The Sophomore Project
As one of the top Service Learning schools in the nation, Pioneer High School requires students to participate in a multidisciplinary yearlong project in which students connect their study of a world problem (part of the content and common core standards) with community service (a SJUSD requirement for graduation). Students begin the school year looking at various world problems and then select one world problem they study and perform community service for during the year. The purpose of the project is to encourage students to gain knowledge about a world problem through research, reflection (learning) and a hands-on community service experience (serving). This project truly asks students to think globally, [and] act locally, which helps to achieve SJUSD’s goal that all students master 21st century skills.
Sophomore Project Components
Introduction to World Problems Lessons: Teachers introduce students to the concepts of service learning, social responsibility, and guide students through the process of selecting a world problem and pursuing community service.
Community Inquiry: Students will use Internet research to investigate services in their local community that address the spectrum of global issues. This is meant to help students find service opportunities in their community.
Sophomore Project Contract: On this contract, students formally (and finally) select their world problem. Students indicate the world problem they have chosen, as well as list community service agencies they will pursue for community service. Students must discuss this choice with their parents/guardians, as the form requires a parent signature. After this form is submitted, students will not be permitted to change their topic.
Community Service Logs: Students will complete five journal entries each semester, describing and reflecting upon their community service. Although these logs are submitted once a semester, the logs should be completed simultaneously with the community service.
Current Event Assignments: Each week students will complete a current event assignment, detailing how their world problem is in the news
Research Paper: Students learn how to research incorporating a variety of sources through organized research techniques. Evidence from research is used to compile an essay that includes both facts and analysis on the causes, effects, and solutions of the world problem. Students use MLA format to compile a works consulted list.
Original Poem: Students write a poem inspired by their Sophomore Project.
Reflective Essay: After completing their community service, students will reflect upon their experiences and describe the impact they made on their community.
Students work alone or with 1-2 other people to create a 3-Panel board, which reflects their yearlong work. On the board students display pictures of themselves doing community service, their poem, a community service log, a quote and other information related to the world problem including graphs to educate the viewer. The board also incorporates a creativity aspect.
Along with the board students put together a binder with their written pieces. The projects are set-up in the LMC at PHS in May to enable the community to learn about various world problems and to recognize students’ hard work.