Service-Learning Research at a School Library

The Urban School of San Francisco School Library

School librarians play an important role in young people's civic development. Sarah Levin, a school librarian at Urban School in San Francisco, CA, folded the Ten Questions framework into her service-learning curriculum, which focuses on critical civic literacy.

At Urban School, Ms. Levin helped 11th-graders conduct service-learning research, a project that began with Identity and Ethnic Studies in 9th grade. Using the Ten Questions, students articulated their own values and applied them to their civic research.

Ms. Levin invited students to think about the core issues that mattered to their lives in terms of Question #1: Why does it matter to me? The chosen included gun control in San Francisco, the National Endowment for the Arts, military spending, Dutch Islamophobia, healthcare for seniors, and homelessness.

Then, in Question #3: How do I make it about more than myself?, she encouraged her students to understand their issue more holistically, by having them consider opposing viewpoints or find think tanks or publications with viewpoints different from their own. In Question 4: Where do we start? she introduced her students to research and media consumption as the first step of activism. As to #6 and #7: How do we get wisdom from crowds? and How do we handle the downside of crowds?, her students learned to talk about confirmation bias as media consumers.

urbanschool-library

For the research part of the service-learning curriculum, Ms. Levin selected four or five questions from the Framework. For the action part, which would constitute a senior project, she planned to integrate all Ten Questions, so that students could produce concrete action plans such as fundrasing, a protest or march, a performance, etc. She also thought that the Ten Questions Framework would work well in other classes in her school, including a senior independent study course, art courses like graphic design, video production, and art as a daily practice, extracurricular opportunities like Community Outreach Club and White Privilege Awareness Club, and history courses.

To support a student research and action project, Ms. Levin provided a resource page about the Ten Questions Framework on her school library website: Service Learning Research – Action (see image).