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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Planning a Service Project

The Caribbean, Dominican Republic
Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Service Learning

Students will implement what they have learned about serving communities by planning and undertaking a community service project.


  • Students will apply what they have learned about service by designing and implementing service projects.
  • Students will brainstorm and come to consensus on five main projects.


Note to Teachers on Service-Learning: When you are working with your class to plan a service-learning project, there is a lot to think about before you jump in. Below are guidelines that may make your life easier.

Reality Check

  • How much time can you devote to the planning and implementation of the project?
  • How involved do you want your students to be?
  • Do you want to make a difference in your own community or in the world at large?
  • Do you want to work with an established organization?
  • Will students raise money? Give of their time, energy, and effort? A combination?
  • How will you tie the service project to your curriculum?

Range of Possibilities

  • Do a project in your school.
  • Do a project for younger students in another school.
  • Do a project in your community (team up with a local, a national, or an international service organization.)
  • Support the project of a Peace Corps Volunteer by working with the Peace Corps' Partnership Program.

Words to the Wise

  • A well-designed service-learning project can be the most meaningful thing you do all year.
  • It has the potential to reach deeply into the hearts and minds of your students for the rest of their lives.
  • You can do something for others or use the Peace Corps model of working with others.
  • Whatever you do will require careful planning.
  • The more responsibility students take on, the better.
  • Many parents will want to help.
  • It's worth all the effort.

Use the rubric for evaluating the quality of a service learning project. It can provide guidance to both you and your students. 

  1. Revisit with students the following key points:
    • We've thought about the common good?what it is and why it matters.
    • Community volunteers have shared their experiences with us.
    • We've conducted interviews in the community to learn more about how and why people serve?and why it matters.
    • We've looked at the ways that Peace Corps Volunteers have served and worked for the common good in the Dominican Republic.
    • We've thought about ways that we can make a difference as a class.
    • Now it's time for us to take action.
  2. Review the preliminary list the class generated in the previous lesson, Why Does Service Matter? Go over each item on the list and add the new ideas that students have come up with. This brainstorming process is important, because eventually students will need to come to consensus on a project that they feel they own.
  3. Ask students how they should best put to work their energy, talents, and desire to make a difference. How can they make a difference in their school or our community? Remind them of the ideas they came up with at the end of the culture unit on how to increase understanding and respect across cultural groups in the school.
  4. Tell students that once they have come to consensus on a project they would like to take on as a class, they will be engaging in a process called service learning. Provide students with the following definition of service-learning: a method that combines academic instruction, meaningful service, and critical reflective thinking to enhance student learning and civic responsibility.
  5. Explain to students that quality service-learning projects meet these criteria:
    • They meet actual community needs.
    • They are coordinated in collaboration with the community.
    • They are integrated into the academic curriculum.
    • They facilitate active student reflection.
    • They help students use new skills and knowledge in real-world settings.
    • They help develop a sense of caring for and about others.
    • They improve the quality of life for the person(s) served.
  6. Afterward, explain that planning a service-learning project involves these four steps:
    • Assessing school or community needs
    • Planning a project that addresses the needs
    • Implementing the project
    • Reflecting on what you've learned and evaluating results
  7. Point out to students that they now have a list of projects they might like to undertake and a list of criteria for them. Ask students to look at the list of projects and think about the importance of the needs each option addresses.
  8. Give each student a list of the projects the class has proposed and ask the students to do the following: On a scale of 1 to 10, indicate how urgent and important the need is for each project. The numbers 1?3 indicate low; 4?7 indicate moderate; 8?10 indicate a high sense of urgency and importance.
  9. Ask for volunteers to count the responses and come up with an urgency and importance tally for each option. Then eliminate ideas that have low scores and retain the rest.
  10. Review each item with a high score, and have a class discussion of the pros and cons of each proposed project. Honor all opinions expressed because the final choice will need to have the support of all.
  11. Conduct a second round of scoring on the remaining items. There will usually be one or two projects that clearly stand out. Ask the class to discuss the remaining two or three options and come to consensus on the one project they think would meet an urgent and important school or community need. (In some cases, students may want to do an individual service-learning project, or one with a partner.)
  12. Once the class has decided on a project, there are many resources on project planning you can use. Useful websites to visit for service-learning project planning are include the Corporation for National & Community Service. You will find detailed guidelines, examples of projects, and links to other service-learning sites.
  13. Make special note of the service-learning criteria having to do with facilitating active student reflection.
  14. Share with students the following ideas for reflection during the project, and once the project is completed, be sure they understand that reflection and documentation are parts of the process. Some ideas to facilitate student reflection:
    • Put together an album about the project containing photos, drawings, and writing.
    • Write letters to the people you worked with or for about the meaning of the project and what you learned.
    • Put together a video of the project and write a narration for it.
    • Visit other classes in your school to share what you accomplished and learned.
    • Share what you accomplished and learned with the PTA/PTO.
    • Write an article for your local newspaper about the project.
  15. Give students a copy of the Culminating Performance Task for the service unit (see Extensions). Explain each item with examples.
  16. Let your students know that once they have carefully planned, implemented, and reflected on their service-learning project, they will have played an important part in forging another link in the common bond of humanity.


Frameworks & Standards

Essential Questions

  • How far are we willing to go to make a difference?
  • What can we do to support the common good in our school, neighborhoods, or community? 


Note to the Students: Below you will find a description of the performance task that will give you the opportunity to apply what you've learned in a real-world setting

Goal: To apply what you have learned about service in a real-world context. To give you the opportunity to demonstrate that you have mastered the enduring understandings of this unit.

Role: You are a community volunteer.

Audience: The people you serve in your project—and the people with whom you share your reflections at the end of the project.

Situation: There are human needs in every school, neighborhood, and community that go unmet every day. Without the generosity of volunteers, most of these needs would never have a chance of being met. This service-learning project will provide you the rare opportunity to learn—not from a textbook—but in the real world.

Product: A completed service-learning project in which you assess needs, design a project plan that is related to a topic in your curriculum, implement the project, and actively reflect on and evaluate the results.

Standards for Success: Your project will be judged against the criteria provided in the Service-Learning Rubric on Worksheet #6 (link above). These criteria:

  • Meets actual school or community needs.
  • Is planned and coordinated in collaboration with the people being served.
  • Relates to the academic curriculum.
  • Facilitates active student reflection.
  • Uses new academic knowledge and skills in a real-world setting.
  • Helps develop a sense of caring for and about others.
  • Improves the quality of life for the person(s) served.


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