_How do students experience community service learning in second grade?
_ As standardized testing plays a larger role in education, students are struggling to articulate why they are learning something and how it applies to other people. My study investigated how 23 second-grade students at Finney Elementary School, a public school in Southern California, experienced community service learning, which I defined as servicing other communities with what is learned in the classroom. By engaging in several community service learning projects and analyzing student surveys, journals, work samples, exit cards, observations, and classroom discussions, I was able to illuminate the many benefits of connecting student learning with the world beyond the classroom doors. I found community service learning assisted my students in frequency and quality of peer collaboration, building empathetic and helpful relationships with members of other communities, increasing engagement and participation in the classroom, and understanding the purpose of their learning and how it applied to real world situations. Community service learning also helped students increase writing proficiency and fluency, articulate reflective thoughts, and develop positive self-esteem. These findings indicate that community service learning is a beneficial instructional strategy that supports student growth academically and emotionally, as well as helping them see the relevance of their work in the classroom.