Victory Garden Project
Aiming to Cure Cancer (Health)
I Clean, You Clean, We all Clean for Nice Streams
Biology students from Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland, spent one week removing trash and debris from a local tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Working together over several hot and humid days in June of 2007, the students managed to haul away about 1000 pounds of trash from a local stream. In addition, to determine the overall health of the stream, students collected water quality data including; pH, temperature and salinity. This hands-on activity was an extension of the ecology unit in the PGCPS Biology Curriculum. This service-learning project, along with an associated field trip to the Bay, was funded by Johnson Controls, Inc. and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
Local and Global Water Quality
The Berwyn Heights Elementary School water quality project (2006-present) combines student creation and maintenance of three Chesapeake Bay Trust rain gardens, construction of a rain barrel in our courtyard, and water quality testing of Still Creek and the Chesapeake Bay (NorthBay). Fifth and sixth grade students are currently partnering with a sister school in Italy to compare water test results, strategies and action plans to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and the Bay of Naples.
Adopt a Park
This ongoing project was the idea of our 5th grade GOLD (Generating Outstanding Leadership Development) students who were asked to select and implement an environmental project with a committee of six 4th and 5th grade students. They selected Pop’s Park because it is located within a block of the school, making it easy for the students to maintain and because it was a way of getting involved in the local government. This service-learning project combines direct service when the students are cleaning and planting in the park, indirect service when the students have fundraisers to purchase plants and equipment to improve the park and create rain gardens there, and service through advocacy when the students collaborate with the city council and public works department concerning types of plants, access to water, and simple repairs to equipment. Visits are planned for the fall and the spring.
The Leo Club
We developed an international service club called The Leo Club at our school which is sponsored by the local Lions Club. The purpose of the club is to serve the community.
We conducted a school-wide clothes and food drive for items to be used in a pantry housed at our school. The project originated when two families in our school were burned out of their place of residence. So many clothing items and canned food were donated to help those two families that we decided to keep the overflow in a pantry to assist people who needed help in the future. My project initially helped families that lost everything in a fire. The project has extended to other students and their families as needs arise. The pantry is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Students studied the issue of homelessness, wrote personal expressions, and shared ideas about the effects of poverty and homelessness on individuals and families in the community. Students reflected by writing in journals in Language Art classes. We've had individual students in our building that live in a shelter. One student agreed to have an open discussion about his situation with other students. Students bring in items for the pantry and help distribute resources as needed. Donations were taken from the greater community as well as student donations. For the initial project, we could not plan ahead because of the immediate nature of the need. Subsequently, students viewed the video "Shelter Boy." Language Arts classes wrote essays on homelessness and poverty. Students learned about the issue of issue of homelessness and disasters and used writing skills to reflect on the projects.
Service-learning, or rather the incentive to participate in service-learning, is an essential part of my Environmental Science curriculum. When I plan my lessons, I incorporate service-learning. To a degree only, because there is so much to be done, we have met the need to be aware of the many environmental problems created by the human population on the environment. We must first be aware before situations can be addressed or improved. One major focus of our projects has been the Anacostia River which is very much a part of our Bladensburg High School Community. Here we conduct water tests, observe the living conditions of the aquatic life, plant trees and pick up and sort trash found along the banks. Through service-learning we have been able to meet several curricular objectives. A few of them include: * to study and see ecosystems as models of nature that people might use to work toward environmental sustainability; * to witness first hand some of the causes and effects of various types of pollution; * to participate in recycling -- one of the laws of sustainability; * to better understand the water cycle, carbon cycle, food chains and webs, and various other patterns of nature. To prepare my students for projects I often use the quote, "If it is to be, it is up to me." To work on our environmental projects, we've established community partnerships with a variety of groups that do everything from provide information to pay for substitutes and set up field trips. Some of our partners are: the Anacostia Watershed Society, The Port town Community Development Corporation, The Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commissions - Neighborhood Revitalization Division, The Department of Environmental Education, and Bridging the Watershed - The National Parks Division. After each activity, with both my regular students and members of my environmental club, we reflect on the project. We talk and often write about the significance of what we have done, what effects it might have on our lives as individuals and as members of the population, and how might we improve on these actions in the future. In the classroom, an assessment is done through varying mediums such as observations, projects, and of course, a written exam. Making students award of situations and their causes seems to stir some sense of responsibility in many of my students. Some students seem to have already developed a role of responsibility in their lives. The two before mentioned groups will often, with some words of encouragement from me, use a little positive peer pressure to motivate many of the others.
I sponsor after-school environment awareness programs and work with students to create picture books for special education students. I also coordinate our school's recycling program and Buddy Program.
The Student Government Association established a clean-up day in order to beautify the community. I coordinate the community effort that was developed by the students.
My student government class adopted a needy family. They then broke into groups and each group developed their own service project.
My most memorable service-learning was directing my Advanced Placement Biology students to write gene therapy play. In previous years, my involvement with service-learning had been with the Joseph House Village in Salisbury, Maryland. The major project was gardening, raking and grounds keeping. We also cleaned and cleared to make a playground for children there and conducted a canned food drive for the those in need. Currently, we are collecting environmental data in the GLOBE Program. In addition, we tutor and will soon do after school work with pre-schoolers.
Students work together and select stories that will be performed for Headstart and first grade children. They create manipulatives and follow-up activities that will assist the children in learning.
2000: Our school has adopted a local homeless shelter. Students create kits each season and deliver them to the shelter. The various kits focus on themes such as: School Supplies, Personal Hygiene, Birthday Party, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Valentines Day. Best practices:
Students send quarterly letters to the shelter asking them what supplies are needed. Area women and their children who are homeless are permitted to remain at the shelter for eight weeks. These families are in need of basic items and extra supplies in order to celebrate holidays and birthdays in an austere setting while they seek permanent shelter.
Through the project, students develop their skills in the following areas: decision making communication, cooperative team work, budgeting, and program implementation.
Students reflect on their feelings about the project in journals and create picture displays for each of the projects each season.
Students learn to meet deadlines and adhere to commitments to package the kits and plan deliveries. As noted above, students are also the ones to contact the shelter and assess their needs.
Our school has established partnerships with local hotels, grocery, and hardware chains. They assist us with some of the supplies needed for the kits.
Students plan each year to create different kits for the shelter and to encourage and develop new community partnerships.
Students learn effective brainstorming techniques, how to cooperatively make decisions, and they conduct research on the issue of homelessness.
1998: Adoption of Shepherds Cove Homeless Shelter - baskets, holiday meals; service-learning opportunity resource center; service days at school.
1996: Service-learning projects include: hygiene & school kits for the homeless shelters and adoption schools in disaster areas, recycling, beautification, fundraising, rolling and collating penny drive for elementary school playground fund.
1995: Coordinate school-wide activities, assist with logging hours, developing programs for groups, maintain resource center for staff and students, provide on site service projects and develop SGA's service projects.
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