No, although many community service projects could be transformed into service-learning. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, four characteristics distinguish service-learning:
(1) Purpose: The students are aware that the project is connected to the curriculum and has learning outcomes.
(2) Action: The students are involved in a specific activity that addresses a community need.
(3) Reflection: Students reflect on the activity and its correlation to the curriculum and to core values.
(4) Celebration: At the conclusion of the activity, a celebration takes place to honor what the students have done.
For example, if the students visit a nursing home as a club activity and talk to the residents, it is community service. However, if it is part of a sociology unit in social studies or a unit on aging in health class and it intentionally reinforces the curriculum and contains the other three markers, it is service-learning.
Opportunities for service-learning abound in the curriculum. The Center coordinated the PACES Project (A Partnership for Advancing Character Education through Service-Learning) in which twenty schools over the course of two years worked together to develop quality service-learning projects that enriched character education. Sample PACES lesson plans are found in the Lesson Plan section.