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About SL

What Community Service Is…and is Not

Service-Learning IS
Service-Learning MUST
Service-Learning IS NOT
Components of High-Quality Service-Learning
Developing a Plan for Systemic Integration and Expansion of SL in a School or District

Service-Learning IS

Service-Learning (SL) is an instructional methodology or process that integrates community service as a tool for implementing curriculum frameworks. It has many faces and functions, which can include:

  • Students and teachers studying and working to improve a community problem or social issue

    Here's what it looks like in action:

    • a 10th grade chemistry class tackles a problem of lead paint poisoning in the community;
    • a social studies class investigates the reasons for decreased citizen voting and launches a voters registrations drive in the community;
    • a middle grade math class analyzes the patterns of waste disposal in the school and launches a school-wide recycling program, regularly monitoring participation and the savings to the school through reduced garbage collection fees.

  • Students and teachers helping town leaders or community agencies with gathering and analyzing information, or with educating the community on a pressing issue

    Here's what it looks like in action:

    • third graders survey town on waste oil disposal practices, analyze and present results, and work with the Conservation Commission to set up new waste oil disposal sites and educate the community on the new service;
    • a middle grade math class surveys local use of a "Meals on Wheels" program and provides findings to the responsible agency; and
    • an English Language Arts class teams up with a technology class to develop a brochure for a local food shelter to assist the agency with community education and fundraising.

  • Helping people directly while practicing/improving skills

    Here's what it looks like in action:

    • an elementary class partners with an elder day care center for regular visits which include reading, poetry writing, and discussion of history;
    • a 10th grade American History class visits a local veterans home to interview veterans about life during the Second World War and the depression;
    • a psychology class regularly visits a day care center and nursing home to investigate the validity of Erik Erickson's theories regarding the stages of life.

  • Cross-age tutoring or teaching

    Here's what it looks like in action:

    • an 11th grade geometry students develop lesson plans on basic geometric concepts using hands-on activities and implements them in local elementary classes;
    • a 3rd year Spanish class visits a local elementary class bi-weekly to teach children Spanish words and basic grammar;
    • a 10th grade English Language Arts class writes books for 3rd graders on the basic principles of English grammar.

  • Examining "Community" as a concept, answering the question "What constitutes a healthy community and what kind of community do we want to live in?"

    Here's what it looks like in action:

    Students research and hold a day-long community festival to celebrate the town and have students present their "concepts" of community before the assembled participants.

  • Teacher teams developing interdisciplinary or integrated curricula around a central problem, question or theme

    Here's what it looks like in action:

    • A 7th grade teacher team investigates and identifies vernal pools and certifies them as protected land with the state.
    • Science classes study the pools on-sites and through classroom research; math classes measure the size of pools and the distance between them;
    • Social studies classes look as the governmental process necessary to certify them at the state level;
    • English classes write articles for the local newspaper regarding the importance of protecting the endangered salamander or wood frogs.

  • Students using vocational and technical skills to help community residents or agencies in need

    Here's what it looks like in action:

    • Students construct museum exhibits;
    • Students winterize the homes of low-income elderly neighbors;
    • Students service cars for elderly citizens in town;
    • Students prepare and serve meals at a local homeless shelter.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006
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