Tag Archives: #miched

Poverty Project Builds Social Awareness

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At Kent Innovation High, a PBL high school, we are constantly developing the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills of our students through collaboration in authentic work. We decided to end the school year with a service learning project to focus on the competency of social awareness. We combined American Studies, an integrated American history and ELA class, with chemistry in the Poverty Project. In American Studies, students explored the questions: “Why are people poor? Whose fault is it? How can we fix poverty?” while learning about the Great Depression and reading The Great Gatsby. In chemistry class, students learned about how soap works on a molecular level and the intermolecular forces involved.

To launch the project, we had representatives from Heartside, a local mission in Grand Rapids, Michigan that works with their “neighbors” (homeless people), come in and talk to students about how Heartside shows their neighbors respect and gives them dignity through education and art programs. The last week of school a group of students visited Heartside and toured the neighborhood and facilities to see how the program works. Our students were challenged to brainstorm what they could do to support Heartside.

Some students decided to make soap from scratch, including creative designs such as making it look like footballs and basketballs. Others started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Heartside. Another group organized a donation drive to get personal hygiene items brought in for care packages.

One of the things that Heartside provides is art classes to their neighbors so that they can express themselves and see value in themselves through their creativity. One group of students came up with the idea of doing all kinds of different fundraisers to buy art from the Heartside neighbors and hang it in our school. The students wanted to provide dignity to the neighbors, not just give them a handout. We teachers would never have thought of all of these great ideas!

The best thing about the Poverty Project was that the teachers were not “in charge” of this process. Students organized and made all of these campaigns happen. We challenged students to make a difference in the community and as they always do when given voice and choice, students blew us away with their empathy and creativity in caring for others!

Students are ready to practice social awareness at school. All they need is for us to challenge them and to be given the opportunity to make a difference. How will you let go of your class and allow your students make a difference in the world? Students don’t need to wait until “someday.” They can change the world right now!

Cramming in Last Minute Caring

studying hard

By Dean+Barb

We have about a month of school left. I am worn out from a long and stressful year. The weather is getting warmer and sunny (rare during Michigan winters). Kids are getting more restless and active. Everyone knows that we are pretty much down to the end and the pressure is on to make sure that we “cover all of the content” required by the syllabus, district, or curriculum office. Every Friday I am exhausted and ready for the weekend.

I too am feeling the pressure of the end of the year, but in a different way. I feel like I am still learning to know my students and I only have limited time to engage them on a deep level. The seniors (which I no longer teach) are thinking about grad parties and college choices. This is my last month of having my students in class daily and getting to know their hopes and dreams. I have limited time to hear their jokes, listen to stories about their plays, music performances, and games. Time is slipping away from me being there to hear about students’ struggles with family issues, friendship problems, or personal dilemmas.

I think about the students that I don’t know as well as I would like to because they are quiet or closed off. I think about the girl who has a hard shell around her keeping out anyone from seeing her deep pain. I think about the boy who thinks that no one really understands what his home life is like. So many students with so many dreams, yet also so much personal pain and struggles.

I want to finish the year strong. To me that means lots of listening, caring,  and connecting. To me that means pushing my students to love themselves and each other.  Our last project focuses on poverty through the lens of the Great Depression. I want my students to care about the less fortunate and be empathetic.

I will end the year by concentrating on connecting with students personally.

I will end the year by speaking encouraging words daily.

I will end the year by challenging students to consider the less fortunate.

I am tired. I am ready for a break, but my students still need my best.

I will end the year with love. I will show students how to love each other. I will leave my students with a message of hope and love for all.

We are going to cram in as much caring this month as we can…