Bexley Middle School has a long tradition of service to the community through such events as their Harvest Festival and their annual clothing drive to benefit Charity Newsies. This year, teachers are taking significant steps to move toward enhancing these worthy service initiatives by making stronger connections to the curriculum through service-learning.
Serving as an "investigation" activity, Bexley M.S. held one of this year’s three “Community and Service Days” on October 17th, where students participated in a variety of activities. Eighth grade students had self-selected sites beforehand and were out serving in the community for most of the day. When they arrived back at school, they spent the last hour reflecting on their experiences and brainstorming ideas for curriculum-based service-learning projects that their homeroom teams will do throughout the year. Service sites included Franklin Park Conservatory (helping in the community gardens and with grounds maintenance), Christ Lutheran Preschool (reading to children), Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry, and others. The eighth-graders and their teachers will return to these same sites in March and in May.
While the eighth-graders were out of the building, seventh grade students experienced the “Making Ends Meet” Poverty Simulation"* as their "investigation/preparation" activity. In groups of three, four, or five, students acted as “families” who were tasked with paying one month’s worth of bills on salaries at or near the Federal Poverty Level. Afterward, teachers and students took time to reflect, and it was clear that the activity opened many eyes. One student said, “I realized that it’s not just homeless people who are poor – other people might be poor too, because they just don’t have very much money.” Another student said, “The fact that we couldn’t afford cell phones or a car [was scary]. What if there was an emergency?”
October 17th was a meaningful day at Bexley Middle School. We look forward to seeing how the day’s service and learning will impact their year ahead!
*Full instructions for the “Making Ends Meet” Poverty Simulation are currently in the publication phase and will be available on this website soon. If you would like to use this activity sooner, please contact Karen (firstname.lastname@example.org).