Ideas for Enriching Math Classes:

Ideas for Enriching Math Classes
Mathematics 1.4: The student understands and applies the concepts and procedures of mathematics: probability and statistics.

Possible Service-Learning Projects:

  • Use mathematical information to determine appropriate actions.
  • Complete a survey and then present your findings using graphs and diagrams.

Mathematics 2: The student solves problems using mathematics.

Possible Service-Learning Projects:

  • Interpret mathematical charts and other information to make a decision.
  • Graph the data collected from water sampling and use the results to make recommendations to policy makers.

Service-Learning Projects

Urban Schoolyard Habitat Project:
The Urban Schoolyard Habitat Project was a pilot project designed to reclaim a natural habitat for indigenous plant and animal life in the schoolyard of Richmond Elementary School. Once created, the habitat served as an environmental classroom for the school and community and a replication model for other urban schools. Curriculum areas included writing, research, math and communications.

Math/World Cultures Project:
Students marketed third world crafts to support impoverished artisans overseas, as well as raise money for the local emergency food bank.

The Community Gardens Project:
The aim of the Community Gardens Project is to have students creating gardens in their classrooms. They can eat the produce and learn about math (growth rates) nutrition and biology in the meantime. They then go out and start gardens in the community.

Watt Watchers:
Watt Watchers is a two-day interdisciplinary program that teaches students in grades 4-6 and their teachers to view their school building as an electricity consumer. Students learn to recognize problems that waste electricity, to identify appropriate (and cost effective) solutions to the problems, to quantify the savings and to get action on their recommendations.

Analyzing food based food’s nutritional value and cost effectiveness?

In an effort to ensure that the packages being assembled were the most nutritious, satiating, and economical, students explored how to to come up with a rating that takes all of these things into account. Using the ND rating and Fullness Factor they established  the price per calorie for each food, and created ratios for the nutrition and satiety of each food that was analyzed.

Other Ideas

  • Tutor younger students in math skills.
  • Conduct surveys on community needs and process and analyze the results.
  • Count species of animals or measure and count trees and other plant life for the Department of Natural Resources or Agriculture.
  • Calculate needs and measure building materials for construction projects such as installing wheelchair ramps.
  • Interview local businesses about how they use math in their daily work and publish the results in a booklet for other math classes. Problems could be included that would show practical applications for a range of math concepts.
  • Help food banks, food crops or local businesses with their monthly or quarterly inventories.
  • Assist small businesses or farms with basic bookkeeping such as cross checking journal entries or totaling columns.



Resources for Faculty

Resources for Faculty

Websites Containing Service-Learning Projects Aligned with State Standards:

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse

Lesson Plans, Syllabi, and Curricula     http://www.servicelearning.org


National Youth Leadership Council

NYLC provides service-learning training and resources for educators, youth, and community partners. Contact them about the Generator School Network, the National Service-Learning Conference, youth leadership training and the Urban Institute.    http://www.nylc.org


KIDS Consortium

The KIDS Consortium website provides teachers with valuable resources, including a toolkit to facilitate the Martin Luther King Day of Service .   http://www.kidsconsortium.org


Go to Service Learning.

This website has examples of service-learning curriculum designed by teachers across the country. http://www.gotoservicelearning.org

The Service-Learning Providers’ Network

This global social network is designed to assist those offering service-learning professional development opportunities.   http://www.slprovidersnetwork.org


Youth Service America

Develops resources and programs that increase the number and diversity of youth who are engaged in service, learning, leadership and achievement. They providing funding, resources and support for youth, educators and program partners. Sign up for their weekly briefings and grant alerts.     http://www.ysa.org



Risk Management

Risk Management and Liability
Be Prepared–Know your Guidelines ( For Washington State)

Risk management is an important component of culminating projects that encourage or require students to work with the community.  Thoughtfully developed policies and procedures can help teachers and administrators manage risks effectively.  Because “documents of agreement,” which attempt to reduce and/or transfer responsibility for harm are governed by state law, it makes good practice to review written consent and/or liability forms with the administration’s risk manager and/or legal counsel.

Work-study policies which guide off-site career placements can be applied to culminating projects as well.  The following recommendations should guide projects which involve a large number of students in service-learning.

Utilize school district’s risk management professionals and/or legal department to review policies, procedures, and forms; articulate and publish service learning policies, procedures, goals, and benefits for students, parents, staff, agencies, and service recipients.  Be sure to adjust and modify as needed.

Identify risks and liabilities and develop policies, procedures and training for students and staff, and develops goals, objectives and curriculum for the community project.

Require parental/guardian permission (in writing) for student involvement. The permission form needs to thoroughly describe the community activity and any potential dangers.

Become familiar with  child labor laws and Labor and Industry employment standards to insure that students are not engaging prohibited activities. (For example students may not use power tools; youth must be adequately trained for any on-site tasks.)

You may also visit the Washington State L&I Help for Teen Workers web site: http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/TeenWorkers/default.asp

For more information on federal law, contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour division at 206-398-8039 or visit their web site: www.dol.gov/dol/esa/public/summer/sw-sk.htm

Be sure there are supervisors at each service placement site.

Develop training and handbooks that cover health, safety and emergency crisis plans.  Training should include information about inherent risks.  Include this information in the student handbook and service site procedures handbook.

Be sure transportation policies for students traveling to and from service-learning sites follow all school district requirements and state laws governing student drivers and school transportation safety laws.

Students traveling off campus during school hours should have medical release forms signed by parents available on site.

Student medical and mental conditions that might impact the students’ safety and/or abilities must be known by students, community coordinator and school coordinator.  This information is covered by FERPA and cannot be released without a signed parental medical release.

While most of the risk management issues are common to all civic projects, there are some guidelines and recommendations that should guide program planning.

A. Teacher-guided service-learning projects with direct supervision.
B.  Student-Directed Service-Learning

A.  Guidelines for teacher-guided and supervised service-learning projects

In addition to the above guidelines the following recommendations can guide planning for teacher-supported service-learning.

Require all participants to wear identification badges and to sign in and out with each visit.  Student I.D. cards are helpful when placing students out in the community.

Provide adult supervision based on your district’s field trip adult-student ratio (1 adult/8 students). Some districts may allow parents, substitutes, Americorps and community volunteers to help provide supervision. Note that most general liability insurance requires direct supervision of volunteers by an employee in order to provide coverage.

*Any adults who are supervising students alone must have successfully complete Washington State Patrol Background Checks or fingerprinting.

Include health, safety, first aid and emergency crisis plans in project orientation.

Require that the teacher or service sites have a first aid kit, copies of the student’s medical release form, and clear instructions on what to do if the student is injured.

Good Judgment

Good judgment and common sense often dictate what safe and appropriate activity is. What is safe in one set of circumstances may not be classified as safe in another set of circumstances. For example, changing weather conditions call for you to assess a situation and possibly discontinue an activity. If you are uncertain about the safety of an activity give the district full details and don’t proceed without district approval.

The safety of the students is your most important consideration. Because of their youth and inexperience, children need guidance and support from adults. Adults must determine the degree of care required according to the child’s age and skill and the nature of the activity. Err on the side of caution when considering whether to proceed with an activity.

Recommended items to include in program planning and safety orientations.

Student Orientation

At the community site students should be instructed to:

  • Never do anything they have not been trained to do.
  • Follow their gut instinct if they are uncomfortable and get help.
  • Ask questions.
  • Never use power tools.
  • Find out where they can get help if they need it.
  • Know emergency exits and procedures
  • Understand the educational purpose, expectations and value of the service-learning project.

Parent Orientation

Parents should do the following:

  • Thoroughly understand the purpose of the culminating project and expectations of the service-learning project.
  • Inform the school supervisor of their child’s unique health and behavior needs.
  • Provide adequate medical accident insurance. If they don’t have insurance they can frequently purchase health coverage for their child through the school. Some examples include: Excel Serve, PTSA Student Accident Insurance, and L&I Volunteer Insurance.
  • Review the information sent home regarding the project site and activities and sign off only if they are comfortable with the value and safety of the project.
  • Provide their student with appropriate clothing and equipment for activities, or contact the leader before the activity to find sources for the necessary clothing and equipment.
  • Assist the leaders when their child has special needs or disabilities.
  • Make provisions for their student to get to or from meeting places in a timely manner.

Teacher/Supervisor Orientation

Educators should do the following:

  • Conduct a hazard mapping of site prior to service activity.
    Make sure there is not unsupervised access to children.
    Be sure students are supervised if they have direct contact with agency clients.  (If students will be regularly working with children and elderly State Patrol checks should be completed on the student volunteers.)
    Be sure all parties (student, parent and community) understand the educational purpose, expectations and process of the culminating project.
    Partner with law enforcement to provide background checks and, if necessary, fingerprinting, for community and parent supervisors.
    Be sure students are adequately trained prior to the service-learning projects so they know how to safely complete their tasks and how to respond in case of emergency.
    Create a statement of social, emotional, and physical, barriers for student success for parents to complete (i.e. Need to know information).
    Service Site

Community agencies should

  • Develop a learning plan for participating students.
  • Offer or provide volunteer insurance.
  • Complete background checks for staff.
  • Inform students of safety and emergency procedures before students begin working on their service activities. Model safe behaviors and provide time to answer questions and concerns.

Background Checks

This is required for all adults who will have unsupervised access to children, developmentally disabled persons, or vulnerable adults complete a Criminal Background Check. Acceptable background checks include the Washington State Patrol background check (using Washington State Patrol form 3000-240-430 or WATCH) and FBI fingerprint checks.

You may choose to use the Washington State Patrol WATCH (Washington Access to Criminal History) system to satisfy this requirement.  This is a free, on-line, secure system that will allow you instant access to State Patrol background information.  It is your  responsibility to ensure that background checks comply with the policies of the agencies and schools.

B. Guidelines for student-directed Culminating Projects.
Students make direct contact with community agencies as part of a Culminating Project.

Schools should:

  • Develop student packets that offer safe guidelines, including an individual student learning plan. Require parents to review and sign these forms.
  • Conduct a safety survey for any service site they promote.
  • Make sure there is no unsupervised access to children.
  • Require parents and students to verify the safety of the site before they begin to serve.
  • Be sure site complies with Child Labor and L&I regulations
  • Inform agencies of the purpose, expectations and process for the culminating project.
  • Be sure students and parents take responsibility for reviewing the safety of the project site. Parent informed consent forms need to be completed and recorded before students go on site.
  • Establish a list of prohibited activities that might put students in harm’s way (i.e. sky diving,, etc.), or the keep your feet on the ground rule
  • Partner with law enforcement and district attorneys to provide background checks, and if necessary, fingerprinting.

Students should:

  • Conduct a risk/hazard mapping of the site with parents.
  • Never do anything you have not been trained to do.
  • Follow their gut instinct, and get help if they are uncomfortable or afraid.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be sure agencies are fully informed of any special needs, medical issues or potential behaviors which may endanger them.
  • Listen to instruction and follow suggestions at the site.
  • Learn to “Think Safety” at all times and to “Be Prepared”.
  • Know how, when and where to get help when needed.

Parents should:

  • Develop an individual student learning plan with their child so everyone fully understands the purpose of the project.
  • Be sure they fully understand the purpose, expectations and process of the culminating project.
  • Assess the community site with their child prior to service activity.
  • Promptly pick up and drop of student at a safe, designated location. Have a back up transportation plan. (Cell phones may be helpful to facilitate communication.)
  • Meet with community site supervisor prior to the service activity.
  • Provide emergency contact information and get contact information from the service site.
  • Provide medical insurance.

Service Site should:

  • Develop learning plan for all students/projects.
    Attend a volunteer orientation which covers safety issues.
    Offer/provide volunteer insurance.
    Provide site supervisors and volunteers with background checks, medical accident insurance.



Project Rubrics

Sample Project Rubrics

Evergreen Public Schools:  Culminating Project Rubric for Assessing the Civic Action Project (10/05)

Quest High School Senior Exhibition Rubric

Bellingham School District: Rubric for Project Proposal

Northshore School District (Bothell, WA): 9th Grade CE Pilot Project Rubric for Determining if the Proposed Project is Challenging and Significant/Worthy




What is School-Based Service-Learning?

Recently, a group of young people, ages 11-25, from around the state of Washington defined service-learning as:

Service is…

  • doing something to help someone else.
  • doing something you feel good about.
  • doing something for others even if it doesn’t help you.
  • giving a community contribution.
  • having a commitment to the well-being of the community.
  • strengthening community values.
  • seeing a need and acting on behalf of it.

Learning is…

  • teaching others.
  • understanding something new.
  • being open to knowledge.
  • gaining experience.
  • putting something into your long-term memory.

trial and error.
struggle leading to progress.
character building.

School-Based Service-Learning is…

  • restoring a stream habitat as part of your biology class.
  • using what you are learning in school to help others.
  • writing stories and making books for a Head Start program as part of your English class.
  • painting a mural over an area that usually gets “tagged” by graffiti as part of your art class.



Purchase PSL Products

Purchase PSL Products on the web at http://www.kamamay11.byethost12.com/


New Book by Kate McPherson

2011 Book Cover

The Search Institute new guide to service-learning


The Search Institute has just published Learn, Serve, Succeed: Tools and Techniques for Youth Service-Learning by Kate McPherson. The book is available online directly from the publisher.


Why Should I Care?


Why Should I Care?

Young people have a wealth of energy, enthusiasm, insight, and creativity to contribute to their communities. However, the media has reinforced negative stereotypes, and society assumes that younger people are apathetic and just don’t care about the issues facing their communities and the nation.

Young people don’t often receive enough support (i.e., transportation) when they do have the desire to join community activities, and they may find themselves asking, “Why should I care?”

The following is a list of reasons developed by young people about being active in the community.

  • (Being involved) makes kids feel special–full of pride. It also makes grown-ups feel good when they work with children.
  • It helps learning become more interesting because you actually get to use it.
  • If you get kids involved now in doing good things for the earth, seven generations from now the world will be a better place. To quote student Josh Keats Sall: “Then in seven generations, we won’t have to wear gas masks.”
    What’s wrong with doing a favor for the world? If you think about it, only half of the people are working for community service. What if EVERYONE was working on community service…It’s a good thought, isn’t it?
  • You will set an example for other people to start helping each other.
  • You will help break stereotypes between young people and adults. When you tell one of your friends that kids/adults are (usually, almost always) great to work with, then they’ll say, “Oh, maybe I’ll try working with them,” and it will catch on.
  • Being active in the community can help with college applications, job applications and/or your resumé. It can connect you to people or situations that lead to friendships, jobs, internships, and a whole new view of your community.
  • You will live longer by being active (medical studies have proven this). It releases “power-morphins” — it gives a natural high!!
  • It beats sleeping in, watching television, or pulling lint out of your belly button.
    Help save the world — care for it.



Participants will:

  1. Clarify the purpose of the Culminating Project
  2. Develop a plan that provides clarity and support for students.
  3. Explore ways the district and/or school can benefit from mobilizing supportive partnerships.

Hear what youth have done and what helps them succeed.
Discuss the purpose and value of a Culminating Project (CP) and how it can serve as an effective demonstration of academic learning and civic skills.
Explore ways the CP can serve as part of the new classroom based assessment of Civic EALRS
Learn how schools and teachers have effectively included civic action in their culminating projects.
Review the new District Planning Guide for Civically Rich Culminating Projects which includes:

  • Clear and Aligned Purpose.
  • Explicit, Rigorous Standards .
  • Student-Directed Learning and Youth Engagement.
  • Clear Scaffolding and Support of Skills.
  • Authentic Project Development
  • Community Involvement
  • Coordination and Comprehensive Communication.
  • On Going Professional Development Support and Program Improvement
  • Celebration and Recognition.
  • Risk Management and Liability
  • Build connections to students’ post high school plans.

For information regarding summer institutes and other training opportunities, contact contact Dianne Keely at 360-750-7500 or dianne.keely@esd112.org

Community Outreach: Ask local business people to suggest ways that students can be of service to the community.


  • Students create or update the website of a local youth center.
  • Students use a graphic design program to create a flier advertising a fundraising event for the Humane Society.
  • Students produce a public service announcement about an issue that they feel needs to be addressed in their school or community.


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