A Tool for Helping Define Service Learning Priorities

Service Learning Grid — Orienting to Priorities

I just spent a little time going through a group of sheets from my school’s seventh grade. Each of them filled out the Social & Service Learning Grid last Friday. Maybe someone has already invented this, but I figured this one out myself; if I’m stepping on your idea, let me know, but I hope this is useful to my colleagues at other schools. In essence, I wanted to know what the priorities of our seventh grade were — what areas really concerned them for a service learning opportunity: did they want to help raise funds to fight cancer, or did they want to help at the local homeless shelter?

The answer was, a little of both.  The vertical, y-axis of this graph represents the scale of the world… are you hoping your students will do work on a local level, a state or regional level, a national or international level?  They can make a mark or a dot along that line to help them decide on what scale they want to invest their service learning time.

The horizontal, x-axis of the grid represents types of service learning.  At the extreme left end are all forms of extreme poverty: homelessness, desperate hunger, and people in all-pervasive crisis.  We put emergency shelter and food pantries and shelters for abused women and children there.  At the extreme right end are all forms of cultural excellence: music and performing arts organizations.  In between are organizations that do micro-loans or that provide community grants for economic development, and the related issues of funding for cancer research and so on.

It’s not a perfect way to find out a large group’s opinions. One still has to collate the data, and then correlate that data with an actual organization or program that you want to work with.  Yet it still helped me and our seventh graders sort through our opinions about what our core opinions were about where we wanted to invest or attention and care for our service learning opportunities.

Maybe it will be helpful to you?

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