What Can I Give?

6, 7, 8

Students reflect on the importance of their identity from Lessons 1 and 2 and make a plan to demonstrate their responsibility to their community through a service-learning project.

PrintTwo 45-Minute Class Periods, plus time to plan and carry out a service project

The learner will:

  • define empower and philanthropy.
  • review research on volunteerism.
  • brainstorm a list of challenges in their community and ways to help their community.
  • prove why they should play an active role in their community.
  • plan and implement a service-learning project.
  • materials for chalk talk: white board or chalkboard (or chart paper)
  • computer and project
  • copies of handouts for students

empower: to authorize, delegate, license someone to take action

volunteerism: the act of performing a service or good work for others without pay

community service: volunteering to improve upon aspects of a community; service performed to benefit the common good

philanthropy: giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good

service-learning: connecting service to school curriculum and requiring students to reflect on the meaning they attach to the service 


Home Connection 

Students write a brief paragraph to answer the question in their own opinion, backed by supporting arguments: "Should volunteer service be required by schools? Why or Why Not?" Students interview adult family members about the same question and summarize their viewpoint.



  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set

    Show the 5-minute clip from the movie Pay It Forward in which the teacher assigns the students a project to change the world. He tells them it is possible for them to do it, even if the world doesn't expect it. Discuss the assignment the teacher gives and how he sets it up. Ask students what is motivating about howthe teacherpresents it. Warning: preview this clip in advance. The teacher uses an offensive word at one point in his discussion with the class.

    Note: The YouTube clip from the film of the assignment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0HTneOLrEc (If you are watching the DVD, the assignment is given between 8-12 minutes on the DVD clock.)

  2. Write the words empower and philanthropy on the board and discuss the definitions of the words. Ask the students how the word empower is related to the social studies assignment in the film clip. Then discuss how the assignment is related to philanthropy.

  3. Tell the students that you want to do a quick survey of their personal experience. Tell them to get out a piece of scrap paper and answer these questions:

    1. Have you volunteered in the past month? (If the student answers no, he or she does not need to answer the remaining questions.)
    2. During the weeks that you volunteer, about how many hours per week do you do volunteer work?
    3. Where do you do most of your volunteer work?
    4. Why do you volunteer?
    5. What good things are added to your life because you are a volunteer?
  4. Collect all the scrap papers. Assign a student or students to help tally the responses of the group. Calculate the percentage of youth in the class who volunteer. Then, calculate the number of hours.

  5. As the students are working on the calculations, distribute the handout, "Research on Youth Volunteerism in the United States." Allow them time to read the statistics.

  6. Share the class results from the 5-question survey. Have students compare the results from the class with the results found on the handout. Discuss the similarities and differences between the class and US results.

  7. End Day One with a homework assignment. Students will write a paragraph response for the next class period. See the Home/School Connection below.

  8. Day Two

    Anticipatory Set

    Play the Michael Jackson song, "Man in the Mirror" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PivWY9wn5ps&ob=av3e). Move students into small groups to discuss their reactions to the song/video. Tell the groups to write a summary of the message presented by the song. Share their messages with the whole group.

  9. Have students share their ideas from the homework about requiring community service through school.

  10. Ask students if any of their opinions changed after listening to and discussing the song.

  11. Do a 5-minute "chalk talk" on the question "Why should we serve?" (See directions for a silent "Chalk Talk" at https://www.csustan.edu/sites/default/files/writingprogram/Pages/documents/ChalkTalk.pdf)

  12. Upon the completion of the "Chalk Talk," ask the students to summarize the results. Students should find that their summaries relate closely to those discussed in the Day One lesson handout, "Research on Volunteerism in the United States."

  13. Use the Service-Learning Planning Sheet to guide students to address an investigated need with voluntary action that fits their interests and resources. 


At the completion of the Service-Learning project, students will be asked to do a personal reflection (See "Reflection" Handout).

Cross Curriculum 

Students identify needs in their community and investigate what they can do. They conduct an interest and talents inventory and determine which needs fit their collective skills. A direct connection to this unit may be to partner with a local school or club and do mentoring activities that are known to build student skills and self-esteem in the younger children they mentor.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.