Judy O’Connell and Lisa Meerdter, Cedarmere Elementary School, Baltimore County, 410-887-1100
Students at Cedarmere Elementary participated in a service-learning project to aid the children who were victims of the tsunami/earthquake. To raise money for the victims, students bought and sold “Love Links” for ten cents each. “Love Links” were 9 X 1 strips of brightly colored construction paper that students decorated. The strips were then connected to form long paper chains that were displayed around the school.
Best Practice 1: Meet a recognized need in the community.
When students arrived back in school after the winter break, they voiced concern for the children who were left without families, food, schools, or basic health care due to the massive earthquake and tsunami in December 2004. Our students wanted to aid children in rebuilding their lives through health and education. The students’ goal was to raise as much money as possible for children who were victims of the tsunami while raising community awareness about the disaster. Our hope was that Save the Children would put our contribution to good use in aiding the children of Southeast Asia.
Best Practice 2: Achieve curricular objectives through service-learning.
Our service-learning project was connected to the school curriculum through reading, technology, math, writing, science, and geography.
- Geography: Students identified the area of the world where the tsunami occurred and surrounding countries that were affected by the disaster.
- Reading and Technology: Students read Time for Kids articles and used the Internet to learn more about tsunamis. Students brought in newspaper and magazine articles to read and share with their classes.
- Math: Students collected and counted “Love Links” and money.
- Writing: Students wrote reflections describing the tsunami. They included their action to help aid the children of Southeast Asia, and a description of their learning from the project. Primary students reflected through artwork. One third grade class practiced their “friendly letter” writing skills by writing former President Clinton to share the results of their service-learning project.
- Science: Intermediate students learned about tsunamis, why they occur, and where they are most likely to occur.
Best Practice 3: Reflect throughout the service-learning experience.
Students wrote and read morning announcements over the school intercom and received weekly totals of “Love Links” sold, and money collected. Using this information, the children reflected throughout the project through discussion and journal entries.
Best Practice 4: Develop student responsibility.
Student government leaders wrote morning announcements, delivered “Love Links” to classrooms, and collected and counted money. Students in classrooms sold “Love Links” outside of their classrooms.
Best Practice 5: Establish community partnerships.
The funds raised were donated to Save the Children for tsunami relief efforts. Our community partners also included parents who sold “Love Links” at their places of work. Some students involved their religious organizations by selling “Love Links” at those locations as well.
Best Practice 6: Plan ahead for service-learning.
To plan and prepare for this service-learning project we began by:
- Requesting and receiving administrative approval;
- Developing a timeline;
- Writing and distributing letters to parents of Cedarmere students;
- Cutting and distributing 9 X 1 inch strips of colored construction paper.
Best Practice 7: Equip students with knowledge and skills needed for service.
Our students developed and improved skills and knowledge in geography through their use of maps and atlases. Many of the students improved their reading and vocabulary skills while working on the Internet, reading magazine articles, and accessing other information on tsunamis, earthquakes, and this current event. Writing skills were developed through journal entries, intercom announcements, letter writing, and other written reflections. As the project progressed, our students learned responsibility as they sold and collected money for the “Love Links.” Math skills developed through collecting and counting money. The most obvious lesson came at the end of the month long project when students reflected on their project and described their learning and new understanding of tsunamis, earthquakes, and the devastation they can produce on our human family.