Curriculum-based Planning Process


A Planning Process for Curriculum-Based Service-Learning

Working Title:



Community Partners:


Why are you developing a service-learning program? What are the primary ways that students will benefit from this service-learning program?

Project Description:

Essential (Guiding) Question (EQ)

What possible EQ comes to our mind? How will you enable students to define a central question or issue for this project?


What skills, attributes and knowledge will they gain? Where possible, build connections to specific state standards.

Essential Learning #1:

Essential Learning #2:

Essential Learning #3:

Civic Skills

What civic attributes, knowledge or skills will be fostered by this project?

SCAN Skills (Work related skills or career awareness):

How will you know if students have learned or applied these skills?

Rubric/Scoring Guide

How will you assess student learning? (Multiple choice, essay, teacher designed questions, interviews, performance assessment, other?) What do you need to collect or administer to prove that students developed and can apply the desired skills or attributes?

High Stakes Audience

How can the product or service be of value to the greater community?

How will you involve the community or school in assessing and reviewing student work?

How can you maximize the role and resources of the community?



What do you need to teach or have students experience so they will master and apply core academic skills?

What preparation does the community need so they can effectively engage students and maximize student learning?


How will you involve the students in the design and implementation of the service projects so the projects are meaningful to the community and students?


How will you encourage reflection and other metacognitive activities?

How will you help students see connections between the course objectives and the service-learning project?


What curricular and educational materials will students receive?


What resources, transportation, supplies and/or equipment will students need to accomplish the objectives?

Action Plan

What?     Who? When?


How will you assess the impact on the community?

How will you assess the educational value of the project?

How will you celebrate your success?

Who will you share you project with (media, district, school, parents)?


Ideas for Enriching English Classes:


Intergenerational Writing:
Students in sophomore English interviewed elderly residents of the Gig Harbor community who had lived there for most of their lives and then wrote a book based on the interviews and research. This service project tied to the tenth grade English curriculum in the interview process, research paper writing, and essay writing.

Writing Children’s Literature:
Sophomore English students write a book for elementary students. This service activity is linked to the curriculum through journal entries, papers on childhood heroes and other childhood topics. This activity enriches the elementary curriculum and develops an intergenerational relationship between 10th graders and primary students. The books that are written by the high school students are permanently bound and students can donate the books to the elementary students or loan.

Writing About Public Issues:
Students can use their writing skills to help inform others about public issues or to share their own perspectives. Through letters to the editor, Amnesty International and on line projects, students can inform and influence others.

Reading and Literacy

Check out the Best Practices section for some very effective programs that enable students to use their own reading skills to help others.



History – Best Practices



Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical and life sciences; civics and history; geography; arts; and health and fitness.

Africa and Ancient Egypt



Reading- outline


Read with comprehension, write with skill, and communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of settings.

Kids Care
Tutoring Research



Science -outline



Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical and life sciences; civics and history; geography; arts; and health and fitness.

The Aquatic World
Human Genome Project
Jammin’ Salmon
Creek Restoration




Building Effective Curriculum

Curriculum-Based Planning Process

Project-Based Planning Process

Assessing Student Learning

Essential Questions


Links to Resources

Reaching Out to Community Partners


Youth Voice

Linking Service Activities to the Essential Learnings

Goal One–Getting the Tools: Read with comprehension, write with skill, and communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of settings.

Goal Two–Adding the Content: Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical and life sciences; civics and history; geography; arts; and health and fitness.

Goal Three–Exploring the Content: Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and integrate experience and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems.

Community Service-Learning for Creative Foods
Madrona Corps
Research related to goal three
Goal Four–Connecting Learning, Life and Work: Understand the importance of work and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect career and educational opportunities.

Evergreen Exit Projects
Forks Study Skills
Migrant Education
Nooksack Valley
Pasco High School
Talbot Hill Ventures
West Valley City School
Service-Learning Internships

Ways to Enrich Classroom Teaching

Five questions can help you design a service-learning project that is aligned with a chose class topic or content. ( Questions developed by Jim and Pam Toole) This project-based approach to teaching and learning can provide students with authentic tasks through which they can learn and apply core classroom.

Teaching Others:
Could you teach what you have learned ( skills or knowledge) to an audience beyond the classroom?

Developing a Product or Performance:
Could your efforts be shaped into a product or performance to be given to someone beyond the teacher?

Problem Solve:
Could you help solve a real concern in the school or the community?

Address Policy:
Could you use what you have learned to advocate for a change in public policy?

Develop Philanthropic Ventures:
Could you write a grant or raise money to fund a project or social entrepreneurial venture?

Ideas for:


Social Studies (History, Civics)

Foreign Languages









Aligning Service-Learning with District and State Learning Goals

More and more teachers are thoughtfully connecting their core curriculum to their service activities. The more clear the connection is for the students, parents and community members, the easier it is for students and people to understand how service-learning relates to course work and the more likely it is that students will understand why they are doing the service activities. It also increases the likelihood that they will be able to apply classroom learnings, not only in the service setting, but to future settings.
Teachers often involve students in a planning process which makes the connection to curriculum more explicit. For example, the teacher will take the time when they begin their units to articulate the Essential Learnings or the core curriculum which will be the focus of the unit. Students then generate service activities that clearly demonstration the curriculum. Examples of classroom projects which are closely tied to Washington State Essential Learnings can be found at the Service-Learning Northwest Web site. http://www.servicelearningnw.org/best_practices.html


Two planning processes are generally used. A general description along with the benefits and disadvantages are described below.

Project-Centered Process:
The following steps are used if a project-centered process is used:

1. Identify the Service Project. Students/ teachers work with the community to develop the service which they think is most significant given the school and community context.

2. Clarify the Essential Academic Skills. Students, community and teachers identify the skills which will be needed to complete the project i.e. computer skills, interviewing skills, writing skills etc.. Select 1-3 essential Learnings which are central to the project and/or core curriculum.

3. Determine Best Assessment Method(s)
(Essay, multiple choice, interview, or performance assessment)

4. Develop Standards and Scoring Guide if necessary. Participants develop criteria for a successful project/product. The criteria may be formulated into a scoring guide, building upon state or locally-developed rubrics.

4. Prepare and Complete Project. Prepare students for the service activities, teaching or reinforcing the necessary project skills. Assess service activities to determine effectiveness of learning.

5. Assess Student Learning. Assessment criteria is used during or at the end of service project to determine the level of performance which was demonstrated by the students and the community.

Example: Wheelchair Ramp
The following example shows how this process could be used with a wheelchair ramp project.

1. Identify the Need. The students and teacher would work with the community to identify a genuine need in the community. Perhaps a wheelchair ramp is needed to enable an elderly person to stay in his home which does not accommodate his new wheelchair. To assist this elderly person, students need to design, plan and build a wheelchair ramp for a local community center, taking into account the need for safety and accessibility.

2. Identifying Possible Essential Academic Learnings. The teacher can then determine which Essential Academic Learnings are incorporated in the project. For example, this project includes the following Essential Academic Learnings.

Legal Information- Liability
Permit Process

Select 2-3 Essential Learnings

4. Prepare and Complete the Project. Teachers along with community members provide needed information in order for students to know the information and materials they need to complete their project.

5. Assess Quality of Work. The teacher, along with the students and community members, can assess the quality of the service tasks, based upon the combine assessment activities


Curriculum-Center Service-Learning

Why are you developing a service-learning project? How will students benefit? What community need(s) will be addressed?

What state standards will be met?

Civic Skills:
What civic skills, attributes or knowledge will be fostered through this experience?


Service-Learning Overview

Overview of Service-Learning

“For me, service-learning is the right thing to do for professional renewal, enrichment and meaning. It has been a way to bring both my heart and my students’ hearts into this thing I do: teaching. Teaching is a tough job; it demands a great deal of perseverance, honesty and hard work.”

-Roland MacNichol, former Teacher-Leader at Gig Harbor High School

What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is…

  • Civics students helping new immigrants to pass their citizenship tests.
  • Elementary students building a bird sanctuary as part of their study of bird migration.
  • Middle school students capturing the history of an abandoned mining town.
  • Industrial Design students designing and building a wheelchair for a child with multiple sclerosis

Service -Learning is a method of teaching through which students apply newly-acquired academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in their own communities.

Effective Service- Learning:

• Enables students to use classroom skills and knowledge in real-life situations.
• Connects youth with people in their communities and provides valuable service to the community.
• Fosters civic responsibility and a sense of caring for others.
• Provides structured time for reflection on the experience.


Service learning is initially a difficult concept for people to understand. That is because people immediately think of volunteerism . People need to understand the distinction between community service and service-learning. Service learning is a method of teaching which connects classroom content to the community in a way that is helpful to others. The primary emphasis is on enriching the learning that happens as students apply their knowledge to a community context. By contrast, the primary purpose of youth community service is to provide service to the community and to foster an ethic of service.

Is It Community Service

The outcome of Community Service-Learning

  • Initiated and coordinated by either adults or students
  • Initiated and coordinated by students, with adults as guides or mentors
  • Students are asked to become involved with an existing project, or develop their own project
  • Students do a community needs assessment, and develop their project choice based on their selection of a “real community need”
  • Students may earn credit hours for community service participation
  • Service project is incorporated into to the school curriculum
  • Learning may or may not be present
  • Academic learning component is intentional
  • Reflection is not usually a part of the activity
  • Students are required to complete a series of structured reflection activities
  • Evaluation of the service activity is optional, and assessment-based:  “How did we do?”
  • Evaluation of the service activity is required (as an outgrowth of the reflection process) and is relationship-based:  “How does this relate to what I am learning in school?  To my future career?  To my role in my community?”



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