PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Classes Periods

The learner will:

  • generate a list of problems associated trash generated in schools.
  • create a list prioritizing the problems associated with school trash.
  • choose at least one problem associated with school trash and devise a plan for resolving the problem.
  • create a strategy for involving the entire school in the plan.
  • Disposable gloves (optional)
  • A chart for collecting class information.
  • Individual Accountability (Handout One)


  1. Teacher Note: Before the class period begins, arrange the desks in a circle in order to conduct a round-table discussion.

    Anticipatory Set: Ask learners to take a few minutes to create a list regarding any problems associated with litter or garbage within their school community.(Answers might include the materials used in the cafeteria, the amount of paper discarded on a regular basis, litter left in the cafeteria, hallways, or on school grounds.)Have learners share their answers using a whole group approach.

  2. Explain to learners that they will be generating a service learning project to help change the way materials are used and discarded in their school community.

  3. Using a whole group approach, have learners brainstorm ways they can research the problems associated with garbage and litter within their school community, telling them they will become data collectors. They may choose to use disposable gloves when collecting data, depending on their focus. (These might include teams of learners looking for different types of information. Below is a list of ideas: Some data-collectors may be responsible for:

    1. reporting on the materials used to serve lunches.
    2. reporting the amount and types of litter found in the hallways.
    3. setting up a disposal collection center in the lunchroom in which all learners would be asked to separate their lunch materials before discarding them in the trash cans. One trash can would be specifically for paper products, another may be for plastics, and another for Styrofoam. The data-collectors would then weigh the amount of each of the trashcans and by deducting the trashcan weight, come up with the amount and types of garbage discarded.
    4. reporting on the amount of garbage discarded in each classroom. Again, if possible, have the classroom teacher ask learners to dispose of paper in one trash can and all other products in another. Data collectors should weigh the amount of each to come up with the amount or paper and “other garbage” discarded.

    Teacher Note: You may choose to have the data collection take place over a short period of time or have them just collect data for one day. You may choose to have the data collectors place their data collections in a graphical format, such as a pie graph, to present the information to the class.

  4. Include a discussion on reliability and validity of the data. Ask learners how accurate they think their data is, why or why not. i.e. not enough data, different lunches may be served on different days using different materials, problems in accuracy of weighing materials, limited cooperation of student-body.

  5. Again, using the round-table format, have learners report their information to the class.

  6. Record the learners’ findings on a flip chart, overhead, or large piece of banner paper to be displayed to the class.

  7. Once data is recorded and displayed, ask learners to prioritize the importance of each problem by creating a list starting from most crucial to least crucial, directing them to leave a space after each listing in order to brainstorm ideas for solving or reducing the problem. Allow time for them to brainstorm possible ideas for resolving or reducing the problem.

  8. Have the learners offer information regarding what Core Democratic Value this type of activity represents the Common Good.Thenask them to think through how this project aligns with the working toward the Common Good.

  9. Using the original list displayed in the class, take a poll to see which problems learners see as the most crucial, telling the learners that they will conduct a round-table style discussion brainstorming ways the problems within their school community might be addressed.To encourage student involvement in this discussion, you may choose to provide each learner with two or three chips telling them they will need to ‘cash in’ a chip for each discussion point they offer and when their chips are gone so is their opportunity to contribute to the discussion.This helps to restrict the aggressive conversationalist or you may choose to give a learner a chip each time they contribute to the conversation and then they can use their chips for points at the end of the discussion. This may keep the conversation moving a little better, but can also allow the more aggressive learners to “take-over”.

  10. Teacher Note: Spending a few minutes discussing proper technique for a round-table discussion, i.e. taking turns, good listening, encouraging words, and positive responses rather then hurtful remarks, may eliminate the need for the suggestions revolving around the use of chips. If learners are unfamiliar with this style of learning you may want to put a T-chart on the board and have learners list what a successful round table would sound like/look like on one side and what responses would be counter productive on the opposite side.


  11. Once learners have generated ideas for each area they see as a problem, place them in back into their “core groups” and have them choose one of the problems and devise a service plan of action for reducing or solving the problem. Learners may choose to focus on one problem for the entire class or they may choose to address different problems within each group.

  12. In their service plan, the learners will need to include ideas on how to “sell” their ideas to the student body, as well as the administration.(Some learners may be working the marketing end of the project while others are working on reduction in regard to product change and conscientious actions, while still others are approaching the recycling aspect within the school community.)

  13. Teacher Note: Examples of action plans: Setting up paper recycling bins in each classroom and/or plastic and glass recycling bins in the cafeteria, encouraging reduction of use by campaigning toward more electronic assignments, creating awareness through an all-school campaign to recycle and reuse. An additional idea may be to conduct a contest within the school community to help manage the garbage problem.

  14. Ask learners to define “volunteerism” and to think of ways they can “make a difference” in their community through volunteerism.

  15. Distribute a copy of Individual Accountability (Handout One) to each learner. Allow them time to complete their answers and collect them for a final grade on the unit.


The depth of understanding and involvement of the learners in the group assignments/activities. The accuracy of data collection and reporting and the development of a Service Project for involving the entire student body. The satisfactory completion of the Individual Accountability (Handout One).

Cross Curriculum 

Involvement in a school-widetrash reduction and/or clean up effort.

Read about the service-learning project called Reduce Reuse and Recycle by Indiana students who were taught using this Collective Compromise lesson to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Collier is a 7th grade teacher from Indiana who said, “I think during this time period in their lives (teenage years) students can be entitled and unappreciative. Philanthropy helps them see beyond themselves.”

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Give political and historic reasons why civil society groups have formed in the nation and world.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      4. Benchmark MS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      5. Benchmark MS.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.