The UNO Service Learning Academy (SLA) is working with UNO faculty, preschool through 12th grade (P-12) teachers, and community partners to creatively adapt service learning projects to remote learning. Service learning projects will be highlighted throughout the remote learning phase.
Student Voice Heard Online
The Teacher Education (TED) 8130: Language, Culture, and Power course paved the way for future success of remote and online service learning projects at UNO. In the 2020 Summer semester, the course uniquely combined direct and advocacy-based service learning through Zoom meetings to raise awareness about the intersection of language, culture, and power among youth in Omaha.
The service learning partnership between the Language, Culture, and Power course and the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands is longstanding. UNO students traditionally are paired with club students throughout the summer and participate in small group activities.
In 2020, the required remote nature of the course led UNO faculty member Sandra Rodriguez-Arroyo to meet with members of the UNO Service Learning Academy and leadership of the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands to work out logistics of transitioning the project online.
In conjunction to remote course instruction, 9 UNO student groups each led a 3-week series of Zoom meetings attended by middle and high school students across Omaha enrolled in the VOICE or Step-Up summer programs through the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands.
Each meeting allowed UNO students the opportunity to model remote classroom management while also hearing firsthand from youth about the implications of their perceived power and voice in their home, school, and community. UNO students were encouraged to integrate online tools or Zoom features in their lesson plans to provide an interactive remote experience for youth.
“[Online teaching] is such a challenging medium to work through but I was amazed by the conversations we were still able to have,” a UNO student said.
Throughout the 3-week Zoom series, UNO students successfully created open spaces for the middle and high school students to discuss and unpack current events affecting the lives of modern youth such as social isolation or civil unrest caused by the pandemic and racial injustices. Instructed by UNO students, club students created online word clouds, poetry, lyrical videos, dances, drawings, and short essays to channel their thoughts.
Initially perceived as a barrier to student engagement, the remote project ultimately stimulated creativity, fostered student leadership, and forged opportune mentor-mentee relationships even through an online platform.
During their final remote course session, UNO students presented virtual artifacts created by youth that showcased the project’s powerful impact.
Watch this video for live excerpts of the final presentations and an overview of the project.
Given the success of the service learning project, the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands is currently making plans to implement new lessons involving the intersection of language, culture, and power to their regular curriculum.
Learn more about the UNO Service Learning Academy
The UNO Service Learning Academy (SLA) works to support UNO faculty members to develop service learning courses in collaboration with community organizations, governmental agencies, and preschool through 12th grade (P-12) teachers.
What is service learning? Service learning is a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful, community-identified service.
Learn more about how the Service Learning Academy is responding during UNO's online and remote learning mode by visiting the UNO SLA Resource website.