Published: Dec 18, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Dec 18, 2012 06:14 PM
Third-grade teacher Kit Sheckler hoped to find a project that would pique students interest.
At Olive Chapel Elementary in Apex, families had been generous in recent months: They had given to food, coat, clothing and book drives.
When Shecklers class started brainstorming about which kind of cause they would like to support, a common theme emerged animals.
Students focused on helping the SPCA of Wake County, and they researched the organizations wish list. By Dec. 7, students in Shecklers class and another third-grade class had gathered donated supplies and money, and parents delivered the results to the SPCA.
Sheckler spoke with me about the experience. Q: Have you worked with students on this kind of project before?
This was the first year doing an SPCA drive. We got a new core curriculum this year, and the social studies part changed. This quarter, we have a lot of civics and government, and students learn how citizens participate in a community.
We can choose letter writing, service-learning projects or giving speeches as our activity to meet our curriculum goals.
Our class brainstormed what we should do, and animals kept coming up. We wanted to do something different and unique. When I found the book A Voice for the Animals and read it aloud to the class, we were inspired. Q: How did you choose the SPCA, and what did the students do to generate interest?
The point of the unit is to understand how they can work to help the community be a better place. We researched the SPCA: What do the letters stand for? (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). What exactly do they do?
Several students in my class got their pets from the SPCA, so there was something they could relate to.
The students created posters to get the information out to the school. We researched the SPCAs wish list online, and the students included that information and why we were doing the drive so that students and teachers all over Olive Chapel could understand our mission. The students also took turns announcing the drive on the morning announcements. Q: So was it an opportunity for multidisciplinary study?
Yes, we used the project in many different ways. One of our areas of study is opinion writing. Students wrote a paragraph about why it was important to help the SPCA. The student who won got to read the paragraph on the morning announcements.
The children also went around and collected and kept tallies as the donations increased. I tied the results into an activity about graphing. The students did different kinds of graphs like bar graphs and pictographs.
And of course, the project targeted our social studies goals. We discussed government and ways that we can all be participating members of society. Community service work is an important way to get involved. Q: Do you think youll try this activity again next year?
I would do this project again in a heartbeat. The kids were so enthusiastic. It was a joy. And most importantly, the goals tied in with our goals of teaching students 21st-century skills.