Service-Learning in Civic Education = SLICE

Service-learning as a teaching method for civic education is such a natural fit that some see the two terms as redundant. Democracies depend on voters with civic knowledge of history and government, and academic skills such as the ability to investigate, analyze, and deliberate about public issues. These skills, as well as the ability to work with others, grow through service-learning experiences.

So, with funding from United Parcel Service, NYLC has identified state-level service-learning coordinators in North Carolina and Georgia to work with K-12 teachers statewide who will develop, implement, and refine their own approaches to service-learning as a teaching method for civic engagement in a pilot program known as “SLICE.”

“We are excited to pilot the SLICE program in both Georgia and North Carolina,” said NYLC CEO Amy Meuers. “The program is designed to support educators and school leaders in engaging their students as active citizens while also developing the academic and 21st Century skills they need to succeed in college and career. The funding from UPS ensures that we can continue to support educators to successfully implement service-learning in classrooms.”

Through SLICE trainings mid-summer, teachers will learn NYLC’s backwards planning approach to developing units of study, rooted in the work of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. As educators implement and refine those units this fall, they will receive ongoing technical assistance from the two state-level service-learning coordinators who have  deep experiences in service-learning.

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 3.58.39 PMJustyn Knox, a former middle school social studies teacher and instructional facilitator in Raleigh, N.C., will lead that state’s SLICE program. With a background in both project-based learning and character education, she currently consults with the state’s Department of Instruction, running student leadership institutes, “un-conferences” on service-learning, the state’s “Schools of Character” initiative, and coordinating professional development initiatives such as SLICE.

Through SLICE, she will identify 15 teachers interested in developing service-learning and civic education units of study, for implementation and refinement this fall.

“I hope to build a cadre of teachers across the state who are experts, so that they can be the experts to teach others,” says Knox, who notes that pockets of service-learning in North Carolina are very strong.

She sees service-learning as addressing the “whole child” so SLICE fits well with the state’s emphasis character development, through which service-learning receives funding. “Students understand their value, their ability to give back — even those who don’t feel as if they have a voice,” she says. “Service-learning … also is important for what students learn as they give back.”

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Her colleague, Joe Feinberg, is an associate professor at Georgia State University and member of the National Council for the Social Studies Board of Directors, who will similarly recruit and support 15 teachers from across Georgia. A devotee of not only civic education and service-learning, but also simulation games, he taught high school civics, geography, economics, and history prior to his work in higher education with pre-service teachers and graduate students.

He sees the integration of civic education and service-learning as natural and says that “Service-learning makes you a more engaged citizen.”

For Feinberg and his Honors College students, this means digging into issues of homelessness in the neighborhoods of Georgia State, in downtown Atlanta. While other professors may advise their students not to interact with those who are experiencing homelessness, Feinberg asks for the opposite. “Students talk about how powerful and positive these experiences are for them.”

In particular, he is excited about the service-learning tie to backwards planning. “I’ve seen many schools and teachers go this way,” says Feinberg, “That NYLC is utilizing a current and strong approach to instruction tied to service-learning is a win-win.”

K-12 Teachers are welcome to either of the two FREE one-day trainings hosted by NYLC and designed to help educators integrate service-learning in civic engagement. Participants will learn how to plan and implement service-learning projects using the backwards planning approach, and the five-step inquiry-based “IPARD” cycle (investigation, planning and preparation, action, reflection, and demonstration of learning).

North Carolina SLICE Training:

WHEN: Wed., July 11, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Register by July 3, 2018.

WHERE: Knightdale High School of Collaborative Design, Knightdale, NC

North Carolina teachers can apply for $500 to support their integration of service-learning in civic education instruction this fall.

*Bring your device (laptop, iPad or tablet) to plan your service-learning inquiry project. Contact Justyn.Knox@dpi.nc.gov with questions.

Georgia SLICE Training:

WHEN: Mon., July 9, 2018, 9:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Register by July 2, 2018.

WHERE: Central Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins in Building W (Sonny Watson Health Sciences Building) Room 113 Quads A/C, 80 Cohen Walker Drive, Warner Robins, Ga., 31088.

Georgia teachers are eligible to apply for a $500 stipend to support their integration of service-learning in civic education instruction this fall.

*Bring your device (laptop, iPad or tablet) to plan your service-learning inquiry project. Contact jfeinberg@gsu.edu with questions.