Healthy Hammond (health, nutrition and fitness)
World Cultures Project (diversity appreciation)
Peer Buddy Project, Sherry Unger Winner June & July 2007
Reforestation at the Howard County Conservation Property
A class of 7th grade students at Elkridge Landing Middle School engaged in a service-learning reforestation project by planting trees at the Howard County Conservation Property. This project allowed students to apply their knowledge of this unit, reflect on how their actions impact the environment, and boosted their self-esteem because they realized they had made a difference in the world.
Kids CAN Make a Difference!
After 9/11/01, many students reported feeling depressed or anxious about the future. They were overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems facing their future and felt powerless in their ability to affect change. Research recognizes the importance of students' awareness of societal problems, but suggests that it is equally important to teach students the strategies and skills for solving these problems (Hungerford & Volk, 1991). This supports a growing movement in service-learning that provides students with a more balanced view of the world by focusing on solutions in addition to problems (Chesapeake: Choices & Challenges 1995). By teaching our youth skills for identifying and solving problems, the "Have a Heart for the Homeless" project provided an excellent framework for enhancing self-efficacy and self-esteem (Conrad & Hedin, 1991). Our 8th grade students completed an indirect service-learning project in January and February 2002. It was our goal that students demonstrate every individual's role in affecting positive change. In fact, our motto throughout this project was, "Kids CAN make a difference!" We worked with a local homeless shelter to collect personal hygiene items at our school, which were then donated to adults and families in need in Howard County. All of our activities were created to help, in some way, individuals who are underprivileged in our community.
The most memorable service-learning experience that I coordinated was the three-year partnership that Patapsco Middle School had with Patapsco State park. Students were concerned that the park was experiencing cut backs in seasonal staff and that the appearance of certain park facilities was unsatisfactory to them. The park was more than eager to support efforts to formalize a partnership with our school. Students and I immediately connected the partnership to our science, social studies and English curriculum. We began to study about plant species, saving the environment and writing action plans about ways that we could assist the park. Park Rangers began to come into our school and teach students about the park, career opportunities and what exactly we would be doing when we made our visits. During these discussions, I realized that the school did not own the necessary equipment (rakes, pliers, gloves) that would be needed to accomplish our work. I called a local hardware store and asked for donations. They were more than happy to assist us and we created a formal partnership between Sewells Ace Hardware and our school that continues to exist. Many visitations went on throughout the school year. Small groups of students would go to the park and spend most of the day working and learning about the environment. When students would return to the school, students would spend time reflecting about the experience by writing journal entries. Pictures and written stories were created for the school bulletin boards. After the first year of the project, many teachers began to get involved with the partnership. Patapsco State Park eventually placed a beautiful plaque at the entrance to the park recognizing the work of our students.
DisAbility Awareness in the 7th grade at Dunloggin Middle School creates an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance within the student community. These goals are achieved through curricular infused lessons, school-wide collection activities, and a partnership with the middle school students in our county's school for the profoundly disabled. Through a school-wide penny drive, evening school-wide talent show, and the partnership activities and field trips, the entire community is made aware of the need for understanding and acceptance of those who are disAbled. Lessons infused into the 7th grade curriculum in all subject areas allow for discussion of many topics and all aspects of disAbility Awareness. Small group discussions, artwork in small groups, and individual written reflections allow the children to share in a variety of venues. A core focus group plans and executes activities with our partnership school. A school-wide penny drive and talent show offer opportunities for all 7th graders to plan and facilitate large group activities. We contacted the community school that fit our need to see how we could best support them with our resources and services. Together, with the administration and staff, we created a list of needs for each year of the partnership. Every summer the program is revised to meet the changing needs of the community and the curriculum. Students participate in a variety of simulations to experience the needs of those who are less able. Through infused lessons, speakers who share their experiences as disAbled, partnership activities with the middle school children who are profoundly disAbled, and participating in dAp Day (a Howard County program crated by teacher, Anne Wade, that provides a variety of speakers who have disAblilties and are willing to share their experiences with the students) our students have the experiences to equip them in the real world as a sensitive, caring, understanding community member.
As part of my math class, students raise money through fundraisers. These fundraisers are incorporated into my curriculum as lessons on small business and bookkeeping. The money is used to buy food to donate to shelters. The students meet the people they are serving and realize that they are real people who need and appreciate the help. This is an ongoing project.
My students support the Domestic Violence Center of Howard Co. They devise and execute activities that they feel will help the children of domestic violence, ie. birthday boxes, school and art supplies, holiday toy drives. They accomplish this by having fundraisers, soliciting donations from the community, and setting up a "spare change" jar during the lunch periods. Students also interact with senior citizens at the Ellicott City Senior Center.
The restoration of Historic St. Paul's Cemetery is a school-based service-learning model which enables 8th graders to perform service and enjoy educational experiences that are mutually related. It has been an on-going project at PMS since 1990 in which students research the lives of people buried in a historic mill town cemetery dating from 1841. Students have worked in the legislative process at both county and state levels to gain legal protection for historic cemeteries. Students are plotting pathways, planting historically correct ground cover, and working with Water Resources Department to gain access to the site over an adjacent creek.
At-Risk Student Mentoring Program
Teaching young people to mentor and serve others as a gateway to accelerated academic achievement! The following project was piloted during the spring semester of 2000. The purpose was to accelerate the achievement of two distinct groups of students through mentoring service-learning. An older student with poor academic performance and severe behavior, discipline referrals and academic difficulties was one partner in this effort. He was taught to mentor/tutor a second grader with a similar profile. Preparation, Action and Reflection activities included the skills necessary for tutoring and reinforcement as an instructional strategy. Activity-based tutoring was also implemented for both students. This afforded the older student with the skills necessary to teach the younger child. Discussions also occurred as reflection activities. This work is supported by the Brandeis Report which calls for frequent and continued service-learning opportunities. Recommendation: it is crucial for this type of effort to include a collaborative problem solving approach with the grade level team.
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