Wayfinder Learning Lab

"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.


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Designing a Service Learning Cycle

Note (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.

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If you’ve been following this blog (or i-Biology.net), 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).

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

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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]

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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).