Service Learning is part of the high school and even some middle school regular curricula. However, many elementary educators feel that their students are too young to serve or to lead, plus need the school day time taken up with rigorous multidisciplinary skills learning. Ironically, children are never too young to serve and in serving they make rigorous learning skills authentic.
How can children serve and through service inculcate rigorous learning skills?
Using their Chromebooks in their classrooms, they can probe issues that concern their peers and community online, in print and on air (otherwise known as Common Core ELA/SS close reading, listening and discussion). They can then share their perspectives and reactions to these news events- such as school law issues, immunization, school closings, bullying, student suspensions and more- on Google supported docs/blogs, the school website or in posters they create using graphics or the photos feature for school, mall or neighborhood. If they do only that following a teacher assigned or better yet student issue a week, they have authenticated research, argument, visual learning on display, collegial conversation and collaboration and more in a real student owned way. Plus, while their work and message is out in the school community and world beyond them, they have never left their classroom site or lost invaluable elementary learning time inn commute elsewhere.
If they interview family, friends or shoppers in the stores close to their school neighborhood and record their interviews using speech to text or the audio or video capacities of the Chromebook, they have participated in the conversation of American values that is the essence of citizenship, plus real experienced speaking and listening skills beyond the artificial arena of the school community.
Beyond the elementary school site- Chromebook supported Community Service= Serving and Documenting Go Together
Beyond talking about issues and writing about them in and around their school plus posting on blogs or websites, elementary school students are never too young to peaceably take their responses to local issues such as library closings or cutting of afterschool activities budgets or dangerous amusement park ride concerns to the streets or bridges or park demonstration sites of their community. They are at the right age to experience the sense of solidarity and pride that are part and parcel of marching shoulder to shoulder with peers carrying their own posters perhaps created using Google graphics, photos and imported fonts on their Chromebooks or wearing their own tee shirt designs with their rescue the library or put more in budget slogans and visuals. Their Chromebooks are portable and rugged enough to go with them to document and perhaps capture interviews with adult citizens at these peaceable protests or student reflections as they serve. Elementary students are at the right age to attend and if they want to speak on community forums about library closings, water pollution, asbestos inspections, sports budgets and more. Using the Chromebook, they can record selected testimonies or their reportorial comments. If they indicate at the start or closing of a petition that the signees are elementary students and not yet voters, they too can draw up the text of a petition to local elected or appointed officials and can deliver it in person to government agencies if they desire. They can use Chrome to research the format and style of sample petitions on local issues created by other sites and successfully submitted elsewhere to model their petition. They can make a pdf or Google doc of the petition and have community approved by their teacher get it online and react to it. In doing any or all the above students are fully epitomizing and validating all aspects of mandated speaking and listening as well as researching and using a mix of graphics and information to create powerful visual and verbal arguments for perspectives with supporting details. They are engaging in small group and large group interactions and learning specific persuasive argument genres such as petition format and bloc design. Plus, they are proactively helping to inform the public about a library closing or a neighborhood health concern.
While a group of concerted elementary students cannot stop pollution singlehandedly, with a few collections around their school building they can clear away and bag plastics or clean up a block for at least a day or two or generate a circular or multilingual poster to alert newcomers or Non-English speaking to pollution, local safety, health or other pressing needs. Chromebooks can share video or still photos of this experience to inspire others. Will this neighborhood effort transform and inform the entire US? No. Will it make a small appreciable difference for the good in the students’ neighborhood? Yes!!!
Education for citizenship does not have to postponed until middle school where it can be an elective or high school where it is sometimes required. Elementary education which includes Chromebook Google features supported close research and analysis of local funding, living, health, school, library, housing and recreation issues, can immediately tap speaking, listening, reading, writing, knowledge and conventions of English as well as introduction to careers and college (designing, marketing, communications, public relations, government) mandates early and authentically ELA, Citizenship, Empathy and Social Responsibility Skills. Students are never too young to learn that citizenship is elementary for making our neighborhoods and world appreciably better, one child’s Chromebook supported service learning project at a time. Education for citizenship is citizenship as part of real world elementary education. Real marches, real posters, real meeting participation, real petitions, real clean ups=real citizens.
Heater, Derek Benjamin. (2004). A Brief History of Citizenship. London: Oxford University Press.
Keenan, Edward. (2015). The Art of the Possible. Toronto, Owlkid Books.
MacGregor, Mariam. (2013). Building Everyday Leadership in All Kids. Minn: Free Spirit Press.
Zugeveder, Bryan S. (2014). I Learned to Lead in Kindergarten.
YA and Children’s Literature books dealing with and portraying children and young adults as leaders are cited on
Among those children’s literature and young adult literature authors cited are:
Joan Bauer, Hope Was Here. (Middle School and Beyond).
Doreen Cronin –Duck for President.
Susan E. Goodman-See How They Run. (Middle School).
Dan Gutman. The Kid Who Ran for President. (Middle School)
Johanna Hurwitz. Class President. (Middle School).
Deborah Newton. NEATE to the Rescue. (Middle School).
Sylvan Sobel. President Elect and Other Cool Facts.
About Sector 5,
Sector 5, Inc. (OTCQB: SFIV), is a Proud American Corporation, that sells, manufactures and develops new innovative consumer electronics under Sector 5 and other brands. The Company markets its partnership with Google approved Chromebooks to educational organizations, other B2B and B2C sales channels, with retail sales on Amazon. It is in development of several new products to serve the educational, business and retail markets. Follow the company on www.twitter.com/sectorfiveinc and www.facebook.com/sect5 and find further information at www.sector-five.com. For Sector 5’s Forward Looking Statements, click here.