The Service-Learning Initiative of Chicago Public Schools supports the implementation of the student service-learning graduation requirement. The following guidelines are currently in place to guide our work.
The following definition for service-learning serves as a guiding framework in Chicago Public Schools:
Service-learning is a teaching strategy that connects classroom curriculum with service projects. Service-learning engages students in projects that serve the community while building social, civic, and academic skills.
Service-learning is a pedagogical strategy, not an outcome. Service-learning is an opportunity for students to learn 21st century skills through project development, implementation, and reflection: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, and Creativity. Research demonstrates when students participate in high quality service-learning we see positive academic, social/emotional, and civic outcomes.
Stages of Service-Learning
In order to qualify as a service-learning project, a service experience must include the following components:
- Preparation - Students prepare for their service by learning about the issue, building their skills, and developing an action plan for service.
- Action - Students engage in meaningful service by working on a project that will make a difference in their community and is tied to their classroom curriculum.
- Reflection - Teachers enable students to analyze and make sense of their experience through discussion, journaling, and presentation opportunities.
Each school will develop a strategy to ensure that all students can fully participate in three service-learning projects during their years in high school. We encourage schools to offer a combination of Classroom-Integrated Service Projects and Supported Independent Projects. The Department of Literacy recommends Classroom-Integrated Service Projects as being very appropriate for freshmen and sophomores and Supported Independent Projects as being more appropriate for juniors and seniors.
Service-Learning Project Approval
All service-learning projects and experiences must be pre-approved by the school's Service-Learning Coach. Teachers and other faculty should complete the attached Service-Learning Project Certification. Service-learning credit will not be granted for projects that have not been pre-approved.
Service-Learning Practice Standards
Service-learning projects should meet the following standards of excellent practice:
- Youth Voice
- Meaningful Service
- Curriculum Integration
- Community Partnerships
- Progress Monitoring
- Duration and Intensity
For more detailed information about the service-learning standards, please visit the following website: http://nylc.org/sites/nylc.org/files/wisl/index.html#mainNavLinks=2
At the completion of each classroom-integrated service-learning project, teachers should administer a brief project assessment for students to complete. The project assessment form enables both the teacher and the District to gain an understanding of the student experience during the service-learning project and can be downloaded a www.servicelearning.cps.k12.il.us/Forms.html.
The Department of Literacy has service-learning project exemplars, curriculum and resources available for teachers and schools at http://servicelearning.cps.k12.il.us/Curriculum.html. Professional development opportunities for schools and individual teachers are also available for planning, design, implementation, and assessment purposes. Please contact Jon Schmidt at 773.553.6391 or firstname.lastname@example.org to request a professional development session.
All students must complete three service-learning projects (minimum engagement of 40 hours of service) that include classroom integrated preparation, action, and reflection components. All sophomores are required to complete at least one project in order to be promoted to junior status.
Allowable Service Activities
The following service-learning activities can fulfill the graduation requirement:
The Board of Education places top priority on classroom-integrated service-learning project where a community need is identified and met as classroom learning goals are achieved. Service-learning credit (preparation, action, reflection) can be earned during the school day for classroom-based service activities.
Restricted Service Activities
Students may not earn service-learning credit through the following:
- Work with for-profit businesses and corporations
- Work with religious organizations if the service involves promoting a particular faith
- Volunteer work where no academic objective is addressed
- Work that is financially reimbursed
Students may not earn hours for the following specific activities:
- Participation in a sports team or other extra-curricular activity unless that group designs a service-learning project that contains the components listed above
- Assisting a teacher (i.e. correcting papers, cleaning the classroom)
- Artistic performances unless students are involved in creating a project that includes a performance as an outcome of the project
- Attending a training or other educational event unless that training leads directly to a service project.
Please review the service-learning recommendations from the Golden Apple Class of 2001.
For more information, contact the Service-Learning Coach or school principal in your neighborhood or Jon Schmidt, Manager, Democracy Learning and Student Leadership at 773/553-6391 or by email at email@example.com.