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Service Learning is an experiential method of teaching that provides opportunities for collaborative problem solving. It can further students' learning in any academic discipline through service. Projects can be completed at any grade level Pre-K - 16.
Frostburg State University includes service in its mission statement and is nationally recognized for its outstanding service to the community. Maryland was the first state in the nation to require service learning hours for graduation from high school. As part of this proud tradition, the N-8 teacher education program integrates service learning into several of its courses. Service learning projects further candidates' skills in content knowledge, problem solving, collaboration, and communication.
During Phase I of the program, candidates learn reading strategies and then serve the community by tutoring children. During Phase II - Block I, candidates learn about the seven elements of high quality service learning projects and see different projects completed in the field by former candidates. During Phase II - Block II, candidates are to complete a service learning project in the schools either individually or as a cohort team. The candidates are to discuss with their montor teacher(s) and/or with the School Improvement Team (SIT) possible ideas for a project related to academic skills and concepts being taught at the school.
Candidates formulate a written plan and conference with their instructor as to the purposes and feasibility of the plan. Candidates are encouraged to contact out of school agencies or parents to help in the project. Candidates are encouraged to take pictures and write a news article for publication in the local newspaper or in the school news. Service learning projects are reflected upon after completion by the students in the classroom and by the candidates. The reflection questions are the basis of an oral interview conducted at the end of the semester.
The final grade on the project is determined by the candidates' interview and the self-assessment instrument matching their project to the seven elements of a high quality service-learning project. This self-assessment instrument was developed nationally. Candidates are then encouraged to continue performing service learning projects during their extended internship in Phase III to demonstrate dedicated professionalism and advocacy. Products from service learning projects are often included in the candidates' professional portfolios and discussed during their Portfolio Night presentations.