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|Project Title: ||Salute to Homeless Veterans|
|School Year: ||2004|
|School - District:||Martin Luther King Jr Mid - Boston|
|Contact Name:||Sarah Johnson|
|Content-Area(s):||English Language Arts, History & Social Sciences, Mathematics|
|Community Need:||Human Needs, Citizenship|
|Brief Description of SL Project: |
Constitutional studies impelled students to address life in a democracy, especially the quality of life for underrepresented constituencies. As they discussed the political process, concerns about homeless veterans arose. To learn more about the issue, students served at a downtown homeless veterans’ shelter. They interviewed veterans who visited the school and asked questions about their military experience and their subsequent lives as returning citizens. Combining their classroom learning with real world observation, students wrote and performed a Bill of Rights skit at the veterans’ shelter. To inform the public about their experience they published a newsletter for classmates, the school community, and parents and also sent it along with letters to their Congress Person. Students became politically engaged and informed, so that they could advocate for homeless veterans. They organized Voter Registration Drives to ensure advocacy for the homeless.
|The Community Need the Project is Meeting:|
Students read that on any given day, as many as 250,000 veterans live on the streets or in shelters, and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness during the course of a year. The students agreed on the need to do something about this problem, which included informing more people about the issue and working to improve the lives of veterans.
|Service Component: |
The service components included working at a local veteran’s shelter, which included stocking the food pantry, working at the shelter’s clothing store, helping with clerical tasks, and serving lunch. Students broadened their commitment as they coordinated and planned voluntary interviews with the shelter's public relations department. The students performed The Bill of Rights at the shelter, which brought together everyone involved in the project: students, teachers, school and shelter administrators, and of course, veterans. Finally, the students organized a Voter Registration, which brought together family and community around the topic of advocacy for the homeless.
|Connections with Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: |
Basing their constitutional research and reading on We the People...The Citizen and the Constitution… published by the Center for Civic Education, students combine Social Studies with English Language Arts and Math skills. The students responded to key questions in journals, wrote and conducted surveys, graphed survey results, prepared interview questions, performed in their own Bill of Rights skit, published a shared class newsletter, and wrote letters to their Congress Person.
The following Boston Public Schools Learning Standards were derived from the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and Learning Standards:
Learning Standards English Language Arts:
• Connect reading with students' experience and the experiences of others.
• Understand and use the writing process effectively (with 5-step process of pre-writing, drafting, revising, peer editing & publishing).
• Employ a variety of formats and utilize technology to complete and enhance work.
• Make connections between reading and life experience.
Learning Standards Math:
• Collect, organize and describe data.
• Construct, draw inferences and reason with charts, tables and graphs that summarize data from real world situations.
Learning Standards Social Studies:
• Understand the principles of democracy.
• Comprehend historical source documents and materials.
• Make connections between the past and the present.
• Engage in historical and social issues analysis and decision-making.
• Make effective oral presentations.
|How Youth Voice Helps Shape Project:|
Taking the lead on important decisions, students engaged their parents and family in supporting benefits and services for veterans. Students organized the Mock Voter Registrations, and encouraged family members and community to become registered voters.
|Student Reflection Component: |
Students wrote weekly reflections in journals, which included beginning the first and last journal entries with: "When I think of the homeless, I think of…" This served as a pre-test and post-test for students and teachers to study attitudinal changes.
|Community Partners Involved: |
Community partners included: New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Center for Civic Education, Boston University (Project for Civic Engagement), City of Boston Elections Commission, League of Women Voters, Senator Kerry’s Office, and the MBTA.
|Demonstration/Celebration of Students' Work: |
Everyone celebrated at the cast party following The Bill of Rights skit and at a school breakfast for Veterans. As a special reward, students planned a trip to Washington, D.C. where they visited the Vietnam Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and National Archives.
|Evaluation of Project’s Impact:|
Enthusiastic responses from parents, participating veterans, and administrators indicated wide support of the student activities.
|Challenges/Solutions Identified by District:|
Homelessness is a sensitive social issue that must be broached in a delicate manner. One must take into consideration students’ real world experience and awareness with homelessness. The district has a homeless student office to assist staff with this issue. Aware of the sensitivity related to interviewing people with real human needs, students and teachers agreed to conduct themselves responsibly and to respect the dignity of all involved. While students respected the privacy of anyone who resisted the intrusion, a majority of cooperating interviewees were delighted to answer students’ questions honestly.
* NOTE: This project summary was written by the district/community. Any text in italics was added or modified by the Department (ESE). Most of these projects were supported with Learn & Serve America funds distributed through the ESE.