22 February 2008

Pedagogy: service based learning (SBL) in action

Today we hear a lot about the "bad" in the world. Sometimes I think high school students are enamored with violence. Many can recall the details of a fight at lunch easier than recalling the meaning of "fat from calories" on a nutrition label. Which is more important to them?

I think service based learning (SBL) is a method that can collectively teach about different subjects, without a big strain on the teacher or student time. There is no longer any doubt, more and more research is illustrating the positive impact of service learning on student education, along with benefits to the schools and communities receiving the service.

The United Nations (UN) has a one billion tree program in 2008. At any K-12 campus students can plant a tree and then be a part of this global effort. During the tree planting they study:
1) types of tress for a certain habitat (ecology),

water and sun requirements (photosynthesis),
reading, 4) writing (purchase the appropriate tree and to complete reports required to plant tree on school grounds),
5) math in different ways: tree purchase, measuring the hole for tree, watering the tree, combining water and fertilizer,
6) communication/responsibility during the project (life skill).

Environmental Defense has a program for using with SBL: make the switch. In this one students can again be part of a global effort
as homework. This one reduces carbon emissions by replacing regular light bulbs with ecofriendly bulbs. IAs a participant, students are including science (global warming, electricity), math (bulb watt, electric bill), and geography (countries of the world). During the course of the project they will be doing different life skills: talking to others about the bulbs and why they are doing this work (environmental stewardship), and interacting with others to identify and replace bulbs (social skills).

SBL is flexible program to allow students the experience of doing something rewarding and personally satisfying .... at school.

Have any other ideas or resources for SBL?

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