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|Project Title: ||Helping Hands for Our Homeless|
|School Year: ||2008|
|School - District:||Adams Middle - Adams-Cheshire|
|Contact Name:||Terry Vivori|
|Contact Phone:||(413) 743-0554|
|Content-Area(s):||Comprehensive Health, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science & Technology|
|Grades:||6, 7, 8|
|Community Need:||Health/Nutrition, Housing, Human Needs|
|Brief Description of SL Project: |
The Louison House is a shelter for the homeless in Adams, MA. Originally the building served as a nursing home. In 1989 a group of people in the area saw a need for homeless prevention. The original use was a prevention center, but soon after the house became a shelter for area homeless people. The goal of this Community Service-Learning project is to provide needed items to be used by the homeless at this shelter. Twenty-six 6th grade students in the Adams Memorial Middle School Life Skills classes will participate in the project. Academic connections include Comprehensive Health, English Language Arts, Educational Technology, and Mathematics Standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. The students will participate in many activities to learn about homelessness and the needs in our community. These activities will include: reading stories about homelessness, researching the subject, interviewing the Louison House Coordinator, developing and presenting an assembly to educate the entire school, writing journal entries and letters, and taking up a collection of needed items for the Louison House. Our community partner is the Louison House Coordinator. The needs are for personal care items, non-perishable food, laundry and cleaning products, and bus passes for transportation.
|The Community Need the Project is Meeting:|
The need the students were addressing was to help homeless people at our area shelter.
The students identified and prioritized needs by reading books and doing activities with books about homelessness, which were purchased with a grant from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. They also invited the Louison House Coordinator to be a guest speaker at our school. They developed a list of questions, which they asked her, to prioritize the needs at the shelter. After the interview, they matched the needs to the Life Skills Curriculum for each grade level. Each grade level was given a list of needed items they could donate. This was done to prevent the overlap of too many donations in just one area of need.
|Service Component: |
The first service the students provided was advocacy by developing and presenting an assembly to educate the entire school community about their community service-learning project. They decided on the assembly because they thought it would be fun and students would be more receptive to it. The students could not go to the Louison House because there were adults and children living there and confidentiality rules wouldn’t allow for them to be there. They took the indirect service route and ran a donation drive at the school to collect the items needed by the shelter. The students put in approximately 60 hours of service. They collected 447 needed items and $200.00 in cash for bus passes. It is hard to say how many people will be helped, but we know it will be a lot. The Louison House Coordinator was amazed by all the donations and said it would have a huge impact in the lives of the people living there.
|Connections with Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: |
Learning Standards & Activities
-3.8, review Food Pyramid and its’ nutritional importance, develop questions for Louison House (LH) Coordinator about nutritional needs, develop a list of nutritional (non-perishable) food items needed at the LH
-6.5/6.7, discuss how family functions and responsibilities change with life events, discuss support systems or agencies who can help the homeless, review list of agencies from the NBCC website in groups
-8.9, brainstorm & discuss what can happen if people do not have good grooming skills, develop questions for LH Coordinator, make a list of personal care products needed by LH
-12.5, name & weigh criteria for consumer products, discuss comparison shopping for products needed.
English Language Arts:
-1.3, apply understanding of agreed upon rules & individual roles to make decisions throughout the project.
-2.3, gather relevant information by developing a list of questions for the guest speaker, interview the LH Coordinator.
-6.4, develop & present skits for assembly on homelessness.
-19.8, write formal letters (invitations/thank you notes) to people we are working with.
-23.7/23.8, group related ideas in logical order by writing daily journal entries, develop the order for the skits, poems, PowerPoint and songs during the assembly, organize information with a topic sentence by developing scripts for skits, develop letters about CSL for parents & staff.
-24.3, apply steps for obtaining information by using textbooks & the computer, answer questions on homelessness.
-3.1/3.2, explain & demonstrate effective browsing strategies to research homelessness, collect, organize, & analyze digital information for PowerPoint and skits.
-3.7, plan, design, & develop a multimedia product for the assembly.
-6.D.3, research numbers of homeless for use in a PowerPoint, develop charts of donated items from each grade.
|How Youth Voice Helps Shape Project:|
The students were involved in decision-making throughout the entire process. They decided on the name of the project, how to find out information about homelessness, how to educate their school about the project, how to promote their project, and how to run the donation collection process. The assembly that they decided to produce to educate the school population offered many opportunities for them to show their strengths, and for some, gain new strengths. They decided on a title, decided to develop skits and a power point presentation, listened to and voted on songs to incorporate, wrote poems, and decided on the agenda. The majority of the students had many discussions throughout the process of what needed to be done and who would do it. They had great team effort. When making decisions they used brainstorming, listening skills, cooperative learning, and volunteering for jobs that needed to be completed to make their project a success.
|Student Reflection Component: |
We began reflections by using some activities on reflection in the “Kids’ Guide to Hunger and Homelessness”. The majority of the students were shocked by the number of homeless and hungry people in the United States and around the world. They were also surprised by how many people live on less than $2.00 a day. Most of the students thought they could not do that, since their lunch in the cafeteria costs $2.00 or more each day. Students did journal entries about what they learned each day they read their story books. They were given an assignment to think about what they would put in one backpack if they became homeless and could only take what would fit in the backpack. The next day they wrote the items down on a paper backpack and discussed why they put in the items they chose. Many students discussed how the items they thought were so important in their lives became less important if they became homeless. The students discussed how they thought the assembly went and then answered reflection questions. Students were able to reflect on the progress of the donations given by charting the items that were collected each day. The students completed the Student Self-Evaluation from The Complete Guide to Service Learning by Catherine Berger Kaye, M.A.
|Community Partners Involved: |
We worked with the Louison House Coordintor, Sherry Dunne. We set up a date for her to come and speak with the students. The students could not go to the Louison House because of confidentiality when people are living there. The students developed many questions to ask Sherry. She answered their questions and identified many items the homeless were in need of at the shelter. She also helped them to understand the entry process, purpose, and services provided at the shelter. Sherry said it was difficult for them to be overly involved because they are short staffed and usually only have one individual there during the day. She always returned our calls if we had any questions and made a special effort to be at our school for the students to present her with the items, since they could not deliver them to the shelter. We worked with Kate Merrigan from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition for a mini-grant. Another community partner was Jillian Jones of the North Adams Transcript, who did press coverage for us. Mr. Corrigan, our Technical Education teacher, works closely with JoAnne Hurlbut at the local access channel and she has agreed to air a video of our four CSL projects at Adams Memorial Middle School on local access.
|Demonstration/Celebration of Students' Work: |
Our first big celebration was the acknowledgement by staff and administration with announcements of what a fantastic job the students did on their assembly. The students also received congratulation notes from teachers and administrators. They were able to watch the DVD of their assembly. Students also said that a celebration for them was seeing some of the parents, academic teachers from all grade levels, administrators, and especially the district’s Special Services Coordinator and Superintendent show up to see their assembly. We also had a presentation of items to the Louison House Coordinator with the local newspaper covering the story. The four teachers in our school involved in this CSL class will be doing a school-wide assembly to show student accomplishments. I will be presenting each one of my students with a certificate and photographs of themselves participating in the different parts of the project. There will also be a video including all four projects from Adams Memorial Middle School that will air on the local television channel.
|Evaluation of Project’s Impact:|
The students’ ultimate goal was to raise at least 400 needed items for the Louison House. They were able to chart the progress and see that they reached their goal, and went beyond, by tallying the items each day. Their final totals were 447 items and $200.00 for bus passes for the homeless at the shelter. We discussed how these items would help the homeless and they realized that they would have more to eat, better pillows to sleep on, clean clothes, and would look and smell better with all the personal care products. It bothered them in the beginning to find out that if they were homeless they probably would not be able to shower. The Louison House Coordinator spoke with them on the day of the presentation of donations and expressed her gratitude and that of the people at the shelter. One story that stuck with the students was that sometimes they have to put four pillows together in a pillowcase to make if feel like one because theirs’ are so old and paper thin. She said the children there would be so happy to have a new pillow that night.
|Challenges/Solutions Identified by District:|
One challenge was getting my mini-grant to purchase a workbook and story books about homelessness for our school. After I dropped it off the group approving it had two meetings cancelled due to inclement weather. It was approved as soon as they were able to review it, so my solution was to borrow the workbook on homelessness from my instructor, until ours came in, and move some lessons around. Another challenge was to make sure I had books at two different reading levels, since I had students at lower and upper reading levels. I worked with my instructor, our school Librarian, and went on-line to find these.
I also found myself guiding some students with learning disabilities along the process. The only difficulty with the books were the many different reading levels. I asked for help from my CSL classmates (from a CSL graduate course at MCLA) and they suggested using reading groups and setting rules for how much to read at one time/or at your turn. It worked very well. The most frustrating part for me was a scheduling mix-up on the day of the assembly. I had missed that the students forgot to put 2 words, “exploratory period”, in the letter when I read it over. I apologized to the impacted teacher and all was well. I’m very lucky to have such a supportive school when it comes to Community Service-Learning!
* 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.