Unlocking the Heart for Cancer

Thurmont Middle School 7th Grade Language Arts, Frederick County, Kelley Fujii

Students read several informative articles and watched United Streaming clips to develop a better understanding of cancer and then completed activities which support Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) Curriculum using the information they learned. A fellow teacher spoke about leukemia from which her daughter suffers to broaden student understanding of the broad variety of types of cancer. Students collected donations to be shared between a local support group for victims of cancer and to help develop a support group in the town where my mother, an ovarian cancer patient, lives. My mother came and spoke to the students about her experience with ovarian cancer. In addition, students read about the program “Locks of Love” and watched a video clip as I had my hair cut off to be donated for a wig for a child with cancer.

Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?

My mother was diagnosed with cancer and found attending a support group very helpful, but there were none in the town where she lives. She is a minister and expressed an interest in starting one in her community. We researched and found out that our local support group was also in need of funding. The students were shown that they can help others and make a difference. Any cancer patients who attend the local support group meetings or those in Mrs. Fujii’s support group were helped by this project.

Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?

The information from articles and the United Streaming video clips was used to meet the following indicators from FCPS curriculum:
  • compare and contrast with prior knowledge as well as each other
  • students drew inferences from the information and acted upon them
  • students were able to explain the usefulness of the information
  • students wrote letters to thank the two guest speakers, Mrs. Zimmerman and Mrs. Fujii
  • Language Usage indicators were met in students’ letter writing

Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?

Students reflected through discussion and a class questionnaire presented after each experience to encourage students to think about their involvement in this project, its impact, and the way their involvement in it would affect them in the future.

Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?

Students had to speak to people as they collected money for our cause, explaining why we were working toward this goal and who it would help. They had to be responsible for keeping track of and turning in their donations.

Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?

We worked with the local cancer support group and Mrs. Fujii, a minister in Pennsylvania.

Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?

I met with our 7th grade language arts team to plan ahead for this project. We found articles and united streaming sites, created our reflection sheet to be used for this assignment, as well as planned the actual lessons. I had to arrange for the guest speakers to come and juggle student schedules to allow them to all be in attendance. Copies of the hearts upon which donators names were written had to be created, as well as pledge sheets. Money had to be collected daily and taken to the office. Lastly, thank you letters had to be mailed and monies distributed.

Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?

Students learned more about cancer – what it is, how you can contract it, new treatments for cancer, as well as how it affects families. They learned to compare and contrast information, make inferences, and write better letters. They learned to be more aware of the needs of others and to reach out to them with empathy. Lastly, they learned that they can be the difference they want to see in the world.