Last year when the Points of Light Institute, generationOn awarded me the Teacher’s Aid Program Grant to build a technology component into our Speech & Language Therapy program, I committed to utilizing five generationOn service-learning lesson plans with my students. Learning to Give is a youth service organization under the Points of Lights/ generationOn parent organization, that educates youth about the importance of philanthropy, the civil society sector, and civic engagement. The Learning to Give website offers over 1,600 K-12 lesson plans and educational resources. It is theirs mission is to foster a greater sense of community and social responsibility in young people through volunteerism and giving. One of the things I love about their site, is that they coded each lesson plan to a state standard (you can even look up your individual state for their specific curriculum standards), which means you can easily fit a service learning project into any aspect of your curriculum. You can address the grade level curriculum standards while connecting students to their community, cultivating empathy and building awareness around the critical impact of volunteerism on society.
These lesson plans work especially well for Speech Therapy in the school setting. First, many of lesson plans are literacy-based, so based on your student’s IEP goals, you can target a variety of skills. You can always start with a picture walk through of the book and have students predict what will happen in the story, go over key concepts before reading the story, include new vocabulary on your word walls, pause frequently to ask questions, check for comprehension, talk about how the characters are feeling and what motivates them to act the way they do. Furthermore, the goal of any Speech & Langauge therapy is to help kids (or adults) be the most functional and effective communicators they can be. Evidence-based practice indicates that a natural, meaningful context for communication is most effective for generalization of targeted skills. Service-learning provides a wonderful opportunity to place students in meaningful communication contexts.
At PS20, some of our 2nd grade speech students read a book that illustrates how responsible citizens participate in their communities. We read the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney and after identifying, describing and sequencing the behaviors of the main character, we extended the story to our own lives and brainstormed ways that we could make the world more beautiful. Students picked one idea from a list they generated to elaborate on and illustrate.
Teachers and Speech Therapists alike definitely check out the Learning to Give site. I can guarantee you’ll find some great lesson plans to incorporate into any unit of study in addition to monthly project ideas and a ton of other resources. Let me know what you end up using! I’d love to hear how these lessons are supplementing curriculum standards to foster a greater sense of social responsibility in your classrooms.