The holiday season often marks the launch of toy and canned food drives in schools. Use this activity to deepen students understanding of those being served and the dynamics of poverty in the United States.
What "little" things do you do that might marginalize your students in poverty?
More educators are turning to service-learning projects for charitable activities — and helping to foster connections between students and the human beings they aim to serve.
Third grade was a bad year. Third grade was the year I learned in school that I was poor.
I like to switch things up every once in a while, so I assigned my high school students a project I’d never done before—a gift book. In addition to the academic value, I hoped to strengthen at least one teen-adult connection at a time when it’s sometimes hard to just grunt, “Good morning,” without an argument. (I know this because I have two teens in my own house.) I also wanted students to be able to create a keepsake to give a loved one during the holiday season. Many students could not afford to buy anything. In our rural school, many students come from low-income homes.
I asked a small group of second-graders what they would like to find inside their mailboxes. That was after we read a story about a goose who opened her mailbox and found a kite. I expected to hear answers of things: video games, toys or basketballs. But the first student who raised her hand looked at me with sincere, big brown eyes and said, "I'd like to find a letter from my dad." In my classroom, my kids say the profoundest things.
One South Texas school district fights for stability in the lives of homeless children.
Something about Belinda’s brave smile looks familiar to me. The briefest shadow darkens her face while other students banter about the gifts they’ve asked for and the ones they’ve already received. Because she’s outgoing, the other kids don’t recognize the proud face she wears while they talk of skiing, sumptuous meals and overseas travel. Belinda never says a word. She just smiles and listens.
Two small boys on a plantation strike up a dangerous friendship.