7_3 Implementing Service Learning

Integrating Community Service Learning With School Culture

By Sheldon Berman

In an era of standards, accountability, and testing, community service learning (CSL) may seem distant from the mainstream of education reform. However, American education faces a challenge equal to that of student performance. Issues of civility, character, and respect have taken center stage in many schools and communities. Apathy about and disengagement from the social and political arena are at an all-time high among young people. In addition to raising performance standards that compare favorably with other countries, we need to develop in young people the concepts, skills, and sense of commitment that will revitalize our communities and our democracy.

Students benefit academically and socially from an education that integrates challenging academics with a commitment to creating a caring and civil community. This is not an either-or choice. By making community service learning an integral part of school culture, we can enrich our academic content and nurture an ethic of care and service in young people.

Community service learning tends to be relegated to second-class status in education reform because it is not implemented systemically. Too often, CSL is the private interest of one teacher or a group of teachers who create wonderful student projects that are disjointed from the larger improvement efforts pursued by their school or district. Alternatively, a school may become involved in a once-a-year fundraiser or activity in support of a good cause. These efforts are often fragmentary, and although they are beneficial in their own right, they reside on the fringe of education reform.

Community service learning is more than a singular event or activity. It is more than older children tutoring or assisting younger children and more than students raising money for a local food pantry or entertaining seniors during the holiday season. Although these are a part of the culture of service that must be present, true CSL means helping students make the connections between the subject material they are studying and issues in the larger world. It means tying CSL directly to the curriculum frameworks in each subject area. It means engaging students in action and reflection on important community, social, political, and environmental issues. It means thinking of students not as future citizens but as active members of their community. It means having students live the democratic process rather than simply teaching about democracy. Finally, it means providing CSL experiences marked by continuity, depth, and meaningfulness that are embedded in the curriculum and culture of the school.

We have learned a great deal from the systemic education reform efforts in mathematics and science. In these subject areas, reform has meant a deep rethinking of our goals, content, and instructional strategies in order to develop depth in understanding and reasoning. In mathematics, we now direct our attention to helping young people develop number sense and understand the power of mathematical thinking. In science, we direct our attention to active engagement in scientific investigations so that students come to understand natural systems and the methods of scientific problem solving.

Like reform in mathematics and science, reform in social studies and in education in general means rethinking our goals. No matter what discipline, the central motivation for reform is that we want to enable young people to be powerful thinkers and to think with clarity, precision, and depth. We want to help them develop the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to recognize and discover patterns in the natural and social world, and make reasoned judgments based on evidence. We want students to be active citizens, concerned about the world around them and engaged in its improvement. CSL is central to this kind of systemic change in every area of the curriculum.

The overall goal of integrating CSL into the curriculum must be to foster the development of a socially conscious and socially responsible citizenry, i.e., to help students develop a personal investment in the well-being of others and of the planet. To accomplish this, we must begin in kindergarten and continue involving students in CSL activities throughout all the grades. But in order for these CSL activities to be viewed as integral to education reform, they must be consistent with the long-term improvement efforts pursued by the school or district and seen as an essential strategy for systemic change.

Community Service Learning and Education Reform

Community service learning can provide a key strategy in education reform and the long-term improvement efforts of a school district. Service learning provides teachers with an important instructional tool for enhancing student understanding. The movement toward inquiry-oriented, project-based, and thematically-organized forms of instruction that engage students in using real-world applications is central to education reform. By enhancing project-based, student-active instruction that focuses on real-world problems, CSL enables teachers to make the content more meaningful and understandable to students while enhancing their ownership for learning. In addition, CSL serves as an excellent vehicle for performance assessment by providing students with an opportunity to demonstrate their learning in the context of a situation in which their efforts have meaning and potency.

The research on service learning (Brandeis, 1997; Hedin & Conrad, 1990) shows that students engaged in service-learning activities strengthen their academic skills, civic attitudes, and skills for active citizenship. There is also growing evidence of the positive relationship between resiliency and service-learning in at- and high-risk students. Sagor (1997) points out that the key experiences that lead to resiliency include those practices that provide a sense of competence, belonging, usefulness, and potency. Service learning provides those conditions. In addition, the research in the development of social responsibility (Berman, 1997) shows that interest in civic participation and actual activism are stimulated by the unity of one’s sense of self and one’s morality, the sense of connectedness to others, and the sense of meaning that one derives from contributing to something larger than oneself. Prosocial action and service promote all these elements.

Additionally, Hodgkinson and Weitzman (1992) found that young people who participated in volunteer work in their childhood were more likely to continue volunteer activity into their teenage years. Therefore, we can expect that young people involved in service learning from an early age will do better academically and develop an ethic of care and service that fosters responsible civic participation.

Linking CSL to standards or curriculum frameworks in ways that clearly advance student performance is key to achieving these results. For example, the fourth-grade science program at Hudson [Massachusetts] Public Schools focuses on a variety of environmental, earth, and life science concepts. As part of our science program, we have initiated a year-long study of wetlands areas near each of our elementary schools. Students take water samples, collect data on plant variety, and collect “species ambassadors” who spend a short period of time in class and are then returned to their natural environment. This program has enriched student learning by focusing on significant content over an extended period using a hands-on, student-active methodology. Integrated into the unit is the study of the fragility of the wetlands and the need to preserve and promote the quality of the environment.

As part of their study, students clean up wetland areas, develop nature trails to educate others about the value of wetlands, and work to certify the vernal pools in their area. These CSL activities have deepened students’ understanding of the material by connecting the content to a larger sense of meaning and purpose. These fourth graders, drawn from a wide range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, not only loved what they did and what they learned, but scored in the top 20 percent of all fourth graders on the new high-standards Massachusetts curriculum assessment test. Community service learning was not an add-on to the curriculum, but deeply integrated in and consistent with the rest of the content.

Similarly, in Hudson’s ninth-grade program, English and Social Studies teachers collaborate on a year-long course with the essential question of “What is a just society and an individual’s responsibility to creating a just society?” In this course, students study the Holocaust and other acts of genocide using the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum. Central to the course is the discussion of one’s “universe of obligation,” that is, the degree to which one is responsible for others. As part of expanding this universe of obligation, they are required to find a way to help create a more just society through a service-learning project. Again, this CSL experience is integral to the course material and gives meaning to the subject matter.

However, systemic reform is more than just one or two powerful units of instruction integrated into the curriculum. If CSL is to be a systemic reform strategy, it must comprehensively and consistently cut across all curricular areas and grades.

Implementing Systemic Reform

Over the past five years, teachers and administrators in the Hudson Public Schools have worked to create a comprehensive K–12 CSL program. We are committed to integrating CSL into all classes and grade levels in a way that enhances the effectiveness of our instructional program. This is not an easy task. It involves ongoing professional development, collaborative planning, institutionalized teacher leadership, and strong administrative support.

The entire faculty has been engaged in professional development experiences in CSL. Several times a year we use our monthly curriculum coordination meetings to build consistency across schools and grade levels, ensure our CSL programs include adequate student preparation and reflection, and address key standards within the curriculum frameworks. To encourage the expansion of CSL initiatives, we used teacher mini-grants to support new initiatives as well as summer curriculum funds to support curriculum development.

In addition to providing professional development and curriculum planning time, teacher initiative and leadership has been essential to building the program. From the early stages, our CSL program was nurtured and promoted by a team of teachers representing each of our schools. This CSL Leadership Team planned the inservice programs, developed the mini-grant program, pursued and won grants to fund CSL in the district, and provided the planning and oversight for the effort. In addition, they developed an introductory CSL packet for each teacher that contains guidelines for CSL projects, a list of 100 good CSL ideas, and a resource list of organizations; created CSL reference and resource kits that have been placed in each school library; and served as consultants to teachers pursuing new initiatives.

Through these efforts, we have been able to develop a consistent and comprehensive program that enhances our instructional program. In 1997, we set a district goal of having the majority of students at all grade levels involved in some form of service learning. We have had remarkable success. Over 80 percent of our student body was involved in some form of service learning with 100 percent participation at the elementary level.

Administrative Commitment

This level of progress could not have been accomplished without administrative support. The superintendent of Hudson Public Schools has played a central role in the effort. He personally chaired the CSL Committee in the early years and continues to serve on the committee now that teachers have assumed the chairperson’s role. He made it clear to principals that he expected all teachers to find a way to integrate CSL into their class. He supported the use of curriculum time for system-wide CSL planning. He also secured the support of Hudson’s School Committee (school boards in Massachusetts are known as School Committees).

To highlight the importance of service learning in the district, the Hudson School Committee sets aside one of its meetings for a service-learning exposition in which all CSL projects are displayed and parents and the community are invited to learn about our students’ efforts. In addition, the Superintendent has authorized special Superintendent’s Award for Service for students at each school. These awards are presented to middle- and high-school recipients at the Hudson High School graduation to highlight their importance. This type of recognition demonstrates publicly the district’s commitment to CSL.

The development of a systemic CSL initiative can take place in many ways in a district. However, systemic integration of CSL cannot take place without the support of principals, curriculum directors, and the superintendent. It is for this reason that the Education Commission of the States has formed a new organization to provide administrators with the tools and support necessary to take leadership in this area and to advocate for systemic integration of CSL nationally.

Supporting Administrators Nationally

The pressure to increase test scores and other indicators of student performance make it more challenging for administrators to support systemic community service-learning efforts. Although they may value CSL, they must have some degree of confidence that their investment will provide both social and academic results. In order to provide administrators with the tools and support they need to take a leadership role in developing systemic CSL programs, a group of chief state school officers and superintendents created an organization titled The Compact for Learning and Citizenship (CLC) under the auspices of the Education Commission of the States.

CLC provides a voice for educational leaders to advocate for quality service-learning opportunities that enhance academic achievement and civic engagement. The individual and collective efforts of CLC members are beginning to provide the leadership necessary to help schools make service-learning opportunities available to K–12 students and effectively use volunteers to help students improve their academic knowledge and skills.

CLC develops and disseminates resources on service learning, volunteers in schools, and policy; provides technical assistance to educational leaders and key decision-makers; organizes state, regional, and national conferences and meetings; and provides a collective public voice in support of service learning and the contribution volunteers make to improve student learning.

CLC is currently engaged in a national K–12 service-learning initiative supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. CLC will work with five states and selected districts and schools to deepen service-learning practice and enhance policy development. The project will provide greater understanding of the conditions necessary for successful service-learning integration of the strategies necessary to overcome impediments.

As an organization of school leaders, CLC has the potential to widen the base of support for community service learning among school administrators and significantly advance the national effort to promote service learning.

Building Community Support for the Schools

Community service learning can form an important bridge between the community and the schools. We are living in a time when adults are suspicious of our youth and have very low opinions of them. Similarly, as declining civic participation among young adults shows, young people feel alienated and disaffected from our social and political community and often withdraw from participating in this arena. Service learning provides a bridge between young people and their community, giving young people a sense of hope, an experience of community, and a belief in their own personal effectiveness. In addition, service learning helps members of the community understand the contribution students can make to community improvement and brings them in direct contact with students and the instructional program of the school.

Community service learning can play a critical role in reclaiming our pride and confidence in public education. It can provide young people with experiences of community and connection that give them meaning and direction. It can enrich our academic program and improve student performance. Our challenge is to think of community service learning as we would any other systemic reform initiative and bring together the resources necessary to create broad-based implementation in our public schools.

* * *

Sheldon Berman is the Superintendent of the Hudson Public Schools, Chairperson of the Compact for Learning and Citizenship, and a founder and past-President of Educators for Social Responsibility. He is the author of Children’s Social Consciousness and the Development of Social Responsibility, co-editor of Promising Practices in Teaching Social Responsibility, as well as the author of numerous articles.

Berman, S. (1997). Children’s Social Consciousness and the Development of Social Responsibility. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Brandeis University (1997). Draft Interim Report: National Evaluation of Learn and Serve America School and Community-Based Programs. Center for Human Resources, Brandeis University and Abt Associates Inc. Waltham, MA

Hedin, D. and Conrad, D. (1990). The impact of experiential education on youth development. In J. Kendall and Associates (eds.), Combining Service and Learning: A Resource Book for Community and Public Service, Volume 1 (pp. 119-129). Raleigh, NC: National Society for Internships and Experiential Education.

Hodgkinson, V., and Weitzman, M. (1992). Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 1992 Edition. Washington, DC: The Independent Sector.

Sagor, R. (1996, September). Building resiliency in students. Educational Leadership 54(1), 38-43.

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The Compact for Learning and Citizenship

The mission of the Compact for Learning and Citizenship (CLC) is to provide the educational leadership necessary to integrate service-learning into the program of study of K–12 students and maximize the contribution of community volunteers for the academic achievement of students. Chief state school officers and district superintendents are invited to join CLC and participate in efforts to share best practices and coordinate service-learning efforts with other interested individuals and organizations. For more information, contact Terry Pickeral, Project Director, Compact for Learning and Citizenship, Education Commission of the States, 707 17th Street, Suite 2700, Denver, CO 80202. (303) 299-3636; Fax: (303) 296-8332; e-mail: tpickeral@ecs.org.


Service-Learning Implementation Profiles

Service learning is becoming a part of overall school improvement efforts across the country. The following profiles show the differing approaches three school districts used to make service learning part of their curriculum.

BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON—In 1992, a representative from Western Washington University approached the Bellingham school district with the idea of incorporating service learning into our schools. We became convinced that service learning would be an effective instructional method and decided to pursue it.

We began by integrating service learning into the eighth-grade curriculum of one of our middle schools.Four eighth-grade teachers received service-learning training with a particular focus on how they could align service learning with their core curriculum. In the second year, middle-school teachers in additional grade levels also began to use this pedagogy in their classes.

Early indications of success, based on evaluations by students and teachers, feedback from parents, and teacher assessment of mastery of curriculum, encouraged the district to move from project-based to curricular-focused service learning by aligning it with course content and student outcomes.

As with any new effort, the schools and district encountered difficulties and learned a great deal as they began to integrate service learning into their curriculum. For example, transportation to and from community sites was troublesome, and it proved difficult for teachers to step outside their traditional in-classroom roles. It was also a challenge to coordinate and supervise activities out in the field and provide adequate planning time for teachers. The district continues to address these and other challenges by developing internal systems of encouragement, support, and rewards; providing teachers with additional training; involving parents, high school students, university interns, and AmeriCorps members; and communicating service-learning efforts broadly through the media, district publications, and other means.

Today, with a focus on teacher training and building strong community partnerships, the district incorporates service learning into its overall goals and long-term strategic plan. These efforts have begun to pay off. We now have 75 percent of the district’s middle schools and most elementary schools integrating service learning into their courses and programs, resulting in:

  • improved teaching and learning, particularly in middle schools.
  • eased transition for students from elementary to middle school. For example, by learning about “middle school culture” through common service-learning projects, such as restoration of Connelly Creek or the maintenance of the Gordon Carter Environmental Site, fifth– and sixth–grade students in the FAST (Fifth and Sixth Together) Program exhibited fewer behavioral problems in their transition from elementary to middle school.
  • increased student sense of belonging in their community.
  • increased competency in their academic studies.
  • increased ability to meet district goals for student academic achievement.
  • alignment with the Washington State Essential Student Learning.
  • enhanced community connections.
We plan to expand our service-learning efforts into high school with an eighth- and ninth-grade transition program. Based on the success of the service-learning program in our middle schools, we have every reason to believe it will work in our high schools.

For more information, contact Bill Attebery, Bellingham Public Schools, Bellingham, Washington. (360) 676-4880; e-mail: batteber@bham.wednet.edu.

SHARON, MASSACHUSETTS—Sharon Public Schools is a suburban school system in which 95 percent of the graduates attend two- or four-year colleges. The community and parents take pride in the school system’s accomplishments; education is valued and there is strong support for the school system. Our mission statement highlights an appreciation of diversity, social awareness, and the development of civic responsibility. Community service learning is viewed as an effective strategy to meet these goals.

In 1992, the school system was invited to apply for a three-year foundation grant to infuse the principles of community service learning into the curriculum and to train teachers to incorporate these principles into their teaching. With the $500,000 grant, the school district committed to community service learning for the long haul by employing a full-time community service-learning director and support staff, purchasing two vans, and funneling additional dollars toward professional development.

One of our first activities, which has proven to be extremely successful in maintaining our program after the funding expired, was the establishment of a community service-learning advisory council. The council is composed of representatives from local government, civic leaders, senior citizens, clergy, parents, teachers, administrators, school committee, and the media. The council advises the director on the establishment of community service learning in the schools and community, helps identify potential service sites, and reports initiatives to the media.

During the past seven years, Sharon Public Schools has implemented community service-learning programs in all five schools and all grade levels. Students participate in programs ranging from tutoring in the schools to preparing food for homeless shelters. Although community service learning is not required for students as a condition of graduation, we expect our teachers to plan and implement learning activities that reflect community service learning as part of the curriculum.

A 1996 independent evaluation of the service-learning program in Sharon Public Schools revealed the overall success of the program in relation to student outcomes, school system morale, and community support. Community service learning in Sharon Public Schools has linked the school system with the community in meaningful ways and has contributed to student appreciation of diversity, social awareness, and civic responsibility.

For more information, call Thomas M. LaGrasta, Superintendent, Sharon Public Schools, Sharon, Massachusetts. (781) 784-1570.

WATERFORD, CONNECTICUT—Waterford High School has integrated the use of service learning as a teaching methodology for two major reasons: First, it has proven to be an effective means of educating students. Service learning as an instructional strategy enhances student learning through active participation in experiences that meet actual community needs. We find that students gain mastery of key curricular content and develop higher-level thinking skills. Second, service learning plays a vital role in fulfilling Waterford’s mission to develop responsible citizens. In The Culture of Schools and the Problem of Change, Seymour Sarason said that “schools have two major functions: one is to foster the academic-intellectual growth of children and the other is to inculcate in them those values appropriate to life in a democracy.” Through service learning, students can grow to understand the meaning of citizenship in a participatory democracy and develop the skills necessary to become active members of society.

The Waterford school district administration and board of education planted the seed for service learning by charging a committee of parents, teachers, students, school administrators, and community leaders to explore the role of community service in education. As a result of the committee’s work, Waterford’s service-learning program began in 1992 as an 80 hour community-service graduation requirement. Our intent in implementing a community-service requirement was to ensure that students actively experience community service as they prepare for productive citizenship in a diverse and changing world.

As the service requirement was being implemented, the committee continued to research other methods to integrate service into the schools. Today, in addition to the graduation requirement, service learning is integrated into classroom instruction in multiple classes throughout the district. We have strategically focused on integration at the high-school level and have begun to use our experiences to facilitate integration in the other schools.

Waterford has effectively integrated service learning by creating an atmosphere that facilitates and encourages its use. Teachers were never told that they were required to use service learning as a strategy. Instead, teachers were given resources to integrate service learning, including professional time to plan projects, additional funding and the assistance of a program coordinator. The work of the coordinator has been crucial in helping teachers move from wanting to integrate service learning to actual implementation. This environment has allowed teachers to recognize the value of service learning and integrate it into their curriculum, ensure that service-learning activities are directly linked to academic content, and meet real community needs.

It has been a challenge to get people to embrace such a change in the traditional teaching methodology. Education, exposure, support, and mentoring helped to ease the transition. We were fortunate to have a veteran teacher who engaged her students in a major project and actively shared the results of her work with her peers. Other teachers began to ask how they could use this methodology in their classrooms.

The integration of service learning has had a positive impact on Waterford. Teachers comment on students’ increased enthusiasm for classroom learning. Students take responsibility for their own learning and gain mastery of curriculum content while building critical-thinking skills. Reflecting on their experiences in service learning, students have commented that they have learned more with this active, involved approach to learning than in traditional classroom instruction. Students look forward to the use of service learning in their other classes. Some students have encouraged other teachers to use this methodology. We have found that combining classroom work and service can lead to dramatic improvements in student attitudes, motivation, and achievement. Finally, students are being seen as valuable resources in the Waterford community.

For more information, contact Randall H. Collins, superintendent, Waterford, Connecticut, Public Schools, (860) 444-5852.


Back Issues of Service-Learning Network Now Available on the Internet

Past issues of Service-Learning Network are full of useful service-learning theory, practice, and resources. Check out Constitutional Rights Foundation’s archive of easy-to-download editions of Service-Learning Network. This helpful resource is available free of charge from the CRF web site at www.crf-usa.org/publications.html.

CRF WebTip: Customize Your Internet Browser’s Toolbar

Do you have a favorite web site? Do you frequently toggle from one useful site to another? Are your Internet bookmarks a quagmire? Netscape offers a Personal Toolbar that allows you to post frequently used web sites in plain view on your browser screen. To activate Netscape’s Personal Toolbar, do the following:

  • Open “View” from the Netscape menu.
  • Click “Show Personal Toolbar.” This should create a blank strip beneath your browser’s URL or “Location Toolbar.”
  • Open the “Bookmarks” menu and choose “Edit Bookmarks.” This will open the “Bookmarks” window.
  • Highlight one of your favorite or frequently used bookmarks.
  • Open “File” from the “Edit Bookmarks” menu.
  • Choose “Add Selection to Toolbar” from the File menu. The bookmark will appear on your Personal Toolbar.
Note: On the Mac OS, the personal toolbar is not available. If you know how to activate a personal toolbar on Microsoft’s Explorer browser, please let us know at charlie@crf-usa.org.


Constitutional Rights Foundation to Host Two-Day CityYouth Workshop

Experienced CityYouth teachers and CityYouth curriculum designers will team up to present a hands-on, two-day workshop on CityYouth, Constitutional Rights Foundation’s ground-breaking middle-school curriculum. The workshop will be held April 15–16, 1999, in Los Angeles.

CityYouth: a multidisciplinary, civic-participation program, designed for use by math, science, social studies, and language arts teachers in the middle grades. Using CityYouth, teachers work in teams to integrate civic participation and service learning into their curriculum. CityYouth is rooted in the principles of middle-school transformation and provides a vehicle for teachers to effectively apply strategies of team teaching, student core grouping, cooperative learning, and service projects in their classrooms. The CityYouth program is also being used as a core advisory curriculum and an after-school enrichment model.

Workshop Content: Teachers will participate in interactive workshops covering content, design, and methodologies of the CityYouth curriculum. In addition to the full curriculum, workshop participants will receive useful supplemental materials outlining service projects, possible curriculum modifications, and strategies for school site implementation. For more information, contact Gregorio Medina, CityYouth Program Manager, (213) 316-2121; e-mail: gregorio@crf-usa.org. Or write CityYouth, Constitutional Rights Foundation, 601 S. Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90005.

RMC Research Network to Support Service Learning in Public Education

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation Service-Learning Initiative aims to make service to others an integral part of everyday classroom learning in school districts across America. Building on a decade of experience with service-learning programs, the foundation will focus this $13 million, four-year initiative on improving policy, practice, research and leadership by working with parents, teachers, students, administrators, community members, policy makers and national leaders. The formation of the Research Network is being facilitated by RMC Research. The overarching goal of the network is to promote more and better quality research in the field of service learning through the formation of a national research agenda, web site discussion groups, identification of funders and publication vehicles, and development of a series of white papers on the research. You can learn more about the Research Network by attending information sessions at the National Service-Learning annual conference in San Jose or the American Educational Research Association annual conference in Montreal. For more information about the Research Network, contact Shelley Billig, RMC Research, 1512 Larimer Street, Suite 540, Denver, CO 80202, (800) 922-3636; e-mail: billig@rmcdenver.com. For more information about the Kellogg Foundation’s Initiative, contact Susan Oliver at 202-778-6323.

The Prudential Youth Leadership Institute

The Prudential Youth Leadership Institute is a unique training program designed to give high-school-age youth the ability and desire to make meaningful, lifelong contributions to their communities through volunteer service. The institute is sponsored nationally by the Prudential Insurance Company of America, in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation and Youth Service America. The program provides young people with a broad array of leadership skills and a fundamental understanding of how to apply those skills to community problem-solving. Organizations can conduct their own institutes by attending one of the 1999 National Training Seminars and becoming certified Institute Trainers. For information on starting an institute or to find out about an existing institute in your area contact the Points of Light Foundation, 1400 I Street, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20005. Phone: (202) 729-8142, Fax: (202) 729-8105. E-mail: pyli@pointsoflight.org.


Active Citizenship Today Implementation Guide
Questions and Answers About Service Learning

Close Up Foundation, Washington D.C., and Constitutional Rights Foundation, Los Angeles. 1998. 8½" X 5½". 40 pp. ISBN: 1-886253-07-2

How can students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and concerned community members work together on local issues? How can teachers and school administrators find—and maintain—school and community support for a service-learning program? How can teachers fulfill their curriculum requirements while students explore and address the needs of their community?

The Active Citizenship Today Implementation Guide distills nearly five years of experience accumulated by CRF and Close Up Foundation during the development of ACT—Active Citizenship Today. ACT is a service-learning program for middle- and high-school students that links social studies skills and knowledge to community needs and resources. ACT is built around a problem-solving framework that offers a hands-on approach to local political issues, government, and policy. The ACT Implementation Guide gathers information from program designers, teachers, school administrators, students, parents, and community members who have participated in the ACT program in school districts across the country. This easy-to-use handbook answers a broad range of practical questions about planning any service-learning program and keeping it going.

For more information on CRF programs and publications, call (800) 488-4CRF or visit our web site at: https://www.crf-usa.org.

Building Support for Service-Learning

Edited by Shelley H. Billig

RMC Research Corporation, Denver, CO. 1998. 8½" X 11". 140 pp.

This volume addresses the systems necessary to implement quality service learning in schools. It is intended to serve as a companion guide to Linking the Improving America’s Schools Act and Service-Learning (Billig and Kraft, 1996). The Linking guide provided a rationale for adopting service-learning approaches, service-learning pedagogy, planning advice, program evaluation and student assessment, and more. The editors soon learned that educators needed further guidance on several critical service-learning elements. Leading them to formulate Building Support for Service-Learning.

Chapter One of Building Support for Service-Learning discusses strong, defensible actions that can lead to a vision that can be shared by school and community stakeholders. Chapter Two discusses how service-learning leadership can be focused and shared with teachers, administrators, students, and community members. Chapter Three provides research and tools for nurturing a successful professional culture. Chapter Four describes methods to support teacher training in school reform. Chapter Five illustrates how parents, family, and community play an important role in school reform. Chapter Six discusses some common misconceptions about service learning and examines the need for public support. Chapter Seven shows where and how service-learning funding can be accessed. Chapter Eight examines public policies that serve to support or hinder service-learning success. Chapter Nine discusses how service learning can be institutionalized to ensure continuity.

Support for Service Learning also offers anecdotal profiles of school strategies that give weight to the ideas put forth in each chapter. A number of helpful matrices, “Checklist” paradigms, and review forms give structure to leadership and community assessment, parent involvement standards, funding grant reviews and more. Bibliographies supply additional reading for each chapter.

For more information, contact Shelley H. Billig, Editor, RMC Research Corporation, 1512 Larimer Street, Suite 540, Denver, CO 80202. (800) 922-3636; fax: (303) 825-1626; e-mail: billig@rmcdenver.com.

Critical Issues in K–12 Service-Learning
Case Studies and Reflections

Edited by Gita Guilati-Partee and William R. Finger

National Society for Experiential Education, Raleigh, NC. 1996. 8½" X 11". 243 pp. with resources and appendix. ISBN 0-937883-16-6

Five years ago, the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) received funding to design a program that would help educators and practitioners integrate service learning into the cultures, missions, and curricula of high schools. Critical Issues in K–12 Service Learning is a compendium of case studies, first-hand accounts, and personal stories that capture the lessons that NSEE has learned in its daily work with this project. The writers represent rural, urban, and suburban communities; public and private schools; community-based organizations; elementary, middle, and high schools; diverse student populations and communities; and various service-learning models.

The goals of the project were threefold: to publish a useful resource for this field, to provide an opportunity for K–12 educators to reflect on their experience, and to advance their own leadership through the publishing process.

Through a survey of K–12 educators and collaborating community organizations, NSEE identified seven broad issues that are critical to sustaining service learning. Critical Issues in K–12 Service Learning is organized under these issue headings. They include community and institutional support, program management, curriculum integration, faculty and student involvement. A seventh issue, renewal, evolved from urgent concerns about time constraints and “burn-out” that were expressed in the survey.

Each article in Critical Issues in K–12 Service Learning reflects the experiences of one or two professionals who address one specific issue or challenge. These are not program profiles. Rather, articles tend to define and explain issues and present successful strategies to address them. In some cases, articles take the form of case studies. In others, authors wrote more generally about the challenges they had faced in their service-learning experiences.

For more information, contact National Society for Experiential Education, 3509 Haworth Drive, Suite 207, Raleigh, North Carolina 27609-7229. (919) 787-3263. To order Critical Issues in K–12 Service Learning, contact Simon & Schuster Custom Publishing, 5550 W. 74th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46268. (877) 587-4666.


Constitutional Rights Foundation(CRF) is among the leading national organizations promoting school-based youth service and service learning. Since 1962, CRF has used education to address some of America’s most serious youth-related problems: apathy, alienation, and lack of commitment to the values essential to our democratic way of life.

Through a variety of civic-education programs developed by CRF staff, young people prepare for effective citizenship and learn the vital role they can play in our society. Em powered with knowledge and skills, our youth can interact successfully with our political, legal, and economic systems.

CRF is dedicated to assuring our country’s future by investing in our youth today. For more information about CRF programs including Youth Leadership for Action, Active Citizenship Today (a collaboration with Close Up Foundation), CityYouth, California State Mock Trial Competi tion, History Day in California, Sports & the Law, or curriculum materials, please contact our office.

We welcome your recommendations of themes for future issues, conference listings, resources materials, program evaluations, book reviews, or curriculum and activities ideas. Thank you for your contributions and most of all for your dedication to youth.
Join CRF’s Listserv

CRF will be sending out periodic announcements about new publications, programs, trainings, and lessons. Don’t miss out. E-mail us at crf@crf-usa.org. On the Subject Line, write CRF Listserv. In the message, put your name, school, subject you teach, state, and e-mail address. 

This issue of Service-Learning Network is made possible by a generous grant from The Ford Foundation.

©1999, Constitutional Rights Foundation, 601 South Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 487-5590  Fax (213) 386-0459   www.crf-usa.org

Haley J. Fromholz, President; Marjorie S. Steinberg, President-Elect; Todd Clark, Executive Director; Marshall Croddy, Director of Program and Materials Development; Kathleen Kirby, Senior Consultant; Charles Degelman, Editor; Julie Glaser, Program Manager; Andrew Costly, Production Manager.