Why I want my students to be involved in volunteering and service, etc.
A willingness to participate in the learning process despite one's personal challenges is often referred to as "grit." Many of my students are resilient and possess "grit," but lack a sense of purpose: Motivation. Service-learning provides a high level of engagement because it evokes a sense of purpose and draws them in. Additionally, service-learning provides an excellent cross-curricular platform: The "Rivers for the Common Good" seamlessly aligned with the social studies and science curriculums.
Tips for infusing philanthropy...
Service-learning sometimes looks like teacher-led large group discussions, student-led small group discussions/ partner turn & talks, computer lab activities, letter writing and lots of writing revisions, video watching, book talks/ articles, speaker visits, and fundraising chaos! We often turn to current events like the Flint Water Crisis and look for lessons that relate to that current event or issue. The Flint Water Crisis has been very relevant because the 3rd and 4th-grade science content had focused on the water cycle and living things. The students were eager to discuss the horrific conditions the Flint families had to endure and brainstormed ways to make life easier for them during this crisis. These discussions led to a letter writing campaign to a Michigan legislator.
I taught this LTG lesson
I taught the "Rivers for the Common Good" lesson.
How I adapted the lesson for my learners
As suggested in the LTG lesson, I integrated the book, A River Ran Wild into our social studies unit which was focused on the Industrial Revolution. A River Ran Wild tells the story of a community experiencing technological advances without regulatory safeguards to protect the waterways. Consequently, businesses contaminated the Nashua River with various byproducts and it became uninhabitable. Needless to say, my class engaged in many discussions about personal responsibility, stewardship, and environmental regulatory practices, particularly as it relates to the Great Lakes ecosystem. The students composed letters to Representative Plawecki regarding their concerns for the quality of water in the Great Lakes. Fortunately, we were already engaged in map studies through partnerships with Eastern Michigan University, Michigan Virtual University, and ESRI. The 4th graders had been exploring the Great Lakes region from an aerial view using web apps within our Arc GIS Online Organization (AGOO): The students created and saved maps which identified human features (i.e. roads and structures) and discussed the relationship between contaminants in the waterways and surrounding human features. The students illustrated human features viewed, used the measurement tool in our AGOO to measure elevation in the Muskegon Watershed and participated in a 3- day field experience in Sault Ste. Marie. During this field experience, the students visited Tahquamenon Falls to ACTUALLY view the Tahquamenon River as well; Whitefish Pointe to acquire a water sample and view Lake Superior. Finally, the students toured the Soo Locks because the freighter traffic had been a topic in many of our previous discussions.
The students have been engaged in discussions about algae overgrowth in Lake Erie and its impact in the Great Lakes ecosystem. The discussions were mostly about the food web. The students played a game, "predators;" whereby, a student assumes the role of an animal in a food web (A card identifies the animal: its predators/its prey). The students challenge each other to determine who eats whom! The student with most of the cards wins. Currently, the students are preparing for a river clean up and we are forging a partnership with the Friends of the Rouge River. Since there is a watershed that feeds into the Detroit River, our endeavor remains aligned with our initial objective which focused on the St. Mary and Detroit rivers through an examination of the water quality in Lake Erie and Lake Superior.