Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Helping Children Learn
Unit of 4 lessons
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Unit Overview:

This unit, which can be used in an English Language Arts class, is meant to be used over an extended period of time, perhaps a semester or a school year. It is intended to improve the reading performance of both middle and elementary students by teaming a middle school student with two elementary children who are learning to read. By reading early childhood literature and using reading/writing techniques specially meant for young learners, all members of the teams improve their skills. Even students with poor academic skills gain self-confidence and self-esteem by helping younger children who look up to them. While discussing ways of working with elementary children in terms of tone of voice, discipline, positive reinforcement and modeling expected outcomes, it is expected that the middle school students will benefit from utilizing these skills in their own lives.

Learners will experience philanthropy through a Service Learning Project. They will also learn about motives for giving , community capital and opportunity costs . They will analyze the responsibility young people have for helping the community and determine if their service provides a benefit for the community. From the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction students receive while completing this unit, it is hoped that they will be aware of the need for voluntary action and be inspired to continue to participate in philanthropy at some level.

Unit Purpose:

Learners will increase their reading fluency and awareness of philanthropy by reading to younger children. Through teaming with younger children, they will uncover the meaning of unfamiliar words in context, become more knowledgeable about structures authors use to help young children learn to read, use different strategies to verbalize their books and use encouragement to help young children learn to read. They will determine how their acts are a form of community capital and will identify themselves as philanthropists who help their community. Learners will actively help younger children write and edit their own pattern books and determine the value of their service learning project to the betterment of the community.

Unit Objectives:

The learner will:

  • demonstrate fluency, dramatic emphasis and knowledge of visual clues and their meaning while reading a storybook aloud to two children.
  • relate a story to events in other children's lives.
  • define philanthropy and describe and analyze motives for giving .
  • determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in written texts by using context clues and vocabulary aids.
  • recognize the benefits of positive reinforcement with children and in their daily lives.
  • define community capital and describe how it is enhanced.
  • describe strategies writers use to construct meaning from pattern books.
  • identify verbal strategies which enhance understanding in children's books.
  • describe persons who help the community and analyze the responsibility young people have for helping the community.
  • describe the editing process by helping younger children publish their own pattern books.
  • analyze opportunity cost in helping younger children learn to read and determine if the cost was worth the result.

Service Experience:

Although lessons in this unit contain service project examples, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.

Learners will team with younger children from an elementary school by reading a book to them and discussing it. They will make a connection between the story and the lives of the children. On another occasion they will help the children read a story, aiding them in developing strategies for finding meaning for unknown vocabulary. In other visits, learners will read pattern books to younger children using echo and choral reading strategies and help the children write and illustrate their own pattern books.

Unit Assessment:

The unit will be assessed by journal entries and rubrics which are provided for every lesson.

School/Home Connection:

“Copy-and-Paste” Class/School Newsletter Information Insert:
Our class will learn about giving bak to the community through a literacy project. In this project, middle grade learners will be teamed with elementary school learners in an effort to help younger children make educational progress. A philanthropy-tutoring project has many benefits for the middle level student. While enhancing skills in CORE curriculum areas, it also has numerous affective benefits. The activities involved in researching tutoring needs and preparing for the project build a class cohesiveness which extends beyond the project and switches the focus from “what's in it for me” to “what's best for us.” It also strengthens the relationship between the students and the advisor. In addition, even students with poor academic skills gain self-confidence and self-esteem by helping younger children who look up to them. While discussing ways of working with elementary children in terms of tone of voice, discipline, withdrawal, positive reinforcement and modeling expected outcomes, it is expected that the advisory students will benefit from utilizing these skills in their own lives. By teaching younger children various math and reading strategies, their own skills in these areas should improve. From the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction students receive while completing this unit, it is hoped that they will be aware of the need for voluntary action and be inspired to continue to participate in philanthropy at some level.

Interactive Family/ Student Homework:
Learners should share with their families the discussion held in class about the definition of someone who helps the community. They should ask their family if they agree with the class' definition and add their own thoughts on this topic. Learners should ask if their families agree that they are philanthropists in their work with the elementary children. Do their families believe that young people have a responsibility to volunteer to improve the common good? If so, how? If not, why not?

Notes for Teaching:

Beginning with Lesson One: Reading to Elementary Children , each middle school learner will be working with two elementary learners. Make arrangements prior to the beginning of the unit with a nearby elementary school and teacher so that children to be involved in the project can be selected and paired with the middle school learner. Have a selection of elementary age-appropriate books available for use by the middle school students in the project. Working with the elementary teacher involved, match up the learners from the two schools.

State Curriculum and Philanthropy Theme Frameworks:

See individual lessons for benchmark detail.

Lessons Developed By:

Suzanne Lappin
VanDyke Public Schools
Lincoln Middle School
22500 Federal
Warren, MI 48089

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