Special things happening….

A little while ago I was encouraging educators to join us on Working together 2 make a difference and support the bushfire relief effort. I am so pleased to let you know that some very special things are happening on that site. Our membership has grown and we have seen the service learning efforts of educators and students from many different parts of the world.

I just had to highlight a couple of special moments from the last couple of days. Bill Ferriter from North Carolina (I hope I’m right there Bill!) has quietly been working away with his grade six students and posted this;

One of the things that I’m proud of is that my sixth grade students are really aware of the world around them. With the help of my buddy, Mike Hutchinson, I’ve developed a daily current event lesson that ties together our social studies and language arts curriculum nicely.

Better yet, it’s a lesson that my kids embrace completely because they love knowing more about the world around them. Every year when I survey my students, current events is what they like the best about my class because it makes them feel important and knowledgeable when they’re sitting at the kitchen table with their parents.

So when the Austrailian brush fires started, my students were consumed by the news. Watching video of fire streaming through neighborhoods and destroying cars was heartbreaking for them. We talked about how similar the devastation was to the scenes after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans—and we talked about how we might be able to help from a thousand miles away.

Our solution was simple: We decided to try to earn $5.00 a piece to donate to the Red Cross disaster relief fund. We picked $5.00 because it represented one good paperback book—-something that we value greatly. The thought that we might be able to help replace destroyed classroom libraries was really quite cool to our kids.

Over the course of two weeks, we ended up raising $245—-$110 of which came from an impromptu rose sale on Valentines Day that started when one of our students showed up with 150 roses to sell.

But more importantly, we ended up feeling good because we knew that we’d helped out!

Now, on to our next project—Do Something Funny for Money Day:

http://snipurl.com/funny4money     

My reply was this;

Bill, please convey to your students how touched we are by their generosity. It warms my heart and I’m sure the hearts of others to know that students from so far away can sympathise and relate to a tragedy many miles from them. Today was our National Day of Mourning for what has come to be known as Black Saturday here in Australia. Healing has begun, but we are still a long way from recovery. Knowing Grade 6 students from the United States have reached out to us is one of the steps to aid in the healing process.

Then tonight when I visited I discovered a new member, Carolyn Wojtera  (from Virginia) and a photostory her Grade 1 students had made in response to the crisis;

I feel so good about Working together 2 make a difference and I know Angela and Laura do too. Our community is definitely forming  – we would love to see you there too.

Service learning = responsible teaching. Join Working together 2 make a difference.

working_together_2_make_a_difference

There are some things you do because you have to, and there are some things you do because they’re important.  Working together 2 make a difference is something I do because it’s important. I don’t do it alone. I work with Angela and Laura Stockman from New York State who believe in it just as much as I do.   

But we’d like to see it grow. We have 44 members currently from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States , but we’d  love to see our reach extend to more participants from all corners of the globe. Angela sums up what we’re looking for with this;

We’re eager to encourage membership and make this space valuable to those who join, but I don’t think that any of us wants to have more of a presence in this space than any other member. We truly want to encourage collaboration and meaningful participation. In short, we WANT people to WANT to be there.

Take a look at Mike Poluk’s page. Here’s a teacher from Canada inspiring his yr 5 students to do something positive. Teenager Sarah Hanson has got behind us and has written an article that will be published in a WNY newspaper in the near future. Helen Page has done great things with Year 9 students from her public school here in Australia. Amanda Ritter is embarking on her efforts and is embedding it into curriculum. All of  these examples inspire me to encourage and support the students I teach in their efforts.   

I don’t  know if you’ve ever done something that makes a difference to the lives of others. It is truly something to experience that feeling of giving and it’s a feeling we need to allow our students to experience. Join the site and do something within your school community that will help out others in need. You’ll feel good, your kids will feel good and you’ll be making a difference.