Preparing students with service learning and technology.
More than any generation before them, today’s students are living a truly global reality. They are more connected than ever before and have greater exposure to opportunities and challenges around the world. To be effective and responsive global citizens, they will need a whole new set of skills and sensibilities that generations before them did not need.
Are today’s classrooms outfitted with the right tools, services and experiences to properly prepare students for this reality? Well, there are certainly steps that today’s teachers can take, and resources that can guide them in helping their students address the opportunities and challenges they face.
Why service learning?
As a teacher, you’re likely aware of service learning. At its core, service learning is, in the words of the National Service Learning Clearinghouse, “A teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” Service learning provides students with enhanced opportunities for learning, offers students the chance to develop civic engagement skills, contributes to the development of every student’s personal and social skills, and, of course, benefits local and global communities.
A service-learning program that includes exposure to global societal issues gives students both an outlet for their compassion and the sensibilities and tools they need to pursue an active role in engaging with and improving the diverse world that they will have access to in the future.
Technology and digital skills are critical modern tools. Technology exposes students to new opportunities and engages them to learn, and to care, about the wider world around them. It enables civic responsibility and helps strengthen communities. Technology prepares students for a future that will be driven by digital skills, and it connects people. Technology connects students with each other, students with teachers, and students with stories from around the world. Integrated well, technology can serve to both engage students and prepare them for the world ahead. At the very least, technology makes learning fun, and kids enjoy learning when it involves technology.
The power of service learning and technology when brought together.
Service learning aims to engage students in helping others in their community. Technology effectively shrinks the world, making the entire globe a student’s community. So, when teachers combine a service-learning curriculum with the power of technology, they convert global challenges into local ones. This helps instil a sense of empathy in students that extends far beyond their own backyard. Making global concerns accessible for students empowers them to tackle new, bigger challenges.
So, what practical steps can a teacher like you take?
Extend your classroom beyond its walls
Use technology to connect with other likeminded classrooms and educators, opening doors for collaboration among students and authentic opportunities to showcase their learnings. Run a joint lesson plan with an educator from a nearby city or invite a classroom to share their successes and best practices from a recent project. By “breaking down” classroom walls, you provide students with different perspectives to collaborate and learn from one another, fueling creativity and inspiring further exploration.
Embrace technology to create a more inclusive classroom
Accessibility and inclusivity are one of the important societal issues service learning programming can address. Consider whether your school or classroom has barriers to inclusion, like inaccessible entrances, videos without captions or cluttered hallways. Making changes in your own classroom can inspire students to find ways to use technology to make their homes, schools and communities more accessible. The WE Are One program helps educators explore ways they can make their school and community more inclusive.
Consider becoming a WE School
WE Schools is a program that challenges young people to identify the local and global issues that spark their passion and empowers them with the tools to take action. It’s a unique program delivered by WE educational partners in 14,500 schools and groups across North America and the UK. It provides educators and students with curriculum, educational resources and a full calendar of action-campaign ideas. It’s an easy way to expose students to need around the world and teach them the steps to act.
Through technology, kids are connecting with one another, and the needs of populations around North America and the world, not only in their own community. Through service learning, kids can develop compassion and gain the tools necessary to help drive change. Fuse the two in your classroom and you empower your kids to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.
Download free WE Schools resources in OneNote here to bring innovative, service-learning programming into your classroom!
To start integrating technology and high-quality service-learning into your curriculum right away, join us for WE Day Connect. A brand new, interactive online event connecting students and teachers everywhere. Learn more here: https://www.we.org/wedayconnectsignup/