“Make the end of the school year just as exciting as the beginning.” I just read that on Twitter, and thought, yea! That’s what I’m doing! My students are launching a service learning project. They are completely engaged in it, I’m thrilled to see them so invested, it’s an all-around love-fest in the classroom as we prepare for our upcoming can and bottle drive.
I couldn’t be happier with our progress so far. As I was developing this idea, I had this goal of my students engaging in authentic problem solving, pulling on interdisciplinary skills to gain awareness of their role as a citizen of a larger community than just family, classroom, or school. And not to pat myself on the back here, but I truly believe it’s working! My students have put their reading skills to work as they research, analyze, summarize, and synthesize the work of different non-profits. They are writing op-eds, news articles, and informational pieces about the non-profits, and our classroom processes. This week, they’ll be interpreting graphs and maps, and calculating the difference between the number of new oncologists entering the field, and incidences of cancer per year in the United States. Finally, they’ll tally, calculate, and graph the money they are raising through the can and bottle drive, to support a local cancer research hospital (the non-profit the fourth grade voted overwhelmingly to support). And for my students, even that’s not enough–they are asking me if I can help them do more, like arrange a field trip to the hospital so that they can cheer up patients in person.
So today, on the eve of the can and bottle drive kick-off, I’m asking, what on earth was I thinking?? I have NO IDEA what’s about to happen. I have parent volunteers coming in to help our class with the drive, and I can’t tell them exactly what they are helping with because I don’t know. That’s not supposed to happen–part of being a teacher (in my world, at least) is maintaining insane amounts of control over situations. What if we only get like 26 cans? Gee parents, thanks for coming to help us, but I think we can manage to sort these on our own…
Also, why on earth did I pick a can and bottle drive? You know how many bottles you need to collect to make $20? FOUR HUNDRED. So at the end of the drive, after our kids have worked so hard and become so invested, I get to announce a whopping $16.75 donation! (Some of the kids are starting to pick up on this, and asking me if they can just bring in their piggy banks. Sure kids, anything to avoid looking pathetic at the end of this!). This is what I get for trying to make the end of the year exciting, and provide authentic learning opportunities to my students.
If you need me anytime over the next four weeks, I’ll be guzzling sodas and digging through recycling bins in the teacher’s room.