International School Manila

Integrity - Service - Merit

Service Learning in Elementary School

Service-learning can be defined as a teaching method that includes service to others. With service-learning, students connect academic subjects, meet real community needs, become leaders who contribute ideas, make decisions, and solve problems, discover benefits for everyone involved, get to work with community partners, and develop as active members of society.  - Cathryn Berger Kaye, 2010

The roots of service learning in the Elementary School are deeply embedded in the fostering of empathy and the nurturing of connections with both people and the natural world. Through dispositional and transdisciplinary skill development, as well as service learning experiences, we aim to help our students develop significant, meaningful and reciprocally beneficial relationships with both nature and people. With ISM’s youngest learners and community, we aim to build the foundations necessary for our students to become lifelong sustainable and service-oriented global citizens.




Service learning involves applying learned skills and knowledge to authentic community needs. Access to service learning opportunities is multi-faceted. Students can access service learning through several different Service Learning Approaches including independent initiatives, classroom curriculum, school relationships and in cooperation with their families. Our major focus in the Elementary School is on relationships within the ISM Community, however, there are also opportunities for exploring relationships with our local service partners and the global community.  The Types of Service Learning are highly diverse in nature. In addition, we recognize that Foundations of Service Learning, such as empathy or a desire to help others, are built through the development of dispositions, knowledge, skills, and understandings.

*Please note that service learning initiatives are not limited to the examples provided. 


Service Learning Approaches

Class/Grade Level Community Service
When investigating a need that leads to a plan of action implemented over time, students develop perseverance and commitment. They observe how their ideas and actions build on the contributions of others to effect change. Their reflections may show deeper awareness and knowledge of social issues. 
-Grade 3 students collaborate to develop a hallway agreement
-During a unit on human rights, students share speeches with their peers
-Preschool students talk with other classes about how to care for flowers on the playground
ISM Community Service
Participating in meaningful service activities that benefit the ISM community. These are ideally reciprocal in nature and student-initiated.
-Students interview support staff on their role within the school within a unit linked to the concept of community and share videos with family and peers
-Older students partner with younger classes to help with projects
-Free Library on ES Playground established/run by students
Service Partner Community Service
Participating in service activities wherein relationships with Service Partners are developed and nurtured. These ideas are ideally reciprocal in nature and student initiated.
-Visiting a local orphanage and singing or playing games (as a continuation of an ongoing relationship)
-Saturday Family Service Events (rED Build)
-Experts from our Service Partner organizations come to teach us something or have a shared learning experience (i.e., KIndergarten Recycling Expo)
Outreach Service (Global and Local Initiatives)
Participating in service actions that involve organizations or initiatives that are not directly affiliated with the ISM community or our Service Partners. Students with personal initiatives must meet requirements to ensure authenticity and understandings of their actions. 
-Grade 2 creates collaborative artwork to donate to a pediatric hospital wing
-Monetary relief efforts after a typhoon (school-wide)
-Students create posters to help educate others about poverty in the Manila area
-Gathering and donating books to a local orphanage or service partner
-Students educate each other on endangered animals worldwide

Types of Service

Types of Service
Student interaction involves people, the environment or animals, and most often is reciprocal in nature or is built around previously established relationships with local service organizations.
-Family rED Build
-Interactions with ISM staff members to learn and grow from their experiences
-Kindergarten Expo - GK Staff teach students how to create recycled projects
-Service partners share musical performances with us and attend Art classes on weekends at our school
Though students do not see the recipients of the service, they have verified their actions will benefit the community or environment. 
-High school psychology students writing books for preschool students
-Organizing canteen initiatives to ensure waste is handled more effectively
-Having a book drive for a local children’s hospital, children have researched to find out which types of books are appropriate and needed
-Students organize a food drive after a unit on hunger and poverty
Students speak on behalf of a cause or concern to promote action on an issue of public interest. 
-Students presenting at an assembly on school issues
-Performing a play to advocate for a cause related to the environment
-Giving a speech within class to promote human rights
-Having a conversation with peers about shared environments and developing shared agreements for respectful usage
Students collect information through varied sources, analyse data, and report on a topic of importance in an attempt to impact change
-Students use and analyze data from service learning events to promote new initiatives
-Students collect data on lost items and problem solve to resolve the issue
-Connecting with different cultures to understand what opportunities may arise on topics such as migration, physical well being etc...

Foundations for Service Learning

-Knowledge, Skills, and Understandings
-Dispositions (Self-directed, Caring, Responsible, Ethical/Fair, Creative, Balanced)
-maintaining relationships over time,
-being polite and respectful with all members of community including teachers, teaching assistants, support staff or drivers, and administrative staff,
-modeling positive behaviours for peers, students and siblings,
-using common language involved in developing a growth mindset,
-exposing children to challenges in the world at large (i.e.,  poverty),
-encouraging and celebrating open-mindedness,
-sharing reading materials,
-awareness of others feelings or emotions,
-social thinking and empathy,
-becoming familiar with the host culture,
-respecting our school environment,
-taking care of our own things,
-and more!