A Guide to Creating High School Service Learning Projects with Students with Special Needs

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1 A Guide to Creating High School Service Learning Projects with Students with Special Needs What is Service Learning? Implementing Service Learning Barriers to Service Learning Methods of Teaching Complex Social Skills Methods of Teaching Complex Skills Methods of Teaching Self-Evaluation Planning Charts & Checklists Helpful References

2 High School Service Learning Projects The Definition (Dymond 2008): Learning (i.e., preparation for the activity) Service (i.e., performing the actual service) Reflection (i.e., processing what was learned) Celebration (i.e., of accomplishments) Programs meet the needs of all students because they easily blend academic skills, functional skills, and promote critical thinking. As a result, it is possible for students with very diverse abilities to actively participate in meaningful ways (Dymond 2008) Participate in their community in meaningful ways. (Meaningful for the Students) Methods for Service Learning Implementation (Dymond 2008): Activity Selection and Structure Give students choices Place students in situations where they will be successful Choose activities depending on students ability level Include more hands-on activities Offer a variety of activities Assess students to determine their capabilities Start with smaller, teacher initiated projects Expectations Have the same expectations for students with and without disabilities Treat students with disabilities like everyone else Expect students to participate Allow students to fail Encouragement Allow student ownership of the project Get to know the students with disabilities Ask students how they would like to be involved in service learning (varied roles) Allow students to have an active role in decision-making Grouping Pair students with and without disabilities to complete projects Include normal proportions of students with and without disabilities Modifications Provide additional instruction Provide supplementary instruction in the special education classroom Modify the rules when needed Modify grading practices Barriers for Service Learning Implementation (Dymond 2008) Resources Not enough transportation Lack of money Too much effort required to coordinate the inclusion Lack of administrative support Not enough people/staff

3 Staff turnover Lack of proper equipment (e.g., washroom, chairs) in the community Not enough time to work with students with disabilities Teacher attributes and experience Lack of knowledge about students disabilities Negative attitudes toward students with disabilities Low expectations of students with disabilities Lack of experience with students with disabilities Need for staff development and training Teachers don t have the patience to work with students with disabilities Organizational structure Schedules of students with disabilities are not flexible Students with disabilities have a shortened school day Too many students with disabilities in service learning classes Students with disabilities need to be more visible in the school Planning Lack of communication among staff about students with disabilities Not enough time to co-plan Student characteristics Students with disabilities are afraid of participating in the service activities

4 Teaching Individuals with Social and Communication Delays: Teaching Complex Skills one problem that may exist when trying to include students with a limited communication/ social repertoire, is how to teach interviewing skills, interpersonal skills, and the ability to work with community partners. It may be beneficial to use a social skills curriculum, as well as behavioral skills training and video modeling as a way to increase the socially acceptable skills. Behavioral Skills Training (Stewart, Carr & LeBlanc, 2007) 1. Instructions Describing the behaviors in which the learner is to engage as well as the conditions under which the behaviors are to occur (Miltenberger, 2008) 2. Modeling Involves showing an example of the behavior to the learner 3. Rehearsal (student) The learner carries out the behavior with a trainer providing feedback in the form of praise for executing the behavior accurately and correction for parts inaccurately executed (Miltenberger, 2008) Operationally define for a student what is expected. Provide the student with examples and nonexamples for clarity. Student must have observational learning repertoire Can use peer models, teacher models or video modeling Limit to one or two skills at a time, then expand Once the student has watched the model, allow the student the opportunity to rehearse the skill(s) presented by the model. If the student doesn t complete the skills accurately and independently, repeat the model and rehearse again. 4. Feedback (trainer) Feedback can be given based on discussion of good performance and areas of improvement, simple praise, or through a token economy. It will depend on your student.

5 Teaching Complex Skills to Individuals with Autism and Other Related Disabilities Teaching Complex Skills one problem that may exist when trying to include students with a limited repertoire of skills, is how to teach more complex skills. Steps that may be helpful could include: 1. Place students in crews, and give each of them only one or two complex skills to learn. It would also be beneficial to include peer models, or peer mentors in this crew (maybe their service learning would be how to help the special education students on transition skills). 2. Identify the individual component skills that make up each complex skill in a task analysis and teach the complex skill using a behavior chain. Task Analysis - According to Cooper, Heron & Heward (1987), a task analysis is breaking apart a complex skill into a series of smaller behaviors (p. 342). When writing a task analysis the idea is to write the individual component skills as steps in the order they are to be completed. When creating a task analysis you may want to: Watch another individual who has mastered the skill perform it and write down each behavior you see Perform the skill yourself, and write down each behavior you complete Consult with an individual who is skilled in writing task analysis Consider the temporal order of the skills to be mastered; does the individual already have any consecutive individual component skills (steps) mastered? Behavior Chain - According to Cooper, Heron & Heward (1987), a behavior chain is a sequence of responses that when linked together form a larger more complex skill (p ). For example, think of the links an elementary child might make out of colored construction paper to put on a Christmas tree. Each link is an individual component of a larger chain, if they were not linked together, the chain would fall apart. Types of Behavior Chains: Forward (p. 351): The sequence of steps identified on the task analysis are taught in temporal order and one-at-a-time (i.e., from start to finish). When starting training the first step, teaching could take any of the following options: o Provide assistance on the first step, provide reinforcer, teacher completes the rest of the steps (modeling for the child) o Provide assistance on the first step, provide reinforcer, and manually hand-over-hand guide the student through the remaining steps o Provide assistance on the first step, provide reinforcer, and stop the chain at the training step. Total Task (p. 352): A variation of forward chaining, in which all steps are taught in temporal order. Assistance is provided on any step that cannot be performed independently. Backward (p. 354): The sequence of steps identified on the task analysis are taught in reverse temporal order and one-at-a-time (i.e., from finish to start). When starting training the last step, teaching could take any of the following options: o Teacher completes the preceding steps (modeling for the child), provide assistance on the last step, and then provide reinforcer. o Manually hand-over-hand guide the student through the preceding steps, provide assistance on the last step (training step), and provide reinforcer.

6 o Start at the training step (the last step) and provide assistance on the last step, and then provide reinforcer. 3. Use technology to link skills Picture Activity Schedules provide students with picture supports of another completing the activity/ job the student should be completing. These picture schedules can be built into a larger chain to help fade staff supports. Use Video Modeling provide students with the opportunity to watch through a video model the actions the student should be completing. Using video modeling has been shown to be highly effective and results in minimal costs. If there is a video program in the high school, consider having student learning to take and edit video create a service learning project of modeling these skills for students who need to learn the skills. Timers/ Schedules of Reinforcement Use timer based activities for increasing duration of time ontask by Placing a vibrating timer on a student set to a variable interval (most effective schedule). This timer may signal reinforcement, or be used to help remind the student to stay on-task. For students who are cognitively more delayed or are unmotivated to work for long durations, you may want to provide reinforcement on a variable interval schedule. o Determine what the average duration of on-task behavior is, then provide reinforcement just under the average duration until the student is able to contact the reinforcement for at least 3 consecutive intervals, then increase the duration. Repeat the steps until you can fade reinforcement or the student is working for an acceptable period of the day.

7 Teaching Self-Evaluation/ Assessment Self-Evaluation one problem that may exist when trying to incorporate the self-evaluation piece of service learning, is that not all students are able to self-evaluate, and some may only develop a limited repertoire. Options for self-evaluation may include (can address more than one): 1. Group Discussions Students who are capable of verbally communicating about their experience, could share in a group forum in the class linked to service learning. 2. Daily Journal/ Portfolio of Service Learning Project Students who are capable of composing written language by either writing or typing can record information about: What the student did What the student learned that day What the student wanted to learn that day How it related to coursework (what learned skills from class were used in service) Other comments 3. Picture Communication/ Portfolio of Service Learning Project Students who are not capable of elaborated written communication, or those who may exhibit noncompliant or disruptive behavior with the demands of a writing task, can record information in picture form: Sequence pictures to show the activities completed in service Pick a picture of a skill they have continued to work on Graph their improved performance on a skill Draw/ select a picture of how the work made them feel Draw/ select a picture of what they liked the best Draw/ select a picture of what they liked the least Other comments 4. Preference Assessments Students who are significantly impacted by cognitive skills, can be offered the opportunity to pick skills they prefer to complete using preference assessments. The common choices of preference assessments are: Forced Choice (picture, written or tangible) assessment 6-8 activities are chosen, 2 items are presented at one time. Each item is placed with all the other activities twice, so that they are placed in each position. Multiple Stimulus With Replacement (picture, written or tangible) assessment 6-8 activities are chosen. All activities are given as an option. The student selects an activity, the activity is marked, the activities are shifted in location and the activity selected IS placed back in the line in a new location. Multiple Stimulus Without Replacement (picture, written or tangible) assessment 6-8 activities are chosen. All activities are given as an option. The student selects an activity, the activity is marked, the activities are shifted in location and the activity selected IS NOT placed back in the line in a new location.

8 Authentic Context 1. Meets the needs of the school, students & community 2. Activities are purposeful & meaningful Program Evaluation Checklist 3. Activities involve real (not simulated) work to solve current problems in the community. 4. Students perform service in the actual setting 5. Activities may not be purposeful or meaningful for all students Link to the Curriculum 1. Strong partnerships between school/ community exist & are sustained over time. 2. Clearly defined roles and expectations for all partners 3. Parents, students, & community are involved in planning, implementing, evaluating service learning. 4. Public and private organizations provide resources (human, technical, financial) 5. Community members serve as learners and teachers 6. Teachers collaborate to develop curriculum 7. Opportunities are available for all people in a community to participate in the solutions 8. Collaboration and coordination among partners results in mutual benefit 9. There is clear, frequent, and effective communication among the participants involved 10. Partnerships result in group effort toward a common goal 11. Formal and informal roles exist among partners Authentic Context 1. The building/ district administration is supportive of the program & demonstrate active support of the program 2. Resources are available: a. Scheduling is flexible b. Transportation is flexible c. Protection against liability d. Financial resources (grant and school district funding) 3. A designated school member coordinates the program 4. An advisory board exists (may be needed, but shouldn t be preventative of SL). 5. Teachers/ admin/ others involved w/sl receive ongoing professional development/ technical assistance 6. Students w/ &w/out disabilities follow the same school schedule. 7. There is state-level leadership for service learning (e.g., technical assistance, training, funding, materials, dissemination, connection to local schools) 8. Local administrators support inclusive education 9. Local administrators assume a philosophy of a school without walls. 10. Schools seek visible recognition for their service learning program Frequency of Instruction 1. Service learning involves structures, extended learning opportunities 2. Participants have sustained contact with the clients 3. Intensity and duration of a project varies 4. Most projects involve a short-term and long-term investigation 5. There should be a variety of service learning projects across the year Planning and Preparation 1. Student interests & community needs area assessed to determine appropriate activities 2. Students receive instruction prior to providing service (gain new knowledge, learn skills, review the ground rules) 3. Characteristics of effective planning a. Adults & students work collaboratively to plan service learning activities b. Projects are thoughtfully planned with sufficient time devoted to preparation c. A variety of activities are identified d. The complexity of the tasks may vary e. Activities build on each other f. Logistics are coordinated g. Open-ended questions are selected for investigation h. Planning is flexible and allows for spontaneity i. Projects are initiated by students, teachers or community members Demonstrated Not Demonstrated

9 Action Demonstrated Not Demonstrated 1. The service can be an individual or group/ team project 2. It occurs in the school or the community 3. The type of service provided depends on students interests (community need is 1 st priority). 4. Service involves at least some face-to-face interactions 5. Students interact with diverse people (culture, age, etc) in the community 6. Students have a choice about the projects win which they engage Reflection 1. All participants (students, teachers, parents, community members) are provided with structured times to reflect on the experience. 2. During reflection, students a. Think about their participation in the activities b. Reflect on how the community experience relates to their academic learning c. Discuss concerns & questions d. Make connections between what they learned & how they could use that knowledge in the future e. Blend their understanding of ideals and realities, and f. Identify how the service project could be improved in the future 3. Reflections occur before, during, and after the service activities 4. Reflections may involve discussions, oral dialogues, writing, or artistic presentations 5. Reflections may be completed by individuals or by teams 6. Reflections occur both formally and informally Celebration 1. Time is set-aside at the end of the service learning activity for celebration 2. Participants celebrate each other 3. Celebration occurs with all participants (school, community) 4. May generate a final product that is given to the community at the time of the celebration 5. Celebrations can be both formal and informal 6. Celebrations occur immediately after a project 7. Celebrations should include extrinsic and intrinsic rewards Student Assessment and Program Evaluation 1. Student assessment is embedded throughout the service learning experience 2. The type of student assessment matches the type of service learning activity 3. Students are assessed individually and as a team 4. The assessment documents & evaluates how well students have met the content standards 5. Formative and summative evaluations of service learning projects are conducted 6. School and community participants debrief to evaluate each project 7. Everyone associated with the service learning project (e.g., students, teachers, parents, community members) participates in the evaluation process 8. Program evaluation data are used to improve future projects & create a permanent record and product outcomes Student Participation and Ownership 1. Students who participate in service learning a. Share leadership with teachers/ adults b. Make choices about how to design and implement a project c. Have decision-making power d. Actively participate e. Are expected to demonstrate autonomy f. Assume responsibility g. Participate in the construction of their own knowledge h. Engage in tasks that challenge and stretch them cognitively i. Apply new skills and knowledge j. Use academic skills to provide service to the community k. Practice communication skills l. Learn to negotiate m. Test new roles n. Become learners and teachers o. Assume ownership for the project and for their own learning p. Assist in determining the need for the project q. Serve as role models r. Try out new experiences that are outside their comfort zone

10 Teacher, Adult, & Community Participation Demonstrated Not Demonstrated 1. Adults & teachers a. Share leadership with students b. Provide guidance in setting goals c. Give students responsibility d. Serve as facilitators to student learning e. Supervise and monitor students f. Provide support to students during service activities g. Give advice h. Serve as role models i. Mentor students j. Listen k. offer ideas l. demonstrate respect for students m. have a relationship with the students n. provide verbal praise to students o. are open to learning from students 2. Teachers teach students the skills needed to complete the activity & provide additional instruction as the need arises during the project

11 Service Learning Program Planning Chart Elements Taken from Elements of Effective High School Service Learning Programs That Include Students With and Without Disabilities Authentic Context The project will be purposeful & meaningful and meet the needs of the school, students & community, incorporating real (not simulated) work to solve current problems in the community. Context: The Need: Project: Link to the Curriculum Parents, students, & community are involved in planning, implementing, evaluating service learning. Students and community members have clearly defined roles & expectations. All partners have the ability to teach and learn and collaborate on the development of curriculum. The Plan: Participants: School Staff: Curriculum/ Classes: Home, School, and Community Partnerships The building/ district administration is supportive of the program & demonstrate active support of the program. Resources are available, and a designated school member coordinates the program. Teachers/ administrators and others involved with Service Learning receive ongoing professional development and technical assistance Administrative Support: Transportation: Liability: Resources: Designated School Member: Professional Development: Resources: Service learning involves structures, extended learning opportunities Student interests & community needs area assessed to determine appropriate activities and receive instruction prior to providing service (gain new knowledge, learn skills, review the ground rules). The service takes place in the school or community and the type of service provided depends on students interests. Students can work as individuals or in a group/ team project with at least some face-to-face interactions. The project involves student choice. Frequency of Instruction Freq & Dur = Collaboration Time: Planning and Preparation Action Characteristics of effective planning * * * * Location: Team Based: Choice: Student Interest: Partner Contact: Reflection Reflection Time: Reflection Type: All participants (students, teachers, parents, community members) are Reflection Questions: (or adapt as appropriate) provided with structured times to reflect on the experience. Think about their participation in the activities Reflections occur before, during, and after the service activities. Reflect on how the community experience relates to their academic learning Discuss concerns & questions Make connections between what they learned & how they could use that knowledge in the future Blend their understanding of ideals and realities, and Celebration Celebration occurs with all participants (school, community)

12 SAMPLE: Service Learning Program Planning Chart Elements Taken from Elements of Effective High School Service Learning Programs That Include Students with and Without Disabilities Authentic Context The project will be purposeful & meaningful and meet the needs of the school, students & community, incorporating real (not simulated) work to solve current problems in the community. Parents, students, & community are involved in planning, implementing, evaluating service learning. Students and community members have clearly defined roles & expectations. All partners have the ability to teach and learn and collaborate on the development of curriculum. The building/ district administration is supportive of the program & demonstrate active support of the program. Resources are available, and a designated school member coordinates the program. Teachers/ administrators and others involved with Service Learning receive ongoing professional development and technical assistance Link to the Curriculum Home, School, and Community Partnerships Frequency of Instruction Context: Summer Program The Need: At the end of the summer program there is a cookout to celebrate the end of the summer that is usually planned by staff and requires additional demands on school personnel. Project: Students will plan the cookout, celebrate other students success, & activities based on information learned in previous school year/ summer coursework. The Plan: Students will work together to determine their individual roles with guidance from school personnel &/ or maybe peer volunteers to plan an end of the summer celebration Participants: Students will plan, implement & evaluate their project with guidance from respective teachers. They will present to teachers/ school personnel School Staff: BCBA/ SPED Coord/ Teachers will meet periodically (at least once a week) to discuss project & instructional needs. Discussion may be need driven or to review progress. Other members of the community may be invited to participate. Curriculum/ Classes: Culinary Arts, Woodshop, Transition, Social Skills, Math, English Administrative Support: SPED Coordinator part of planning process Transportation: Not yet determined beyond transportation to school, but mostly will take place on school grounds Liability: Consent forms signed for transportation, protocols/ consent forms for woodshop and culinary arts Resources: Part of Extended Year/ Summer Program (ESY) to address MA initiative for Connecting Activities (CA). Designated School Member: BCBA Professional Development: Staff not yet hired, so needs for PD not yet determined. Resources: MA Work-Based Learning Plan and Freq & Dur = 3x300 min/ wk for 5 wks Service learning involves structures, extended learning opportunities Collaboration Time: Students will attend hour long classes, time will be set aside in each class to collaborate with each other about the project Planning and Preparation Student interests & community needs area assessed to determine appropriate activities and receive instruction prior to providing service (gain new knowledge, learn skills, review the ground rules). The service takes place in the school or community and the type of service provided depends on students interests. Students can work as individuals or in a group/ team project with at least some face-to-face interactions. The project involves student choice. All participants (students, teachers, parents, community members) are provided with structured times to reflect on the experience. Reflections occur before, during, and after the service activities. Celebration occurs with all participants (school, community) Action Reflection Characteristics of effective planning *Adults will explain the purpose of the project and give general guidelines. *Adults &/ or peer volunteers will provide assistance in facilitating the group where communication deficits are present *Adults will provide essential information at start of project (available budget, resources available at school) *Adults will provide questions for thought to increase communication/ stimulate thought. Location: The School Team Based: Group project, but students may assign individual pieces. Choice: Some choices within, but overall project selected for them based on community need and coursework Student Interest: Students selected for group have transition plans discussed at team meetings that specify working on culinary/ computer and social skills in the context of academic content. Partner Contact: Daily face-to-face interactions Reflection Time: Reflection will take place at the end of each class period. Reflection Type: Students will complete a Service Learning Daily Journal in which they record what they have talked about, how it relates to academic content, questions they have, etc. 7. Written, typed, pictures, drawings, forced choice preference assessment Reflection Questions: Think about their participation in the activities Reflect on how the community experience relates to their academic learning Discuss concerns & questions Make connections between what they learned & how they could use that knowledge in the future Blend their understanding of ideals and realities Celebration Cookout will be the celebration of their service learning project. Hand out certificate of achievements for scavenger hunt

13 SAMPLE: My Service Learning Journal Today is Today I worked on. We talked about. We decided to. My task is to work on. I learned. I learned how to do this in. I would like to learn to. I could ask about this in. I really liked. I didn t really like. Anything else I would like to share: Today I give my performance stars for.

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