September & October 2007
Bohemia Manor Middle School 8th Grade Team, Cecil County, Jennifer Steczak
The project consisted of several classroom lessons in October on the development of Chesapeake City and the C&D Canal. Local historians visited with our students in November, and then in April our students participated in a walking tour of the town and completed various beautification projects around the area, including at Helen Titter Park.
Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?
We met with the Town of Chesapeake City, the Parks and Rec. Department, the Arbor Foundation, the Merchant Association, the Historic Commission, and the Civic Association to determine the current needs of this historical town.
Our service project provided clean up services around Chesapeake City, planting, environmental clean up of local watershed areas, and debris clean up at Helen Titter Park.
The Merchants, the residents, and the environment were all helped by our project. The students are now aware of the historical value of Chesapeake City and will hopefully visit the town and use Helen Titter Park more frequently as a result of the team’s efforts to maintain and preserve this area.
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 project was linked to many Maryland Learning Outcomes. Below, the outcomes met are featured by subject area and each section is then followed by a brief description of how students met those outcomes through this project.
Maryland Learning Outcomes:
- Student will demonstrate an understanding of historical and current events using chronological and spatial thinking; develop historical interpretation, frame questions that include collecting and evaluating information from primary and secondary sources.
- Student will examine significant ideas, beliefs and themes; organize patterns and events; and analyze how individuals and societies have changed over time in MD and the US.
- Students will use geographic concepts and processes to examine the role of culture, technology and the environment in the location and distributions of human activities and spatial connections throughout time.
- Student will develop economic reasoning to understand the historical development and current status of economic principles; institutions, and processes needed to be effective citizens, consumers and workers participating in local communities, the nation and the world.
Students were involved in several lessons focusing on the history and development of the C&D Canal and its influence on Chesapeake City. In November, numerous local historians from the Chesapeake City and Cecil County areas spoke to our 8th grade students about their focus on the history of Chesapeake City. In April, our students were led on walking tours of Chesapeake City to see all of the locations they had learned about in the fall. Upon completion of the walking tours, students were split into work groups to assist in various beautification projects around the town. Beautification projects included: a creek clean-up assisted by NorthBay, walking trail improvement in Helen Titter Park, debris clean-up along the C&D Canal, and various other clean up projects at different locations on both the north and south sides of Chesapeake City.
Maryland Learning Outcomes:
- C Fluency - Read orally at an appropriate rate.
- E Comprehension – Before, during and after reading strategies main idea and details applied.
- Comprehension of informational text.
- Analyze text features to facilitate and extend understanding of informational texts.
- Read critically to evaluate informational text.
- 1 - Use the writing process that includes pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing to develop a variety of written products.
- 1d – Manage time and process when writing for a given purpose.
- 1h – Prepare writing for publication (letters).
- 3 – Write to inform using relevant support and a variety of appropriate organizational structures while maintaining an objective perspective.
- 3a – Produce effective informative writing that uses a form suited to audience, topic and clear purpose (friendly letter).
- 5A – Grammar.
- 5B – Usage.
- 5C – Conventions.
- 5D – Spelling.
- 5E – Handwriting.
Students completed various writing activities while learning about Chesapeake City and C&D Canal history during the classroom lessons. For the November guest speaker visitations, students documented what they learned in a historical log. Students also wrote thank you notes to all of our speakers and completed a written reflection upon completion of the entire experience.
Maryland Learning Outcomes:
- 6.0 Listening.
- 1 – Apply and demonstrate listening skills appropriately in a variety of settings and for a variety of purposes.
Several local historians visited our students and shared their knowledge of Chesapeake City and the C&D Canal in November. Students used their listening skills while participating in the walking tours of Chesapeake City.
Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?
During the development of this project, the team, our local service-learning facilitator, Kim Youngblood, and I met with various associations and groups to help establish a partnership for service. After each meeting and at each phase of the project, we discussed what went well and what we needed to improve for next year. Each phase included a revisit session, which allowed all parties involved to share their thoughts on improving and enhancing the project. This will allow the team to further develop the project next school year.
Students were also asked to reflect on each phase of the project. The final reflection piece provided students the opportunity to share how they could take what they have learned and improve the communities in which they live.
Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?
Students were actively engaged in each of the three phases of this project. Students actively questioned and researched the historical value of Chesapeake City and the C&D Canal in the classroom activities in October. In November, students questioned the guest speakers about personal experiences they wanted to share about growing up in Chesapeake City or working in Chesapeake City (Army Corps of Engineers). In April, the students continued gaining information about our local community through the walking tours and the beautification projects. Upon completion, students wrote thank you letters and reflected on the different things they could do in their own communities to help make a difference.
Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?
Many partners were involved in this project including Town of Chesapeake City, Chesapeake City Civic Association, Chesapeake City Parks and Recreation, Arbor Foundation, Planning and Zoning Committee, Historic Commission, Merchant Association, and Kim Youngblood, Cecil County Public Schools Service-Learning Facilitator.
Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?
The 8th grade team collaborated to design and develop the historical activity lessons related to Chesapeake City and the C&D Canal. Kim Youngblood and I attended numerous meetings to determine the needs of the community and to establish a working relationship with all of the groups involved.
Each member of the team took on a role for the planning and development of the project. A teacher volunteered to contact all of the guest speakers for the fall event. Several others volunteered to research and develop the lessons. In the spring, the rest of the teachers were involved in the planning of the trip.
Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?
Teamwork – Teachers, students, and community based organizations worked together to improve the environment and felt a sense of accomplishment with regard to the beautification projects. Students also were able to work together and see a project go through all of the phases to completion.
The Value of Business Partnerships – Through the project, students learned the importance of establishing a relationship with local agencies and associations.
Historical Relevance of the Canal – Students learned the value of the C&D Canal and how the trade and freight business depend on this route. They learned how the original canal was built and how it has grown into a gateway for trade on the East Coast.
Chesapeake City and Economics – Students examined the value of tourism in their local community and how the revitalization and restoration of the town have generated revenue for Chesapeake City.
C&D Canal Bridge – Through the presentation from the Army Corps of Engineers, students were able to understand the importance of this critical link to the north side and the south side of the canal. Included in this presentation was an explanation of the upkeep needed for this bridge and the general repairs that have to take place yearly.
Environment – Students were able to understand how litter, debris, and invasive plants affect the C&D Canal, which ultimately leads to the Chesapeake Bay.