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Featured Project

DISASTER RELIEF: 2nd grade, Goldschmidt, McClure Elementary School

Grades: 2, 3 and 4 • Curriculum: Mathematics, Reading, Speaking & Listening, The Arts and Writing

Essential question: What defines a community hero, and if you were a community hero, what would you do?

Inspired by the efforts they saw in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Nancy Goldschmidt’s 2nd grade class decided to focus their service-learning project on heroes in their own community. Ms. Goldschmidt worked with the students early in the year to identify their community heroes, and ultimately the class decided they would write and illustrate a book about the heroes they met.

Student Kiana Soto said the class wanted to do a project on community heroes so they could “learn how to be safer and help people.” But classmate Amir Randall pointed out that the project could have other impacts on the students as well. “When we grow up and have to get jobs, we can remember when community heroes came to our class, and we can do what they do,” he said.

Meanwhile, to keep project momentum going throughout the interview process, Ms. Goldschmidt organized several mini-service projects for her students. For example, the class held a canned food drive contest at the school on behalf of Veterans United, an organization that distributes food to the hungry in Philadelphia. According to class member Staci Ozuna, the students amassed 1,327 food items by “going to the other classes every day and collecting. Ms. G. made a collection sheet, and we had to go to the classes and the teachers had to put the number of cans they got on it.”

The students kept track of each class's contributions on a chart outside their room. They used their calculators to tabulate the daily totals and monitored their success.

In all, the class interviewed eleven community heroes. In addition to Veterans United, they met with representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Pennsylvania SPCA, the School District of Philadelphia’s “guardian angel,” who counsels the family members of children who have been killed, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Temple University Hospital’s Trauma Center, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Blue Horizons Boxing Gym (that donates a significant portion of their proceeds to charity) and the Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments.

Prior to each visit, the students compiled a list of questions about the nature of the community partner’s job. Then, following the visits, two students were assigned the project of summarizing what they had learned, while another was asked to illustrate the story.

Their service was publishing a book that included their essays and drawings, which they sold to raise money. They also published enough copies for each student in the class. At their book signing at a local bookstore, they raised $460. The students voted to determine the beneficiaries. They donated $230 to each of two nonprofits whose work they had learned about through their project.

“A tremendous amount of time and effort went into this book,” says Ms. Goldschmidt. “The students learned a great deal about the publishing process while they improved their vocabulary and writing skills. Plus, being a young published author gives a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

Download a PDF of this Sample Project