A Lesson: Introducing Student Service Learning (SSL) Teacher Background: SSL is a state diploma requirement, which means students must complete the 70 hours of SSL requirement to graduate from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). In the fall of 1993, Maryland middle schools were tasked with embedding 10 SSL hours at each grade level; the remaining 40 hours are completed in high school. MCPS defines SSL as, “unpaid activities within the curriculum, school, or outside community that provide service to an individual or group, to address a school or community need.” (Handbook SSL MCPS Science Guidelines, p. 12) Facts about SSL: SSL hours must be earned in connection with and under the supervision of nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations. SSL hours may be earned in a variety of ways—in specific school courses, in school clubs, and in community organizations that are listed as “Pre-approved Service Opportunities” at www.mcpsssl.org; and with community organizations that are not listed as “Pre-approved Service Opportunities” but when preapproval is obtained. Thirty SSL hours may be earned through full participation in middle school courses—Grade 6 science, 10 hours; Grade 7 English, 10 hours; and Grade 8 social studies, 10 hours. SSL hours may not be earned for service performed for a religious purpose. Documentation of all service for which SSL hours are desired must be done using MCPS Form 560-51: Student Service Learning Activity Verification. Forms documenting service performed during the summer must be turned into the school SSL coordinator by September 30; documentation of service performed during each semester must be turned in by the end of the semester. Students should keep copies of all their SSL papers. You may find more comprehensive information about the SSL program in MCPS by visiting the SSL website at www.mcpsssl.org or speaking with the SSL coordinator in your school. This short lesson plan focuses on helping students understand what an SSL is: Essential Questions What must a student do to meet the SSL requirement? How can a student, an individual, help make a difference and provide a necessary service? Vocabulary Advocacy action, citizenship, direct action, indirect action, reflection, service, student service learning (SSL), stewardship Engage Complete the SSL Skill Interest and Survey attachment. Explain There are three phases of Student Service Learning (SSL). 1. Preparation: Students will prepare to make a meaningful contribution by identifying and understanding a community need. This will require study, research, and planning. 2. Action: Students will act to make the contribution and be a community partner. The identified community need is addressed through at least one of three ways: o Direct Action—you are face-to-face with the recipients of your service, such as in tutoring, visiting children in hospitals, and serving at soup kitchens or on-site of the recipients, o Indirect Action—students have no direct contact with the service recipients, such as in collecting food and clothing or conducting fundraising events. o Advocacy Action—students work to raise awareness or create change, such as participating in community events, writing letters, giving legislative testimony, or creating public service announcements. 3. Reflection: Students will reflect on the service that they provided. They will consider the benefits of their service to the community, as well as, what character traits have been strengthened, what skills have been gained, what careers have been explored, and what sense of community they have developed. Explore for Grade 6: In small groups: 1. What are some local environmental problems that need addressing? 2. What are some possible solutions/actions to those problems/issues that can be performed by students during the school day?