An integral part of Seven Arrows’ curriculum and philosophy, service learning makes a positive contribution to communities and has become an increasingly prized pedagogical form. Service learning as a teaching method enriches and strengthens student learning in a number of important ways: it facilitates critical thinking and problem solving within the school and the community while also helping students master important curricular content as they make meaningful connections between what they are studying and its many applications. Most importantly, it builds moral character and a passion for actively giving to one’s community.
At Seven Arrows, service learning is integrated into the curriculum in every grade; a community service project that is related to an area of the curriculum is ongoing for the full school year.
Our kindergarteners are our “Pint Sized Heroes” who support a school-wide Red Cross blood drive each fall. They have also historically worked on a project with endangered animals, which is connected to their Stone Age unit in Global Cultural History. Finally, kindergartners collect and design blankets to then deliver to local homeless shelters.
The first grade class has two service learning projects that they work on during the year, both closely linked to their Global Cultural History and science curricula: the Seven Arrows monarch butterfly sanctuary (in collaboration with the educational group, Journey North) and ecology in our community both at school and in the Ballona Wetlands.
Second graders are our school’s “Keepers of the Earth,” a theme derived from their Global Cultural History curriculum that focuses on Native Americans, Incas and Mayans. They work with Heal the Bay as they integrate service learning with their language arts and science curricula based on ocean and marine animals.
Third grade students collaborate with seniors at Sunrise Assisted Living to obtain important information about the development of Los Angeles.
Fourth graders integrate language arts, drama and music with a project working with disabled children.
In fifth grade, students practice their written and spoken Spanish as they write to pen pals in Colombia and work with young Spanish speaking learners at a Westside elementary school.
Our sixth grade students divide into small groups and every group chooses a specific community service project for the year. The sixth graders plan, develop and carry out this service with the support of adult mentors and teachers.
Our school’s vision is to develop ethical leadership qualities in all our students by supporting them as they develop their own ideas and means of serving their community. Therefore, in addition to our service learning curriculum, we have an Ethical Leadership program that is purely student initiated and student driven.
Throughout the course of the year, individuals and small groups of students (from all grade levels) initiate community service projects supporting our community in ways that are of great importance to the project leaders. Not only do these young leaders have to submit a plan of action for project approval, they also market their projects at school and earn support from fellow students and parents. Examples of previous ethical leadership projects include: Beautifying Palisades Park, raising funds for terminally ill children at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, supporting orphans at an orphanage in Africa, and collecting coats for needy families. By sixth grade, every one of our students is expected to have led one community service project and to have acted as team members in other projects, too.