Designing a Service Learning Cycle

MYP Service Learning OutcomesNote (March 2018): This 2014 post is a few years old now, and the Service Learning Cycle is gathering momentum in the school in its use by students for service learning. The current working version is at the end of the post. I’ll leave the body of the post as-is; it was an interesting process. For some other Design Cycle-inspired cycles: Personal Project, Professional Inquiry, MYP Experimental, IBDP IA, PHE, Standardization.

Note (June 2018): Working on one for PYP now as well, as way to connect PYP “agency” to MYP Service Learning, through student-led action (such as for #PYPx) based on design principles.

Note (May 2019): Added simple outcomes graphic (see right, click for pdf). How well known are the seven learning outcomes of service in your school?


If you’ve been following this blog (or, you’ll know I’m on a cycle diagram frenzy, using Google Drawings to make and customise cycle diagrams from the MYP guides, inspired by the Design Cycle. Meanwhile, the idea of Design Thinking in schools as a process for problem-solving and authentic inquiry has been gaining traction in education and we are starting to see more ambitious Design class projects surface here at school. It is an encouraging time – as we gain competence in the new MYP, more ideas are starting to surface from teachers about how we move forwards.

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At the same time, I’ve been working with our super-inspirational Service Learning Coordinator on student learning expectations against the learning outcomes for service for each MYP stage. We got to the point that we figured we should gather what we know from various sources (including the MYP support documents and Cathryn Berger Kaye’s Complete Guide to Service Learning) and put it into a cycle diagram – to apply the Design Cycle to Service Learning. This might be something we adapt and apply throughout the school as a protocol for service as action. This is an early draft, but I welcome feedback and ideas in the comments below. The second image in the slideshow is a service learning cycle developed by Berger-Kaye, which is explained on the ECSL website here.

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In the greater context, we have been framing the value of the Global Contexts recently as the driving force in the MYP that makes a good backwards-designed curriculum into an authentic and explicitly international education. Through knowledge and skills students develop conceptual understandings, which the global contexts help us to shape into meaningful, pragmatic inquiry (critical, reflective, consequence-oriented thought), resulting in action (including service), leading to international mindedness (a state of mind) and global engagement (behaviours). Meaningful action arises in conjunction with cultural competence. Through all this, we hope to develop the IMaGE of our learners.

As the pieces fall into place through curriculum and professional development, as well as gradual cultural change, we are poised to put the service learning cycle in a more prominent central role in our educational experience.

This is an attempt to connect the elements of the MYP framework with Action (of which Service is a subset), leading to International Mindedness and Global Engagement (IMaGE).
This is an attempt to connect the elements of the MYP framework with Action (of which Service is a subset), leading to International Mindedness and Global Engagement (IMaGE).


Here’s Cathy Berger Kaye presenting to the IB Americas’s Conference, in 2012.


Update: 2016

Here we added some level expectations, based on ATL skills, connected to the Outcomes. The idea here is that as students plan and reflect on their Service Learning, they are addressing these goals in a balanced, sustained and meaningful way. It’s not pretty, but it’s a toolkit.

Service Learning Cycle & Expectations Poster [CA 2015]


Edits & Corrections

[Dec 16 2014] Removed hyphens from Cathryn Berger Kaye’s name (apologies!) and updated her service learning cycle image with the current version, from CBK Associates (pdf).



13 responses to “Designing a Service Learning Cycle”

  1. Cathryn Berger Kaye Avatar

    I always appreciate forward thinking and how you add much to the conversation through these combined visuals. Very exciting to consider and I will l look at these more. There are a few nuances I will think about and perhaps we can communicate by email? I can be reached at And an updated description of the Service Learning Cycle can be found at: (a few changes made in the descriptors — I will also have it updated on the ECSL website). Looking forward to our continued conversation! (also — no hyphen in my last name!)

    1. Stephen Avatar

      Thank-you for the comment and support, Cathy – will follow-up by email. Your work has been an inspiration to us so far.

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  4. Carrie Turunen Avatar
    Carrie Turunen

    Dear Stephen,

    We are just starting to work on integration of service learning into our MYP curriculum and your service learning cycle and expectations for MYP are awesome! Would you be possible to get an e-copy of these resources?


  5. Lydia Avatar

    Dear Stephen,

    I LOVE your Service Learning Cycle. It has been extremely helpful in framing the process with students. Also connecting the PP skills to the SL skills.

    Could I also ask for a copy?

    Many thanks,


    1. Stephen Avatar

      Hi Lydia – thanks for your comment! You can get a pdf version here:

    2. Stephen Avatar

      Hi Lydia – sure, if you click the links above, you should be able to open a version in GoogleDrive and then make a copy.

      1. Lydia Avatar

        Brilliant! Thanks a million. So helpful 🙂

  6. shane Lewis Avatar
    shane Lewis

    Hi there Lydia,
    I hope you don’t mind me using this picture. It reflects exactly where the school is at the moment in terms of service and I am prepared to work further on it if you need help in the future as payment fir its use.

    Shane Lewis Teleborg World school Sweden

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  9. Mina Hosseini Avatar
    Mina Hosseini

    Hi Thankyou so much for this! The pdf in the google drive needs access, I would appreciate it if you could grant me access! Thankyou

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