Reaching Out to the Community--Beyond

6, 7, 8

To help students realize their responsibility to contribute to the community in positive ways.To introduce others to the value of the service learning project.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period Plus Out-of-School Time

The learner will:

  • define common good and community capital.
  • write a letter and design a poster to publicize their project.
  • Posterboard and markers
  • Computers
  • Envelopes and stamps
  • Telephone book


  1. Anticipatory Set: Explain to the class that, as citizens, each of us has a responsibility to act in order to improve the common good. Ask students to define "common good" (the wealth shared by the whole group of people) and give examples of how students can voluntarily contribute to it. Tell the class that they will get an opportunity to preserve local history in our community, which is a way of contributing to the common good.


  2. Introduce students to The Wellspring—an intergenerational historical writing project in which students compile a book consisting of profiles of local citizens, historical accounts, stories, and local legends.

  3. Ask students: How will we be helping our community by writing The Wellspring? Define "philanthropy" (individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good). Also describe the idea of "community capital" (the banked mutual good will and understanding of the people of a community that can be called upon at times of conflict or crisis). Ask the students to brainstorm ways that community capital has been enhanced in the school and community. Discuss how The Wellspring project will enhance "community capital."

  4. Explain: During the next six weeks, each of you will be asked to contribute to The Wellspring through a written project that you will design. You should begin thinking about older citizens that you know and stories you have heard that could be a source for your writing project. Today, we will reach out to the community to make people aware of what we are doing and solicit their help in gathering information and resources for our collective book.

  5. Ask students to help develop a list of community groups that they could contact through a written letter or a posted flyer. As students brainstorm, copy their responses on the chalkboard.

  6. Discuss what information should be included in the letter or on our flyer. Put the responses on the chalkboard. The list should include:

    • name and description of project
    • how residents can help
    • who they should contact
  7. Students should select a committee to join for today - letter writing or poster making. By the end of the class period, students should have letters drafted, typed, addressed, and sealed in an envelope, and should have posters/flyers completed and ready to post in designated areas. Seek parental support to help post flyers around town after school.


Teacher observation of student participation. Teacher observation of teamwork and time on task.

Cross Curriculum 

Students are asked to join in an effort to preserve our local history by collaborating on a book of recorded interviews. During this lesson, students are helped to understand the scope of this project and its historical significance. They will begin to select a focus for their own writing assignment, and they will advertise the project in the community to gain support from community members and help in contacting people to interview.

Read about the service-learning project called Bags of Hope 2018 by Indiana students who were taught using this Reaching Out to the Community--Beyond lesson to guide student learning and action.

Mr. Jones is a middle school teacher from Indiana who values service-learning and philanthropy education for two reasons: "We are helping those in need," he said. "And, we are teaching students how to be empathetic."  

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. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.