Students submit their signed community service plan from our community service projects. They were instructed to share their ideas and the reasons why they chose this project with their parents. They then needed to get the signature from a parent to show their approval for homework.
Here's a video of one student on the reasons for her service choice idea
I then approve their ideas and they give me their lists of items they may need to conduct their community service. I email my principal and staff to make them aware of the activities and why students may be in different positions on campus. They are also given the right to send them back to class or to the office should they disrespect anyone, or anything/ or be seen playing rather than conducing their business with great effort - students are made aware of the emails & conversations and my expectations for their behavior.
In that their days are varied, and activities are both on campus and off campus (Student trash collectors) - they are required to make their schedules not interfere with class lesson times and to make up any work they miss in class - many have a peer collect their work and explain it to them when they return.
Students have to problem solve and log their solutions on a Problem solution chart to be used for part of their writing assignment that follows in the next lesson (not hearing the bell because they are in the garden - have a friend who is not involved notify you five minutes before the bell sounds/ parents can't take them to the lake to clean up - changed plans to pick up trash at school/ student who you were helping in another class was ill - changed days for assistance, etc.) This becomes a part of their reflection so I ask them to keep track on their clipboards of any problems that arise and how they solved them.
Students take this time after they complete their projects. They must be completed by the next week. They use class time to assess the effect their efforts had on others and themselves. They add this information to their Reflecting on my Community Service Project worksheets.
This is such an important component because it not only gives them an opportunity to gather information for their writing, but also teaches them that even in the best laid plans troubles arise. They learned that to reach their goals they need to solve problems and adapt their plans (Problem solution chart - Community service plan). Great time for a life skill lesson!
When they have finished, I signal for students to come to the carpet and share their reflections. Here's a reflection from one student on her service time and idea
Almost everyone enjoyed their service times and felt better because of the help they gave other (Students volunteering in the garden). Many wanted to continue their efforts for more weeks/ months which is a consideration if you have a school where collaboration is stressed.
I asked students " How was your experiences different from what you expected?", Did your project meet the needs of the people/ place you chose to improve?" , "What information would you share with your peers to persuade them to do this service?" and "What would you change if you did this project again?"
My purpose is to get them to understand why people fight for causes they believe in and why they risk even death for people they may never meet. My secondary objective for it is to get them to apply their learning to a persuasive argument essay that has all the components we discussed and practiced.
I finally ended with "Why do people volunteer?" They responded with much better answers now that they lived through the experience and even wanted me to send our pictures, plans and and written essays to the newspaper to encourage kids in different schools to participate as well. I close with connecting this back to our unit focus by asking "How are your community service ideas similar to Martin Luther King, Jr's., Nelson Mandela's or other people who changed our world?" I want them to make the connection between reacting to a need and affecting a change vs. waiting for others to do it.