As concerned and involved adult teacher, administrator, and educator stakeholders, we are involved in addressing local issues of hunger. Some of us donate time and volunteer at soup kitchens or work in community urban gardens whose produce is distributed among the needy. While we as caring and sensitive adults are happy to do what we can to address this evolving crisis, as teachers and family of elementary students, we “shy “away from actually engaging our under 11 students in on site service learning that involves helping hungry adults and children. This is ironic since theorists such as Wilhelm, Douglas and Fry (2014) believe that meaningful skills learning can and does emerge from inquiry and service learning. Some of us have the students read articles or collect cans or other foods for distribution to the hungry through drives, but never have the students authentically interact or develop a useful produce product that they can see meaningfully consumed by the target hungry persons who receipt canned goods from school food drives. This literally means that the students miss their opportunity to realize some of Hoerr’s (2016) formative five qualities for learning and living including the literal embrace of diversity and the sense of having acted with integrity toward needy among them.
Librarian, licensed elementary educator, community activist and international citizen of the world, Lynn Rosen felt that beyond fostering literacy, it was also her responsibility as an educator to make certain her young students 9- 13 actually interacted with more than a collection receptacle as they contributed cans to food drives. In addition, she realized that using chromebooks as a connected device would authenticate the literacy tasks that were inherently involved in this multisensory citizenship in action ongoing learning experience.
Lynn evolved a direct earth and individuals in need contact program which made the angst and paradoxically the joy of tackling the hunger issue come vivid for young citizens as they metaphorically embraced diversity.
Here are the highlights of her student owned and student real world project which she titles: From seed to soup kitchen. This is how Lynn envisions each project. Students of course put their own stamp on this vision.
Ms. Rosen conceptualizes:
Social Activism at its best
**Read one of my books about poverty and discuss why it is so important to help others.
Introduce Mr. Rights and his Hunger Plight. We will be reading this and Mr. Rights Fights Poverty throughout the five weeks.
Mr. Rights fights for human rights.
**Writing and graphing are an important part of this program. Therefore, although the outreach is authentic service learning and social justice, the activities are literacy driven to contextualize that experience (MacGregor, 2014). After hearing about Mr. Rights the students can start their chromebook project word files to interactively write in groups or independently about some causes in their neighborhoods. I may also record these discussions so that at the end of the project the students can listen and talk about the ways in which their ideas or assumptions were accurate or not and reflect on what they have learned during the project. These will be informational and reflective writings.
During the year, we will tackle those causes. Therefore, they have through their own research from online, print and human experts identified a cause that engages them emotionally and intellectually.
We begin planting on the 3rd day of week one. We will plant seeds that produce fruit and vegetables. We will photograph and perhaps keep running video of the planting so that we can edit the project into a Seed to Soup kitchen video at the end and use it to inspire next year’s classes.
We will start a planting journal. In doing so the students will be grade and age appropriately authenticating journal writing skills. Of course, this will be kept by the young journalists in their own chromebooks and I will comment on them frequently. They will also be inculcated in science note taking and observation skills. The chromebook will allow these to follow science procedure and be dated. They also be pairing diagrams including plant growth graphs with their science observation skills. These will be kept in chromebook picture files. The fact that they are planting the seeds literally means that the plants literally are their own plus the writing, observing, and graphing journals are metaphorically theirs as well.
Each week into the project (it may take as many as five weeks), we will check and graph our planting. This means getting dirty. We will go into the gardens and sketch/write our feelings. Perhaps we will read some of Emily Dickinson’s or Henry David Thoreau’s writings.
In Week Two we will take pictures of our garden and the children working. These pictures will go into our print publications and ongoing flyers about the project and perhaps one will be used as a poster based on the student’s voting. It is imperative to have releases so if we include them in a book we can use the pictures. If not we can do a book without using them.
Also in Week Two I will introduce Vinod Bodhankar. He is my mentor from India. He is visiting me. He designed a program entitled Sagarmitra. This program involves families. The children bring in plastics from home. They do not go into the street to collect. This is a home project.
We graph how many plastics we have. We will collect the plastics and I will have someone pick them up. Sagarmitra means friends of the ocean. Students will research and write about various cultural water spirits. Their chromebooks will access them to these Google resources and I will curate grade and age level appropriate resources. They will have the option of creating imaginative stories in which these spirits visit 21st century to battle water pollution. Some will decide to do graphic narratives and others will do poetry. We will store these in our chromebooks for expo printing.
They become responsible citizens. Water and hunger walk hand in hand and introducing planting. Sagarmitra is teaching sustainability.
We keep writing in our journals and we also continue checking our growth in both planting and Sagarmitra. Every day they write in one form or another.
If there are little ones in the program they can design/create pictures to enhance the beauty of the soup kitchen. The chromebooks will allow their hand drawn pictures or graphic ones to be stored and printed out in multiple copies for the soup kitchen. In this way, they are doing actual products which will be used by the target audience and citizens this project is designed to serve.
In this week, something special happens. Cultural Bridges is a Lynn’s Kids program. My students from India will speak to our students about how they participated in Sagarmitra, how it made them feel and why it is so important to help others. They are powerful speakers.
In this week, we will be charting both Sagarmitra and planting. We should be seeing growth in our planting. I will also contact the Borough President’s office to tell them what they are doing with the planting. Giving back does not always happen in Our New York.
Products beyond needed seed to soup kitchen produce:
The children should have enough writing for a book. We take all of their writing and put it together. The chromebooks will have the full range of all the materials we have developed and the students and I will select those to be included in the book. The proceeds of the book about poverty and hunger will go back to your organization. Thus, activism is born. Children love to see their work in print. Each child will get a copy of the book we publish.
We will present what we planted to the soup kitchen. They can come to us if parents object us coming to them. Our meeting will be filmed and If for some reason, we are not fully planted by that time I can return when school starts for a day and go with the children. We will appoint monitors who will check on our growth daily.
We will have a celebration of our writing, our giving back and to showcase our pride in their work. Teaching children to give back at an early age is providing better citizens for tomorrow.
Other potential arts based seeds of this project include:
We will also have time to design T-SHIRTS FOR HUNGER. I created this program. Children design and create these shirts, sell them at a parent meeting. The proceeds go to one of New York’s hunger groups. My students had an auction and wound up making $689.00. They read their hunger poetry and sold shirts. They had such a sense of accomplishment. Here is the finished product. Realize it is not about the product but the process. This is in line with the research of MacGregor (2013) and Wilhelm et al (2014).
Lynn’s Kids have camps in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, India, Cameroon, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Ivory Coast, France, U.K. and U.S.A. Yes, we are international.
The elementary students in these projects are inculcated in traditional science topics and math skills activities (which the Chromebooks fully document with a wealth of multimedia individual student data and aggregate data ) including planting, graphing, science observation writing and literacy activities such as journaling, poetry reading and themed tee shirt design . But these traditional skills exercises take meaning and force as students experience how they begin to concretely address the social issue of hunger and community engagement with literal embracing of diversity , integrity, empathy and grit (Hoerr, 2016). Not only is Lynn Rosen’s vision a hands –on science, math and literacy experience plus it demonstrates how young students can extend their hands out to reach and raise up those in need. The planting of the seed does more than result in produce to be served at the soup kitchen, it serves up the full platter of potential helping hand, empathetic citizen habits of daily life. The Chromebooks serve as a repository to substantiate through videos, pictures, audio files, word stories and more all of these crucial citizenship and community interactions and actions. It is these that will assure that today’s elementary students evolve as tomorrow’s caring citizens.
Hoerr, T. R. (2016). The formative five: Fostering grit, empathy, and other success skills every student needs. Alexandria, Va: ASCD.
MacGregor, M. G. (2013). Building everyday leadership in all kids: An elementary curriculum to promote attitudes and actions for respect and success. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
Berger, Cathyrn, (2007). A Kid’s Guide to Hunger and Homelessness-How to take action. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
“Competition Allows Students to Solve World Hunger”
Kid World Citizen
Let’s Lasso the Moon
“Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design for Elementary Education”
“Teaching Young Children about Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice”
Dr. Rose Reissman,
Academic and Grant Funding Director for Sector 5
About Sector 5,
Sector 5, Inc. (OTCQB: SFIV), is a Proud American Corporation, that sells, manufactures and develops new innovative consumer electronics under Sector 5 and other brands. The Company markets its partnership with Google approved Chromebooks to educational organizations, other B2B and B2C sales channels, with retail sales on Amazon. It is in development of several new products to serve the educational, business and retail markets. Follow the company on http://www.twitter.com/sectorfiveinc and http://www.facebook.com/sect5 and find further information at http://www.sector-five.com. For Sector 5’s Forward Looking Statements, click here.