Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 6: Civic Engagement  
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Workshop 6

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Teacher Perspectives: Service learning credits

Bill Mittlefehldt: At Anoka High School, you have to do 10 hours of service to graduate. Now, that’s not a very high criterion but the fact that we have 3,300 kids makes it significant. Service learning [credits] are given for doing [things] out of school, [for example], working with a community partner. The team that was making signs for four hours with the commissioner and the mayor is getting four hours of credit. The kids who interacted at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, they’re getting credit for the hours they spent out of school working on that.

Your government teacher in ninth grade might say, “Why don’t you go to a party caucus meeting? Or why don’t you go interview somebody from the Republican Party?” When you do what you’re told, you get the service hours because it was done outside of school to try and understand your community better. In 11th and 12th grade, I say, “When you do these hours outside of school, I’m going to give you as many hours as it takes for you to give an effective presentation before the county, the state, the city, whomever.” The kids who present [to the City Council] are getting hours of credit for serving the community. We try and use it as a vehicle for reinforcing and affirming their contributions to the community. It’s a very cheap reward but it shows the kids that somebody’s paying attention and we’re affirming the best part of their adolescent character. We try and make sure that all the kids have a venue outside the school to demonstrate their service.

[Students] have to fill out a form and turn in the hours, and we log it on the computer that’s keeping track for the entire school. Just to manage that is significant. So we have one staff person who gets one hour a day to manage the entire database. Service learning at Anoka High School is managed through our Office of Service Learning. However, it’s administered through the social studies department, generally speaking.


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