What Is a Home?

6, 7, 8

Students develop understanding of the meaning of philanthropy and how it relates to them and the needs in their community. They explore photos in a photo journal book (Lives Turned Upside Down by Jim Hubard) and then create their own photo journal presentation/poster showing the needs in their community. 

PrintFive 45- to 50-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy, leading to a concise understanding and meaningful self-connection.
  • see first-hand the specific needs in their community (through a photo walk).
  • discover and give examples of resources addressing poverty/homelessness in the community.
  • design a thought-provoking photo journal/technology presentation, demonstrating the needs of the community.
  • digital cameras (may be student cameras on phones and other devices)
  • optional printer to print photos
  • Internet access to show online video clip to class
  • flash drives/CDs for data storage and presentations
  • journals
  • poster board (one per group that chooses to make a poster rather than a digital presentation)
  • markers
  • read-aloud copy of book Lives Turned Upside Down by Jim Hubard
  • student copies of Handout One: Personal Connections and Handout Two: Community Interview
Teacher Preparation 

Be sensitive to the fact that there might be students in the classroom who are homeless.

On Day Two, the class takes a field trip with the goal of capturing photos of of a range needs and resources in the community. For example, the students may view areas where people who are homeless find resources. They may also view contrasting areas where people with more financial stability find resources. Their photos may show a range of resources or may focus just on the areas of need. Depending on your community, this may be accomplished with a neighborhood walk, or the teacher may need to arrange for drivers and chaperones. Alternatively, this may be done as homework, if students have family support to carry this out safely. Students should be cautioned about taking photos of persons without their permission. Do not assign this if it could place students in a dangerous situation or if it cannot be done with sensitivity for people who live in diverse situations.

An alternative field trip and data collection focus may include visiting a few local organizations that provide housing services. In preparation for the visit ask the site coordinator to speak to the students about what needs they address and how the organization meets those needs. They may also ask a client to speak to the students about the service and what more could be done by the community to help address the issue of homelessness. 

A third option is to bring in an expert to talk to the students from a nonprofit, government, or private business to talk about resources for people who are homeless. 

  • philanthropy: (n) the giving of one's time, talent or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good
  • community: A group of people living in the same area and under the same government; a group having common interests and goals and who work together
  • resources: (n) available supply or support that can be drawn on when needed or wanted
  • poverty: (n) the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor
  • viable: (adj) practical, feasible, usable, adaptable
  • reflection: (n) careful consideration
  • habitat: (n) a place where a person or thing lives
Home Connection 

Encourage students to discuss at home what they are learning in class about homelessness. Their home discussions may add new perspectives to classroom discussions. On Day Two, students bring home an interview sheet and they must choose a neighbor or relative to interview for their thoughts on poverty/homelessness in their community. Optional homework: Students, accompanied by a caring adult, may take photos in the neighborhood and community that capture the resources and settings for people who are homeless.


Students write in journals about their thoughts and feelings related to the topics raised in class.

Ask the discussion question, "How can art be a form of advocacy?"


 Hubbard, Jim. Lives Turned Upside Down. Aladdin, 2007. ISBN: 978-1316968382

The Pursuit of Happyness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89Kq8SDyvfg


  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set: Say to the students, “Raise your hand if you are a philanthropist.” Ask a variety of students to define philanthropist (making guesses if they don’t know). Write some key words from their responses on the board. Optional: view the 5-minute humorous video “What Is Philanthropy?” Guide the students to define philanthropist as someone who gives time, talent, or treasure and takes action for the common good. Ask the students to give examples of philanthropy (helping a neighbor, donating to a cause, reading to a younger child, raising awareness about a need).

  2. Read aloud and share the images in the book, Lives Turned Upside Down: Homeless Children in their Own Words and Photographs, by Jim Hubbard. Give each student Handout One: Personal Connections and have them write them write their responses to the book on the handout. Give students time to share their responses with the class (20 minutes).

  3. Students view the trailer from "The Pursuit of Happyness" starring Will Smith (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89Kq8SDyvfg 3 minutes) and discuss how the homeless family in the movie is portrayed. Ask the students if this changes their idea of who is homeless and how people who are homeless get basic resources, such as food, a place to sleep, water to clean up, childcare, and a job that matches skills. (15 minutes).

  4. Students meet in a group off our students to discuss the question, "What are some things we could do to address the issue of homelessness as a class of philanthropists?" Each group assigns a group recorder to jot down the ideas generated (2-5 minutes.)

  5. Extra-credit homework assignment: Ask students to take photos that portray needs related to homelessness and hunger in their community. A parent may drive a student around town to see diverse neighborhoods, homeless shelters, and resale shops where donated items are sold. Caution: Do not assign this homework if it could place students in a dangerous situation or if it cannot be done with sensitivity for people who live in diverse situations.

  6. Day Two Anticipatory Set: Show one of the images from the book read on Day One. Discuss what the image communicates. Tell the students that they are going to use their cameras to capture images that communicate stories or feelings.

  7. Take students on a community field trip to view diverse community resources and take photos of people and places that capture the range of needs and resources available in the community. The students may hear from diverse people about the services they provide and receive and what else still needs to be done. Have students bring cameras and notepads for taking notes. By the end of the field trip, they should have a clearer idea of what they can do as well as photos that can be used to create a photo journal/collage of the varied lifestyles in the community. Prepare students for the trip by talking to them about showing respect and sensitivity for people. See "Teacher Preparation," above. As an alternative to a field trip, bring in a guest speaker from a local organization. Have students conduct research and download photos from news sources and other online resources.

  8. Homework assignment: Students complete Handout Two: "Community Interview" by interviewing someone from their family or community. This interview may provide insight for the final presentation or give students ideas for projects they may do to address the issue of homelessness in their community.

  9. Day Three Anticipatory Set: Have students write a journal entry about the previous day's field trip and their reflections on the community interview homework. This writing does not need to be shared. They will write about observations, feelings, and ideas for addressing needs they observed in their community.

  10. Students upload the pictures from the field trip onto the computer or a disk/USB drive. Teacher may assist students with this task and then teach some photo editing techniques, if needed.

  11. Students start working in small groups to create a photo journal/collage/presentation. They discuss their plans and start organizing the photos into meaningful groupings. The group should discuss the focus of the photo journal and what message they want it to portray. They may include some text in their presentation.

  12. Day Four

  13. The student groups work on and complete their photo journal/collage/presentation using presentation software (PowerPoint, Keynote, Glogster, Prezi) or poster board.

  14. Encourage students to research a housing-related public policy issue that they care about and what they can do as an individual to address the need.

  15. They practice how they will present the photo presentation to the rest of the class. Their presentation should include a statement about how they might address the needs portrayed by giving time, talent, or treasure and take action for the common good.

  16. Note: The class may decide to take this a step further and present their project to community members ortheir school.

  17. Day Five

  18. Allow time for the groups to present their community photo projects.


Teacher may assess student participation in the group project as well as completion of handouts and journal entry. The final group presentation may be graded, with individual grades determined by a student summary of the project and its focus/meaning.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how a specific civil society organization in the community operates.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.13 Describe how philanthropy can reallocate limited resources to meet human needs.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how civil-society-sector giving can impact communities.
      3. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.
    3. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Locate and map civil society organizations in the community.
    4. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.