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Youth Community Service Curriculum
Reach And Teach says:
We've worked with Youth Community Service for many years now and have always been amazed at the incredibly well developed programs they have led where students discover their passion for making the world a better place, create an action plan to actually do something, and then work with community organizations and individuals to turn their plan into reality. All the while these students are also improving their educational outcomes in math, science, civics, reading, the arts, and more.
Now, YCS has taken years of experience, combined with some of the best practices and successful projects from other organizations, and put together a month by month service learning after-school curriculum. Everything you need to apply the very best practices of service-learning with proven projects and learning materials is combined in this terrific single volume. Whether you apply the month-by-month strategy or just pick and choose from among the dozens and dozens of unique project ideas, you'll find this to be one of the most valuable resources on any bookshelf.
About the Curriculum:
Supported by a grant from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, Youth Community Service (YCS) developed the following curriculum for middle school students (grades 6-8). The structure of the curriculum was developed through the integration of: (a) Youth Community Service’s best practices in after-school programming in East Palo Alto; (b) Guiding Principles for Quality After-School Programs Serving Preteens developed by Public/Private Ventures for the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health; and (c) K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice developed by the National Youth Leadership Council and RMC Research Corporation.
The goals of the curriculum are to empower middle school students to become youth leaders and to provide them with skills that will enable them to help their communities solve some of society’s challenging problems.
The curriculum provides students with activities that promote deep thinking about important social issues. The curriculum also links academic studies with community service projects and many of the curriculum activities encourage student learning through research, group discussion, study, action and reflection.
Curriculum Monthly Themes:
- September: Service to Others/Celebrating Community
- October: Healthy Living
- November: Acceptance of All People
- December: Hunger & Homelessness
- January: Non-Violence
- February: The Arts
- March: Civic Engagement
- April: Respect for Life & Environment
- May: Science & Technology
- June: Celebrating Community
The entire curriculum, including all handouts, is available on an optional CD-ROM. If you would like the CD-ROM included with your order, please use the pull-down menu and say "Yes Please!" You can also just order the CD-ROM using that menu.
If you're interested in downloading individual chapters, each monthly-themed chapter is available for $7. Click here to visit the YCS Downloads store page to select which chapter(s) you'd like to order.
About the Indicators for Quality Service-Learning
The YCS After-School Curriculum is based on a service-learning framework. As a teaching method that is based on the integration of academic content with community service, service-learning promotes both active learning and service to the community. Service-learning can be infused into classroom academic curricula, as well as be incorporated into an after-school environment.
As forms of community engagement through service, both community service and service-learning provide individuals with opportunities to make an active difference in their communities. However, when young people engage in service-learning they are better situated to: (a) link the service experience to academic curriculum; (b) develop meaningful partnerships in the community and access greater resources from community partners; (c), engage in meaningful service; (d) have intentional opportunities for youth voice; (e) honor diverse perspectives; and (f) engage in reflection and evaluation. In addition, service-learning experiences provide students with the opportunity to engage in activities that address a community problem or issue for a sustained period of time.
About the Indicators for Quality After-School Programming
The YCS After-school Curriculum is also based on the Guiding Principles for Quality After-School Programs Serving Preteens developed by Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) for the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. P/PV identified six after-school principles, or program components, that are associated with positive outcomes for preteens. When these components are included in an after-school program, students are: (a) goal-oriented in their after-school activities for a sustained period of time; (b) able to develop meaningful and supportive relationships with adults; (c) more inclusive of diverse perspectives and more interactive with others from different cultural backgrounds; and (d) supported in including their family members in the after-school experience. In addition, students and after-school staff are able to assess the successes and challenges of the after-school activities.
When taken together, the indicators for quality service-learning programs and the indicators for quality after-school programming encourage students to make deeper connections to the service experiences and to engage in deeper learning about the relevant social issues.
How to Use the Curriculum
The curriculum is designed for after-school clubs and extended-day programs that meet one to three times per week throughout the academic year. The curriculum is organized into nine monthly thematic units. Each unit contains eight suggested learning activities, two suggested service projects, and one reflection activity. After-school leaders may choose to use some, or all of the units throughout the academic year. Further, leaders may choose to use all activities, or a selected set of activities within each unit. However, it is recommended that within each unit, leaders choose at least two to four learning activities, one service project, and the reflection activity for that unit.
Continuous program improvement is essential for high-quality after-school programming. Within a service-learning framework, assessment of both the academic content learned and the students’ increased understanding about the social issues that relate to the service experiences is critical. Further, evaluation of the service activity helps both after-school staff and students know whether the goals of the service-learning project were met and whether the service-learning project was beneficial to all community partners.
It is recommended that at the completion of each unit of the YCS After-School Curriculum the after-school staff evaluate:
- The students’ learning of the objectives for each activity covered;
- The academic standards (where listed) for each activity (were they met or not met?); and
- The quality of the service experience -
- Was the service beneficial to all participants?
- Was the service experience inclusive of diverse cultures and perspectives?
- Was there sufficient integration of youth voice?
- Was there enough time to plan and complete the service experience?
- Were the students successful in engaging their families in activities related to the unit?
As a leader in after-school programming in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, California, YCS has extensive experience in integrating academic learning at the middle and high school levels with community service activities. Founded in 1990, Youth Community Service is a non-profit organization that has worked successfully with preteens and teens and community partners to promote the ethic of service, foster leadership skills, build community, and enhance educational opportunities. YCS represents a uniquely effective community education partnership among the cities of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, and the Ravenswood, Sequoia and Palo Alto school districts. For over 20 years, YCS has engaged more than 17,000 young people in service opportunities within these communities. Additionally, YCS has been designated by the California Department of Education CalServe Initiative as the Service Learning Lead for one of twelve state regions. YCS is responsible for professional development for educators in service-learning strategies in five counties (San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito).