By taking part in "Elder Learning Service," one can learn much from the experience. In fact, this is becoming a growing phenomenon both academically and within the community itself. All the research points to the positive impact of how much it empowers individuals into becoming better citizens by becoming self-aware of those that are in need. A service learning service was designed for high school students entitled, "Carrying on the Legacy of San Juan's Elders." Many conclusions arose as well as project outcomes for one to consider for any future project.
Service Learning: High School Students Engaged in their Community
The district in which I teach allowed me to do a service learning project with my high school students upon asking permission from the principal of the school. These were my goals when working with each of them. 1) Promote student and elderly intergenerational communication; 2) Improve student understanding of elderly and discourage ageism; 3) Enhance student learning of San Juan history; 4) Provide a student lesson that promotes communication and writing skills; and 5) Provide a finished product that can be given to the elderly person's family. Each participating elder either living in a personal residence, assisted living or home for the elderly will be paired with two Robinson High School students whose responsibility is to conduct one-on-one interviews to capture the elder's life history. The elder's story will get made into a printed, audio or video mini-biography that is provided to the person interviewed and family members.
Resources will include the Robinson mission statement, a Literature Review based on service learning references located at the end of this document, the PowerPoint software and the handout on results.
Prepare an information handout, checklist of visits, a report, PowerPoint presentation, and a professional development evaluation and feedback. Also, submit information handout, PowerPoint presentation, and professional development evaluation and feedback.
Service learning is a practice that is highly acclaimed by researchers and educators as means to an ends to achieve school improvement (Seitsinger, 2005). The need for students to reach a high level of proficiency according to the established national benchmark that determines whether students are nationally capable. Even students doing well in according to these standards are not necessarily prepared to compete globally.
According to Seitsinger (2005), "Service-learning (SL) is among recommendations from educators for including real-world experiences in to students' education. The paucity of research and mixed findings on academic outcomes from K-12 SL led the author to examine opportunity-to-learn conditions and practices of 2,164 teachers in 271 middle schools involved in school improvement" (Seitsinger, 2005).
Seitsinger (2005) states, "Service-learning includes community service and goes further as an instructional strategy. The Alliance for Service-Learning in Education Reform (ASLER, 1993) definition of service-learning illustrates the complexity of this approach as a method of education, as well as the highly specific "operationalization" of the concept, at least as its proponents meant it to be applied" (Seitsinger, 2005).
Major league baseball via its Learn360 (Learn360, 2011) program enables K-12 students to view its service-learning content that covers core curriculum subjects necessary to develop the link between service activity subjects and core subjects. According to Learn360, "The partnership's goal is to create lifelong commitment to volunteerism through service-learning opportunities to high school students across North America" (Learn360, 2011).
Ren (2008) mentions, "A shared conceptualization of the term service-learning has helped with the issue of credibility. One significant difference between 1996 and today is the academic credibility associated with the practice of service-learning. This credibility has pushed the field to move beyond conceptual descriptions and anecdotal evidence to generate concrete outcomes through empirical studies" (Ren, 2008).
Additionally, according to Ren (2008), "Over the past decade, a large number of empirical articles have added to the literature on the measurable outcomes of service learning initiatives (Bringle et al., 2005). Engagement in service-learning projects has been shown to increase students' commitment to service (McCarthy and Tucker, 2002), preparedness for careers (Gray et al., 2000), personal growth, self-esteem, and personal efficacy (Primavera, 1999), communication skills, and social issue awareness (Leung et al., 2006), citizenship (Lester et al., 2005), and commitment to social justice and social change (Roschelle et al., 2000; Ren, 2008).
McLaughlin (2010) said, "Considerable growth in attention has been paid to community service and service-learning in the past 10 to 15 years (e.g. Lester, et al., 2005; Sullivan -- Catlin, 2002; Eyler & Giles, 1999; Hironimus-Wendt & Lovell-Troy, 1999; Rhoads, 1998; Jacoby, 1996; Kraft 1996). However, the bulk of this research is being done in grades K-12 and of general university populations. The perceived value of service-learning projects in schools of business remains largely undeveloped (Lester, Tomkovick, Wells, Flunker, and Kickul, 2005); hence, the need to focus on business schools in our service-learning research. The more we study service-learning, the more information we can pass along to achieve the greatest potential of positive outcomes from such projects" (McLaughlin, 2010).
According to Rose, Rose, & Norman (2005), "Research supports the benefits of incorporating community involvement projects in the curriculum at all levels, from K-12 to M.B.A. education. Advocates claim that service learning helps students develop skills in interpersonal relationships, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, and communication, while acquiring better interpersonal relationships, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, and communication, while acquiring better understandings of course content (Tucker and McCarthy 2001)" (Rose, Rose, Norman, 2005).
Govekar & Meenakshi (2007) mentioned, "Increasingly, experiential pedagogies have been hailing service learning as a means of linking formal classroom instruction with real-world learning that occurs beyond the classroom and involves the community (Godfrey, Illes, & Berry, 2005; Rama, Ravenscroft, Wolcott, & Zlotkowski, 2000; U.S. Department of Education, 1999). Although researchers have defined service learning variously in the literature, they have recognized service learning as an educational research approach that combines community service projects with credit bearing educational experience"(Govekar & Meenakshi, 2007).
According to Schmidt, Shumow, & Kackar, (2007), "This study investigates several questions about service activity among a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students. First, what are the characteristics of adolescents who do service? Second, controlling or background factors related to service, does participation in service activities contribute to adolescents' academic adjustment, behavioral adjustment, and citizenship? Third, do the benefits of service differ depending on whether service was voluntary or required?" (Schmidt, Shumow, Kackar, 2007).
Schmidt, Shumov, Kackar, (2007) mentioned, "Several small studies and program evaluations on school-based service learning have highlighted the benefits of service activities for students' academic development. Such benefits include: improved grades and grade point averages (Follman 1998; O'Bannon 1999; Shumer 1994), higher test scores on state standardised tests (Akujobi and Simmons 1997; Morgan 2000), increased attendance (Follman 1998; O'Bannon 1999; Shumer 1994), academic interest (Stephens, 1995), school engagement (Melchior 1999), decreased dropout rates (Duckenfield and Swanson 1992), and stronger classroom task-engagement and skills (Stephens 1995). (Schmidt, Shumow, & Kackar, (2007).
One has to note that Schmidt, Shumow, & Kackar, (2007), "Most studies showing benefits of service have examined voluntary rather than required service. Evidence from some small local studies shows that many high school students engage in voluntary service (Hansen et al. 2003; McLellan and Youniss 2003), but few researchers have looked explicitly at required service. In a review article of school-based required service, Billig (2000) reported positive effects on personal/social development, civic responsibility, academic learning, career explorations and aspirations, atmosphere of the school and the community's perception of youth." (Schmidt, Shumow, & Kackar, 2007).
The procedures for this project are as follows. Before going out into the field to do service learning, a training session was provided for all adults involved in keeping each youth safe. An information handout was provided as well as a checklist of the visits along with a report. Each person understood each concept by means of the Power Point presentation.
This impact project will be developed and implemented based on the outcome of student intergenerational projects and knowledge gained through service learning. A handout and PowerPoint presentation will consist of researched-based ways this service learning enhances the students' understanding of local history and of the elderly as well as interpersonal communication general communication skills. The evaluation is in the form of qualitative surveys, which will consist of open-ended questions for each individual to provide valuable feedback for future use.
A debriefing session will occur upon the completion of this project for both the youth and the adults. Parents and their children are invited to attend at this time. This will take place in Robinson High School's auditorium at 7 p.m. As their facilitator, I will ask questions about their experience and remind everyone of the purpose on why this was put together for them. Each person is provided the opportunity to tell how this project impacted them for the positive or negative as well as provide feedback for future endeavors. Teaching Methods
The unit plan include pre and post-assessing student's beliefs and understanding about the elderly. This is considered a cross-curriculum project that involves history, social studies and communication. First, lesson plans and…