The Southern Middle School Bulldawgs Cookbook

May-June 2005
Sherry Unger Award Winner
Will Tegen and the eighth grade of 2004, Southern Middle School, Anne Arundel County

The Southern Middle School (SMS) Bulldawgs Cookbook was a yearlong project of the eighth grade class of 2004, which demonstrated their dedication to serving the community. Through the project, students became more aware of community and societal needs.

The Southern Middle School class of 2004 proudly took on the challenge of creating and publishing a cookbook in order to share their recipes with family and friends and raise money for their community. Working together with their parents, students gathered histories of family recipes, as well as the recipes themselves. They then researched local charities to select a program to which they could donate the $1750 cookbook proceeds.

Best Practice 1: Meet a recognized need in the community.

After researching charities, the students chose to donate the proceeds of their cookbook to South County Assistance Network (SCAN). The chose SCAN because of its dedication to the local community. SCAN assists local families who are in need of food, energy, and basic necessities.

Best Practice 2: Achieve curricular objectives through service-learning.

Students developed and enhanced important academic and social skills through the project. The service-learning project was connected to many curricular areas including English, math, science, social studies and art. The following course objectives were addressed though the service-learning project:

  • Computer technology - students used computers for artwork, layout, organization, and data entry;
  • Design and layout - students typed their recipes in formats to fit the cookbook and added clipart. They also designed section dividers and a cover;
  • Measurement skills - a measurements chart was added to the cookbook and measurements taught in math and family and consumer sciences classes;
  • Writing - students had to write a brief constructed response about their charity;
  • Democratic process - Eighth graders listened to brief constructed responses and then voted on one charity to select;
  • Poetry - students were required to create a poem related to food as part of the English curriculum;
  • Oral history - students were required to interview their family members to discover the histories behind the submitted recipes;
  • Research and analysis - students conducted research and read about the local charities and had to select one to be the beneficiary of their donation;
  • Team work - students worked in teams to assemble the cookbooks;
  • Leadership - students applied for editorial positions with the project. The editors were picked from across the eighth grade to successfully lead the class in making the cookbooks;
  • Organization skills - students organized the assembly line to make the many parts of the cookbook;
  • Community partnerships - students sought sponsors for the cookbook. They also invited the community to a potluck dinner night at the school.

The primary objective was to create a cross curriculum project. Science and social studies engaged students in the research and brief constructed responses activities. English involved students in writing poetry and editing. Math and family and consumer sciences had students constructing measurement tools. Art helped students create and design covers for the cookbook sections and a front cover. Music and theatre groups entertained at the potluck dinner by performing jazz and Shakespeare.

The students were focused and fully engaged from the beginning. Using the computer to their advantage, they created digital folders for the sections of the cookbook. The computer kept the recipes alphabetized in their sections. The most challenging part of the process was the hole punching and assembly of the cookbook. Hole punching was very time consuming. The goal was to raise at least $500 for a charity through the project. Students far exceeded their original goal and raised $1750 for SCAN.

Best Practice 3: Reflect throughout the service-learning experience.

Participants felt a great sense of accomplishment and are extremely proud of their finished project. Students shared their project with the local community. Our project has been spotlighted in local media and recognized at a Maryland State Board of Education meeting.

Best Practice 4: Develop student responsibility.

Throughout the year, participants addressed different parts of the project and were exposed to new skills. Skills developed ranged from organization to direct marketing of the cookbook.

Best Practice 5: Establish community partnerships.

The eighth grade class selected SCAN to be the beneficiary of the cookbook profits. Other community partnerships were established when advertising space in the cookbook was sold to local merchants.

Best Practice 6: Plan ahead for service-learning.

The eighth grade teachers met and brainstormed about the project. A timeline was created and committees were set up to address the separate segments of the project. Teachers worked together to structure the project. Student editors applied for, and were selected for, positions of leadership. Students and teachers worked together during their lunch periods to complete the SMS Bulldawg Cookbook.

Best Practice 7: Equip students with knowledge and skills needed for service.

The students took this opportunity to enhance skills learned at Southern Middle School. They developed skills in: computer technology, design and layout, marketing, measurement, writing, poetry, research, teamwork, leadership, and organization.