The Memory Project at Cooper High School

Art students at Cooper High School took on a very powerful art project. Students received photos of Syrian child refugees and created a realistic portrait in any medium for the child. The art students learned how art can act as a megaphone for the social injustices and the needs in our community.  Students began promoting this issue through social media and through gallery at school. As a result, students gained compassion and advocated for the needs of Syrian refugees.

Art students at Cooper High School participated in this project through The Memory Project.

The Memory Project is a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as violence, disasters, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents.

They want the portraits to help the children feel valued and important, to know that many people care about their well being, and to act as meaningful pieces of personal history in the future. For the art students, we want this to be an opportunity to creatively practice kindness and global awareness.

To do this, The Memory Project receives photos of children and teens from global charities operating residential homes, schools, and care centers in a number of different countries every year.

Then they provide our participating art teachers with full-page color prints as well as digital copies of those photos, along with plastic sleeves to protect the finished portraits. The art teachers then work with their students to create the portraits, and we hand-deliver them to the kids.  We always try to have several different portraits for each child, created by different art students and based on different poses.

Finally, The Memory Project makes a video of each delivery to share with all of the art students and teachers involved. Since 2004 they have created more than 100,000 portraits for children in 43 countries.  For more information, check out their FAQs.

Ockerman Elementary School 5th Grade Market

5thgrade students made products, speeches, and advertisements through their unit on economics. Students learned how to sell, research, and advertise a good. Students were able to make enough money to buy enrichment furniture for the classrooms to help students focus more in class. The students chose which furniture to buy for the classroom and wrote their own speech and advertisement.

5th graders at Ockerman Elementary created and sold goods.

Stephens Elementary Garden Club

It may seem daunting to start a garden at your school or to pick up where another class has left off, but Stephens Elementary has well documented their successful process to share with others:

Stephens Elementary Garden Club started with 20 students in the spring of 2017. Students were then split into 4 groups with 1 student named as the group leader. Group names were developed and journals were created for recording important dates, ideas, and reflection.

Students began with an assessment of the grounds. Two groups created a list of priority jobs needing to be done in the garden. Two other groups researched planting indoor seedlings.

In the spring, the club focused on cleaning up 9 over grown raised beds, dismantling 2 rotted beds, and weeding the grounds surrounding the beds. The students planted tomato, pepper and lettuce and various herbs by seed. Seed markers were created, and materials for recycling to create art for the garden were investigated.

students prepare beds
building raised beds

In late spring, students created 2 herb beds out of recycled wood pallets. Students painted patterns in collaboration with the art teacher and their garden group. Designs were recorded in journals and agreed upon prior to the project. Students researched garden designs on IPads and created designs in their journals.

decorating pallets
students research

The students’ last days before summer break was spent weeding, reflecting about their garden needs and journaling thoughts for the fall. The groups determined that they would investigate cold frame gardening in the fall.

students weed the garden
weeding the garden
weeding the garden
weeding the garden
weeding the garden

Upon returning to school in the fall of 2017, the gardening club continues with 14 returning members and one new member with continued interest.

Students started the year weeding and cleaning up their raised beds and researching cold weather plants for fall. They documented plants they were interested in planting and after further research found that planting by seed was not always an option. Students made a list of plants and flowers that we could grow during the cold season: garlic, spinach, kale, mustard greens and lettuce. Students also decided to plant chrysanthemums to add color and interest.

One teacher commented on the work of the students, “The students’ hard work is starting to have an effect on our school! Many teachers have commented on how happy they are to see all the weeds gone outside their classrooms.”

The garden club also partnered with a local Eagle Scout to build a little library for the garden. The school’s custodian volunteered to work with the Garden Club to build a cold frame.

The garden club received a donation from Kinman Farm for a fall display of pumpkins for decorating the garden area, and later dried seeds for pumpkin planting in the spring.

In October, the Garden Club worked outside weeding beds, watering and harvesting spinach and kale. The students were excited to see how their seeds had developed into plants. Tasting and picking fresh greens from our garden was a highlight for many students that have never had those experiences.

Near the end of October, the cold frame and little library were completed and installed. The Garden Club will not officially meet again until spring, however, students created a schedule to determine who will be responsible for checking on the garden’s needs during school hours– watering, picking, and weeding until spring.

We can’t wait to hear what spring of 2018 has in store for the Stephens Elementary Garden Club!

If you’d like to start a garden at your school, consider checking out the Civic Garden Center’s 52 Weeks in the School Garden.

How to Survive Middle School

At the beginning of this school year, 8th graders at Ockerman Middle School presented advice to the 6th graders on how to “survive” (or be successful) over the next 3 years of middle school. Through this project, 8th graders followed the steps of the writing process, cited personal evidence, developed a thesis, and incorporated technology. Students learned oral presentation skills, organization, and compassion for their fellow classmates. The students decided what advice to present to the 6th graders as well as providing their personal examples as support. They also had their choice in how to present the information. The relationship between 6th and 8th graders at Ockerman Middle School has certainly changed. The 8th graders did a great job helping the 6th graders to feel more comfortable in the school building.

Does your neighborhood have a little library?

Little Libraries are popping up all over the country! They are a wonderful way for your students to share their love of reading with the community.

Little Libraries can be placed in your neighborhood, near your school, local police station, fire station, or recreation center—just be sure to obtain permission when placing them on public property.

Little Free Library has tips on how to get started and we’ve incorporated ways to further embed learning into the process.

Step One: Identify a Location & Caretaker.  Identify areas in their community that could most benefit from a little library.

Step Two: Build a Library. Use math and geometry when building your little library.

Step Three: Register your library

Step Four: Build Support. Create a schedule for checking on and restocking the little library.

Step Five: Add your library to the world map. Learn about different areas of the world based on where little libraries are located.

Second graders at Yealey Elementary are in the process of creating their own little library.  Students held a book drive to ensure that their peers will be able to read at home if they do not have the resources to get their own books.

A Courtyard Upgrade

The North Pointe Student Council wanted to upgrade the school’s courtyard. First, the students decided what needed to be done and how we could accomplish it. Students wanted to have more tables out in the courtyard so we could have more classes sit outside. The students did some research and found that Lowe’s had the best price.

The students then called the manager at Lowe’s they negotiated a lower price and free assembly.

Thanks to the help of Lowe’s the student council was able to help create a courtyard to better serve the students and teachers in their building.

Third Graders at North Pointe Elementary help a local non-profit

Third graders at North Pointe Elementary held a fundraiser for New Perceptions; a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enriching lives of those with intellectual/developmental disabilities, the project was so much more than a fundraiser.

Students researched New Perceptions in small groups and made Power Point presentations to share the work of the organization with all the students in their school. Each group was assigned a different grade level to present to.

Nov.13- Nov.17th students sold inspirational pencils in the front lobby to raise money for New Perceptions. You could buy 6 pencils for $5.00 or one pencil for $1.00.

One third grade teacher explained, “This was an awesome project. Students truly got a better understanding of what a disability is. A lot of research and hard work went into understanding what New Perceptions does for children and adults with disabilities.”

JDRF Awareness Campaign at Burlington Elementary School

Last semester first grade students at Burlington Elementary learned about juvenile diabetes. Their teacher, Mrs. Bross shared her experiences with her three children have had with diabetes.

Mrs. Bross’ daughter came to speak to the student and shared what it is like to have diabetes. She explained how doctors and nutritionists work to help her and others with diabetes to regulate sugar levels in their blood.

Students created posters to encourage others to support the JDRF. They counted out the tags students received if they donated and helped to count the money.

Students raised $560 to benefit the local chapter of The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Grant’s Lick Elementary: Mail Call for our Heroes

Fourth grade students at Grant’s Lick Elementary read “Our Parents Are Soldiers” (Scholastic News Edition 4, November 6, 2017). They used the “Write to a Hero” graphic organizer to plan a letter thanking a veteran. This involved reviewing parts of a letter: opening, body, and closing. Letters were mailed to Operation Gratitude. Reflection was embedded throughout the assignment in the form of discussion and Writer’s Notebook entries. Special focus was given to audience awareness and author’s purpose.

After researching and reading about military families in Writing Workshop, students wrote and illustrated holiday letters to active members of the military. This learning activity connected to ongoing on-demand writing practice, attention to audience, and focus on clear, correct, and complete communication. Student samples were also displayed on a bulletin board during a breakfast celebration to honor veterans.

Check out for additional service learning projects, resources and more.

St. Thomas School Gives Back

The students at St. Thomas School have been busy this school year giving back to their community:

  • The preschool students want everyone to have a bedtime story and a warm pair of pajamas. Students held their own pajama day at school and read books as part of their donation drive and collected 61 pairs of pajamas to donate through the Great Bedtime Pajama Drive.
  • Second grade students made 39 Christmas ornaments for all those who were baptized in The Thomas Church this year. Then, students reflected on their own baptism.
  • The third, fourth and fifth grade students made decorations and ornaments for the residents of The Barrington. They delivered the ornaments and decorations to the residents and were able to listen to their stories about their holidays growing up. Then, the students discussed how this made them feel and how it affected the residents.
  • The sixth grade held a baby product donation drive for the Rose Garden. Upon completing the drive, students were able to tour the Rose Garden and stock the pantry with their donations, allowing students to see the impact they made on the organization.
  • The 7th grade students wrote autobiographies and put them into a book. They visited Carmel Manor, read their books to the residents and gave them the books. After reading the books to them, the students asked them about their childhood.
  • The 8th grade students made and sold Christmas ornaments, dog treats, toys for cats and dogs to benefit Lucky Tails Rescue.