My Voice is the name of Need in Deed's service-learning process, a dynamic teaching strategy that engages young people in hands-on learning about social problems and issues relevant to their lives. The process has been honed and fine-tuned over the past 23 years. Teachers who have used My Voice tell us the process helps them see students in a new light. It brings teaching and learning to life.
What is My Voice?
My Voice is a process of self-discovery, reflection, research and action that connects the classroom with the community. It is a service-learning approach that starts with kids. It calls on them to use their gifts and talents to speak out or act on behalf of others.
My Voice encourages active, hands-on learning, and it integrates reflection on real-world problems (hunger, homelessness, gun violence) with the curriculum. In short, it is a powerful way for students to learn more about the world while building their sense of purpose and capability.
What distinguishes My Voice from most other approaches to service-learning is our focus on student choice. We begin by asking students "Who are you?" and "What combination of gifts and talents makes you who you are?"
Then we switch gears and ask "What issues affect you the most?" and "What would you like to change in your community?" The simple act of asking students, engaging them in the identification of the social issue, has power. The conversation itself ignites motivation.
The acronym VOICE outlines the five steps in the process.
- V — Value your voice:
Students recognize their gifts and talents and then decide on a broad issue for their service-learning project.
- O — Open the issue:
Students use a variety of resources to explore the causes and effects of their issue and select one they would like to address through service.
- I — Identify your objective:
Students use a variety of resources to learn more about their chosen cause or effect and determine how they would like to address it through service.
- C — Conduct meaningful service:
Students conduct meaningful service that addresses a cause or effect of their issue.
- E — Evaluate and celebrate:
Students evaluate their efforts and celebrate their success.