Procedures For Teachers

PrepPreparing for the lesson
StepsConducting the lesson
ExtensionAdditional Activities


Media Components

R&E videos connected to segments listed below.

Computer Resources

  • computers with Internet access
  • LCD projector and projection screen

Print Resources


Bornstein, David. HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS AN THE POWER OF NEW IDEAS. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.


Terry, Alice and Jann Bohnenberger. HOW ADOLESCENTS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE REAL WORLD. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 2007.

Media Resources

RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY DVD: GLOBAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE: STORIES FROM RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY. To request a copy of this free DVD, e-mail your mailing address and school affiliation to

Web Resources




    Boston College: Volunteer and Service Learning Center
    Assists Boston College students, staff, and faculty who want to serve in the greater Boston area.Campus Compact
    “FAQ — “What Is Service Learning?”
    Piece about service learning, including links to other resources.

    Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement
    Nonpartisan research center at the University of Maryland focused on the study of civic and political participation of young Americans.

    City Year
    An organization founded in 1988 on the belief that young people in service could be a powerful civic resource for addressing the nation’s most pressing issues.

    Corporation for National and Community Service
    Through a variety of national programs, the corporation seeks to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.

    “How to Make Service Into Service Learning”
    Article that describes how to incorporate volunteerism/community service into classroom instruction/curriculum.

    iLEAP: The Center for Critical Service
    Program that creates and inspires social change in the United States and around the world through international service learning programs.

    Learn and Serve America’s National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
    Supports the service-learning community in higher education, kindergarten through grade 12, community-based initiatives, and tribal programs, as well as all others interested in strengthening schools and communities using service-learning techniques and methodologies.

    Learning in Deed
    Aims to make service learning a teaching strategy that combines service and classroom instruction.

    Learning to Give
    Lesson plans, activities, and resources educating youth about the power of philanthropy and empowering them to make a difference in their school, community, and the world.

    National Service-Learning Partnership
    National network of members dedicated to advancing service learning as a core part of every young person’s education.

    National Youth Leadership Council
    Program that promotes and develops student service learning programs in schools and communities.

    New Horizons for Learning: Service Learning
    Introduction to and resources for service learning.

    Roots and Shoots
    Global youth-driven program that makes “change happen” via a network connecting youth of all ages who share a common desire to help make our world a better place.

    Teaching Central
    “What Is Service Learning?”
    Article that defines and outlines service-learning components.

    Youth Service America
    Resource center that partners with thousands of organizations committed to increasing the quality and quantity of volunteer opportunities for young people.



  • student graphic organizers (detailed in lesson)
  • chart paper and markers
  • teacher documents (detailed in lesson)

Teacher Preparation

Preview the lesson plan’s R&E videos and related online content before presenting them to your class. Decide whether the class will view the entire video or select specific segments (others than those noted in the lesson) to expand lesson concepts and topics.

Bookmark relevant Web sites on each computer in your classroom, and/or create a handout that lists recommended sites and resources that supplement the lesson; or upload all links to an online bookmarking utility, such as, so that students can access the information on these sites. Make sure that your computer has the necessary media players, like RealPlayer or Windows Media Player, to show streaming clips (if applicable).

Be familiar with what service learning is and how it is different from simply volunteering or participating in community service. Please read Teaching Central, May 2006, “What Is Service Learning?”, which provides background, examples, and service-learning components. This lesson’s Culminating Activity emerges from these elements. The last two sections of the article’s featured chart speak to student reflection and project evaluation, two items that require teacher consideration.


Introductory Activity: Exploring Altruism
(two to three classroom periods)

Post all or some of the quotations listed on Quotations. Do locate and add others. Ask students to move about the classroom to read the sayings and as they do, to take note of the common messages they deliver. Once students have completed their quotation round, have them return to their seats to write a brief analysis of the quotations’ messages. Invite students to share their thoughts.

Extend student thoughts to an introduction of altruism. Have students — based on what they took from the quotes — define the term and then discuss what it means to do things for others. Particularly, have the students explore the various shapes altruism can take, from volunteerism to activism. Point out its significance in religion and spirituality, as well as in democracy: civic responsibility as a citizen.

Distribute the Altruism Survey to students. Review the survey instructions with them. Give students about 15-20 minutes to survey as many of their peers as possible about their involvement in or knowledge of service to others, causes, etc. Announce “time” for students to end the survey and begin to analyze their findings. Pair students to compare and contrast their findings and come to consensus based on the survey categories. Invite each group to share their thoughts; have the class discuss what it means to give service, as well as the motivation for and the impact of such engagement.

Tell students they will build on their understanding of service and altruism as they watch the R&E segment “Altruism”. Instruct them to identify where the film reflects their understanding of service and where it raises additional thoughts and/or questions. (Students may watch the film as a class or in small groups.) The following questions can guide post-viewing discussion:

  1. What is considered an altruistic act? What shape do such acts come in?
  2. What drives altruism?
  3. What do people expect when they “do good” for others, for a cause, etc.?
  4. What are altruism’s benefits, for the recipient and the giver?

Activity 1: The Shape of Service
(two classroom periods)

Invite students to reflect on what they already know about altruism.

Divide students into groups to discuss their service experiences (personal or knowledge of others or even service organizations; other terms to use are volunteering or community service). Invite the groups to report to the class on the various types of service activities there are, based on group discussions; as a class, have students categorize/classify the variety. (The goal is to note that service comes in many shapes and forms; can emerge from religions, civic, volunteer, and related efforts; can involve serving people or places; can promote a cause or idea or law, etc.)

Divide students into triads. Assign each team the following R&E film groupings to watch (two or more groups may have similar film sets, depending on the number of students in the class). Instruct the students to:

  • Write a brief synthesis of each film, with emphasis on the service provided and the audience served.
  • Note the motives behind the work undertaken, as featured in each film.
  • Note the impact of the service on the recipient and the “giver.”
  • Compare and contrast the motives and impact underscored in each film.
  • Discuss whether service learning should be a requirement for graduation from the students’ school.

Invite each group to present its synthesis and what motivates the participants in the project, as well as the impact of their efforts. Have the other groups compare each presenting group’s project findings, with regard to the service project, with their own. For example, are the motives for service similar or different?

Activity 2: Service to Service Learning
(one to two classroom periods)

Reconvene Activity 1 film groups. Instruct the teams to discuss what lessons emerge from the films they have viewed, and then to consider how they might incorporate these lessons/concepts/ideas into the classroom. For example, what subject areas connect with the films? What can they elaborate on in their academic learning? What academic activities might be derived from the films?

Introduce the concept of service learning. Have students offer definitions; if they are already involved in service learning efforts, invite them to describe what those are. Have students read and discuss “Get Out and Make a Difference”. Ask students to specifically note the “learning” aspect of the projects undertaken and their impact/results.

Show students “Teen Hospice”. After the film, discuss with students how volunteer motivations underscored in this film differ from those in the other R&E segments. Note how student attitudes change once they have begun meeting with hospice residents. Have the class consider ways this volunteer effort could become a service-learning project.

Culminating Activity: Action Into Learning
(two to three classroom periods; extended time period if students implement and conduct service-learning projects)

Distribute Service Learning Components. Review the elements with students.

Have students do one of the following.

    Option 1: Explore existing service-learning projects in their school and select one in which they might participate. (This requires partnering with another class or students becoming involved in an extracurricular/after-school effort.) Students can work with each other, the instructors, and the organization served to enhance the project’s learning component, using the Service Learning Components as a guide/framework.

    Option 2: Identify and explore community-based service projects; have the class select one with which it would like to become involved and turn it into a class-based service-learning project, again creating a framework derived from Service Learning Components.

Students may simply design a project outline to describe existing projects or create and implement an ongoing project derived from their outline. For the latter, create reflection and evaluation tools.

Extension Activities

Students can:

  • Interview students from other schools who are engaged in service-learning projects to learn either how to begin/enhance a like project in their school or to gauge the impact of select projects on student experiences, learning and otherwise.
  • Create a directory of community-based service projects in which students might want to become involved. The directory requires research, outreach, and writing a comprehensive, annotated product.
  • Research and document the impact of service learning on students’ academic achievement and career and college readiness nationwide. Students write an analysis of service learning in this context.