follows the “IMAGINE” model which includes:
Identify - What are the needs, issues or problems in your community? Why?
Map - Start creating your plan. Where will your project take place?
Ask -Who can you get to help? What resources can they provide?
Go -Do your project. Turn your ideas into action.
Inspect -Think back…what did you do? Who did you help? How did you impact someone or something else through your service-learning project?
Navigate - Be the leader. Navigate/walk others through your process. Demonstrate what you did, how you did it, why it made a difference and what can be done next to keep your project going, make it bigger, involve more people, etc.
Enjoy -Take time to celebrate your achievements. You did something great! Enjoy celebrating the change and impact your hard work has had.
The IMAGINE model follows the nationally recognized steps of service-learning—from idea inception to celebration. Program participants and team leaders will follow this process through their service-learning adventure.