Highland Middle School, 7th Grade
I think my action has the potential to make a difference in our world.
- Highland Middle School Student
At Highland Middle School in Bellevue, WA, 7th grade students studied and informed their community about the issues of population growth, scarcity of natural resources, and the increasing impact of humans on the planet. This service learning project was incorporated into the district social studies curriculum as a mini-unit relating to units of study about India, China, and the Middle East.
As part of this unit students calculated their own ecological footprints. Students then compared their own ecological footprints to the average footprint of people living in different geographic areas. Teacher Sarah Milo reflected, “One thing that became evident as we progressed through the unit was the importance of addressing these issues right here at home...That is exactly what we did through our service learning project.”
Students provided their service by educating community members about one issue related to the environment or population growth. In class they discussed a variety of methods of providing education to different audiences. For example, students analyzed Joni Mitchell's song Big Yellow Taxi and several bumper stickers. Students also practiced writing persuasive letters.
Students exercised their choice by determining what issue they would address, who their audience would be, and what method of communication they would choose to educate their community members. Prior to taking action, students created a Service Learning Action Plan in which they outlined the steps they intended to take to see their project through. Upon completion of the project, students completed an Action Reflection as well as participated in group reflection through class discussion.
The service learning was an empowering and educational experience for everyone involved - students, community members, and teachers.
Here are some examples of projects developed by the Highland students:
- Creating a pamphlet for the teacher lounge to educate the faculty about ways to reduce water pollution
- Submitting facts to the school newsletter, The Eagles Nest, to highlight the economic and environmental benefits of riding the bus or biking to school
- Working with the principal to get more recycle bins in the school cafeteria
- Creating children's books about water pollution which were donated to local elementary schools
- Promoting education about environmental issues by creating a packet of favorite lesson plans from the unit to donate to other teachers in the district
- Writing a letter to the editor of a local paper about issues of population growth
- Creating a poster about an environmental issue to be posted in the school halls
Some of the Facing the Future lesson plans incorporated into the unit included:
- Watch Where You Step (Hamburger Fries and Cola)
- When The Chips Are Down
- Every Drop Counts
- Global Issues Trivia
Here is what some Highland Middle School students said in response to the question Will your action make a difference?
I think it will make a difference in someone because someone is going to read [my poster about wasting resources] and be touched by it.
My action will make a difference for the people who care.
Yes, because people will notice our poster [about recycling]. They will see our poster many times. Then the next time they have something recyclable, they will remember our poster and recycle.
Many people don't know much about the Greenhouse Effect. I hope some people at least learn something about it.
I don't think my action [alone] will make a difference. But I think that ALL our actions will make a difference.
I think my action won't make a difference, but it will get people thinking.