Community Activism and Service-Learning
Prepared by A. Somers


Rationale:

Service learning can be a very powerful motivator for students. In her article, “Research on K-12School-Based Service-Learning the Evidence Builds”, Shelley Billig states that students who engage in high quality service-learning show an increased awareness of their communities’ needs and they develop a greater sense of civic responsibility. These same students also had improved problem solving skills (2012, p.661). She goes on to explain that students engaged in these types of learning projects became more socially responsible, they improved their communication skills, and were more likely to treat one another with compassion (2012, p.660).

The key to a successful service learning project is to find a one in which the students have a vested interest. In an article about activating student citizens, Lisa Wing explains that there are certain criteria that must be met in order to embark on a project that will invite student activism (Wing, 2012, p.5). The topic selected must have some local importance. Students need to see the relevance to their lives. The topic should have a legitimate audience. Simply working on a project to hand in to a teacher or to post on a school bulletin board is not inspiring. If a student knows that their audience is someone who can actually make a difference, they will feel empowered. The project should have a tangible end product. The results of the project should be measurable. Finally, the topic selected should allow possibilities for students to research how other communities have addressed similar issues (Wing, 2012 p.5).

The key to this unit on community activism and service -learning is to tie it to authentic uses of technology. There was an interesting article in Education Week about students creating APPS to help their communities create a network to help put overstocked food in the hands of needy residents (Ash, 2012). This project achieved the goals of improving the community while utilizing digital technology skills. Students created their own learning opportunities. In a very real sense, they engaged in a participator culture (Jenkins et al, 2006, p.6) by inviting the community to interact with their final product: the APP.

This unit plan is designed to create a participatory culture that extends beyond the classroom walls. Students will be expected to engage in discussions with other students and community members to recognize a local problem or issue. They will collaborate with teammates to develop a plan to solve this problem or bring about awareness in the local community. Finally, they will decide the best method to communicate their findings to all of the stakeholders by evaluating different digital media tools to determine which meets the goals of the project.

UNIT PLAN

NJCCCS Standards:


6.3.4.A.3: Select a local issue and develop a group action plan to inform school and/or community members about the issue.

8.1.4.A.1: Recognize a problem and brainstorm ways to solve the problem individually or collaboratively.

8.1.4.B.1 : Produce a media-rich digital story about a significant local event or issue based on first-person interviews.
-OR-
8.1.4.A.3: Create and present a multimedia presentation that includes graphics.

9.1.4.E.2: Demonstrate effective communication using digital media during classroom activities.

ISTE-NETS S: 2, 3,4,5,6


Keywords:

Community
Activism
Multimedia
Service-learning
Search engines
Databases
QR codes (Quick Response Codes)
Google Maps

Objectives:

What do I want the students to learn?
1. Community activism requires collaboration and problem solving skills.
2. Citizenship requires each individual to participate in activities that work for the betterment of society and demonstrate civic responsibility.
3. To communicate our ideas effectively, we need to select the most appropriate digital tools.


Unit Description:


Fourth grade students will identify a town problem such as; the geese issue at local lake, safety issues for students walking or riding bikes to school, or litter at a local park. Students will brainstorm possible solutions and research ways to deal with the problem. Then they will also decide the best method to use to inform the community about possible consequences or viable solutions to this problem. Possible suggestions might be a digital newsletter for the community that includes multimedia components such as videotaped interviews and interactive maps. Signs can be posted at a particular site that includes QR codes to direct fellow citizens to important information regarding this issue.

Technology:


Google forms
Wikispaces
Glogster
Photostory /Windows Movie Maker/ iMovie/ or Animoto
Google Maps:
Flip Cameras or other video equipment
Digital Cameras/ iPods/ iPads


Supplementary Resources


Search Engines:

Twurdy (provides readability levels): http://www.twurdy.com/index.php
Sweet Search a search engine for students:http://www.sweetsearch.com/
Visual search engines:
Instagrok:http://www.instagrok.com/
Oolone: http://www.oolone.com/


How to create wikis with Google Sites:
https://sites.google.com/site/edtoolstrade/google-sites
Using Google Docs and Forms:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/88518869/Google-Docs-for-Teachers-2012


QR code generators:
http://keremerkan.net/qr-code-and-2d-code-generator/
http://snap.vu/
http://www.qrstuff.com/
http://delivr.com/QR-Code-Generator
http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ ( You an also download a QR Code reader at this site.)
http://goqr.me/
http://www.qurify.com/en/
http://icandy.ricohinnovations.com/rocket2/


QR Code Classroom activities
http://www.slideshare.net/jonesytheteacher/40-interesting-ways-to-use-qr-codes-in-the-classroom
http://www.classtools.net/QR/


Glogster:
http://edu.glogster.com/


Making videos on the Web:
http://tinyurl.com/29nr6jq



Animoto for Education:
http://animoto.com/education


Activities:


Early Preparations:


Set the stage early for this project by setting aside time each week to discuss local current events. Clip articles about local community issues and post them in the room. Students need to have an awareness of the issues before they can be expected to have a discussion about these topics. Make a list of the concerns that the class is interested in following. (Possible ideas: geese overpopulation, littering at a local park, safety issues for students walking or riding bikes to school)

As the year progresses have a discussion about what people can do to address issues like these. What are ways that we can create change in our society? How would we decide which issue we would like to address? What kinds of questions should we ask and who should we ask? Other questions that may be useful for class discussions are:
    • Who does this issue affect?
    • What are the consequences or results of this issue or problem?
    • Why should people in our community care about this issue or problem?
    • Who should be responsible for correcting this situation?
The teacher can post questions to the classroom webpage or blog to invite further discussion about the topics.

This unit requires the student to have some knowledge of basic citation format. Students must know what information should be collected from a source in order to accurately cite it using the MLA format. They should also know what a wiki is and how to post and comment to a class wiki. Finally, they should have some experience with one or more video tools such as Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Photo Story, or Animoto.

Week One:

When the class has accumulated three or four issues that they feel are important to them, they can develop a questionnaire or poll that will help them identify which issue or topic they can tackle as a class. It could be posted on the class website, to a Google form, or be distributed as a white paper survey. Send a letter home to parents encouraging them to complete the questionnaire along with their children. Invite other classes in the school to answer the questions. Another option would be to ask the computer classes to take a few minutes to have students complete the questionnaire during classtime.

Weeks Two and Three:


For this age group and level of experience it would be best to have the entire class focused on one central issue or topic. So the students must analyze the information from the Google forms and written questionnaires to identify the issue that they believe they can address or the one that seems to have the greatest impact on their lives.

Assign students to teams and have them research the issue. Students should brainstorm and record questions that will help guide their research. Are other towns having similar problems? Are there any additional news articles about this issue? Why is this problem? What kinds of solutions have others tried? Is the town currently trying to solve the problem? They can record their research questions and results on a page like the one found on Appendix A.

Each group will be required to videotape or record one interview with a member of the community regarding this issue. It would be a good idea to brainstorm a list of community members whose input would be valuable to this topic. For instance, if it is a safety issue it would certainly be appropriate to interview a member of the local police force. If it has to do with public policy the mayor might be a good choice. The students should determine the list of interview candidates. The teacher can assist with lining up possible dates and times for these interviews.

Be sure to explain the group dynamics before they begin. Students should be assigned roles within the group that will help to differentiate the learning process. For instance, struggling readers might be encouraged to take on the task of interviewing a local official instead of scouring the internet. ESL students might be given the task of collecting data to create charts and diagrams. Another student in the group could be responsible for publishing the search results to a class wiki. See a sample wiki here: http://tinyurl.com/6tcfnpx

Use this time to teach students about some basic research tricks and tips. Google is a very valuable tool, but not always the best search engine for the job. If they haven’t had a chance to use other search engines this would be a good opportunity to introduce them, particularly ones that offer assistive technology features such as “Twurdy” which presents results with colored coded readability levels. Instagrok and Oolone are both considered visual search engines that provide concept maps and other visual clues that can be particularly helpful for students with special needs. Sweet Search is a search engine specifically geared to younger students. See the resource list for links to these search engines.

There are other tools that will be useful to the diverse needs of the students in the classroom. For instance, some databases offer an auditory tool so that struggling readers can hear the articles. Other databases and online encyclopedias have built in dictionaries so students can get immediate assistance with difficult words. Depending on the topic selected, Points of View Reference Center might be an excellent tool to help the students examine both sides of the issue.

Be sure that the students are keeping accurate records of every source that they use. This can easily be accomplished by creating a class wiki. Each group would be given a page to report their findings and list the resources that they used. Establish a uniform format for reporting research results. (See Appendix A for a sample form.).

Encourage the students to post comments to the discussion section of each page. Ask them compare and contrast their findings, or examine the types of sources that are being used. Their opinions must be supported by facts. They cannot simply state, “I disagree” or “I think so too”. It might be wise to provide a list of opening lines to help get them started on their discussions:

I thought this idea was ................ because ...........................................
I was surprised that ..................................................
This made me wonder about ..............................................................
I didn’t know that ............................................................................
This reminded me of ..........................................................................


Weeks Four and Five:


At this time the students should be ready to determine how they can share their findings with the community. Once students have exhausted their research and posted comments to the wiki they need to evaluate the information to decide what the best course of action would be to resolve the issue or raise awareness about this concern. Possible ideas could be

  • Design a digital newsletter or poster (Glogster)
  • Create and distribute pamphlets or signs with QR codes
  • Invite community members to view a PowerPoint/Prezi presentation
  • Create a video
  • Create an interactive map with Google Maps.

The class should discuss questions such as; who would our audience be and what do we hope to accomplish with the presentation? Debate the pros and cons of each technology. Which digital tools will have the most significant impact on solving the problem? It may be fun to create a video, but if no one sees it, it does not accomplish the goal of the project.. Students should even be asked it technology is an appropriate tool for this purpose. Would it be more effective to simply write a letter or create a petition?

Be sure to show examples of each type of project. For instance, students may or may not be familiar with QR (quick response) codes. QR codes can store a wide variety of information such as a website URL, phone numbers, geographic locations, and calendar events. Let them try out QR codes using i Pods so they can get the feel for how they are used. A list of QR code generators is provided in the Supplementary Resources section of this unit plan. Be sure to download a QR code reader in addition to the generator. Although most QR readers are APPS used on smartphones, there are desktop readers available as well. Consider posting links to these sites on the class web page so that families can try these out at home as well. One word of warning when using QR codes or any other media that uses hyperlinks is that care must be taken to use only viable links. Outdated or broken links defeat the purpose of using this form of technology.

Each team of students will collaborate to create a multimedia ad campaign to raise awareness about this issue. Be sure to take time to define what multimedia means. Students should be given the exact criteria for the project in advance. Give them a planning guide to help them map out their project. (See Appendix B). They need to complete the organizer and provide a list of resources with weblinks.
.
Depending on their approach students may need the following:
○ Access to digital cameras and video cameras.
○ A scheduled walking tour of town to enable students to take pictures or create videos.
○ Mini lesson on creating an interactive map on Google Maps. Sample:
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=202994166753422046919.0004a3a7918b9e9845c73&msa=0


○ Mini lessons on using Glogster to create an interactive digital newsletter.
○ Access to the internet to create QR codes
○ Access to computers to create videos using Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Photo story, or Animoto.

.While students are preparing their projects, invitations should be sent to all of the stakeholders such as school leaders, parents, interviewees, and community leaders to ask them to attend a formal presentation of the students’ work.

Week Six and Beyond:


Stakeholders are invited to attend a special presentation of the multimedia projects. In addition, all of the presentations are uploaded to the class wiki. Comments to the wiki should be encouraged and students should continue to monitor the wiki throughout the school year to see if other members of their community voice their opinions. They may be surprised to find that their ideas are valued by a global audience. A white paper newsletter should also be created and sent home with students. The newsletter will include QR codes directing the reader to the class wiki and other useful resources found during the course of this project.

Finally, students should take time to reflect on both the process they went through and the end product they designed by completing the Group and Self-evaluation forms. These can be used to help guide class further class discussions and future projects (See Appendix C and D).


Assessments:


Each of the different multimedia projects would require specific assessment tools unique to that form of digital technology. In all cases however, the students should be expected to explain their rationale for selecting their media format and complete a group and or self-evaluation to measure the effectiveness of the collaboration amongst students.

Digital Newsletter (Glogster)

■ At least three (3) hyperlinks are included.
■ All links are accurate and well referenced.
■ Graphics are a combination of original and researched images or videos.
■ All sources (for facts and images) are cited in MLA format.
■ The main idea is clearly presented and supported by details and evidence.
■ The use of all media is appropriate and well balanced.
■ All facts, quotes and interviews are used effectively.
■ All text follows acceptable conventions for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
■ The design must enhance not distract from the message.


QR code pamphlets and/or signs:

■ All text follows acceptable conventions for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
■ There is an effective use of facts, quotes, and interviews.
■ At least three QR codes are included.
■ There is a creative integration of original and researched images.
■ The main idea is clearly presented with details and evidence to support it.
■ All links are accurate and well referenced.
■ MLA citations are used for all resources.
■ There is evidence of solid planning in the form of graphic organizers.
■ The use of media is appropriate and well balanced.


PowerPoint or Prezi:

■ The presentation includes at least 5 slides incorporating a combination of text, images, and at
least three (3) hyperlinks.
■ All text follows acceptable conventions for spelling, punctuation, and grammar
■ There is an effective use of facts, quotes, and interviews.
■ There is a creative integration of original and researched images.
■ The main idea is clearly presented with details and evidence to support it.
■ All links are accurate and well referenced.
■ MLA citations are used for all resources.
■ There is evidence of solid planning in the form of graphic organizers.
■ The use of media is appropriate and well balanced.

Video or Slideshow:

■ There is a coordination of images, narrative, and audio.
■ The presentation successfully uses sequencing, timing, and transitions between scenes to convey
the message.
■ There is an effective use of facts, quotes, and interviews.
■ There is a creative integration of original and researched images.
■ The main idea is clearly presented with details and evidence to support it.
■ All links are accurate and well referenced.
■ MLA citations are used for all resources.
■ There is evidence of solid planning in the form of graphic organizers.
■ The use of media is appropriate and well balanced.

Google Maps:

■ At least 5 points of interest are indicated on the map.
■ All text follows acceptable conventions for spelling, punctuation, and grammar
■ There is an effective use of facts, quotes, and interviews.
■ At least three hyperlinks are included.
■ There is a creative integration of original and researched images.
■ The main idea is clearly presented with details and evidence to support it.
■ All links are accurate and well referenced.
■ A separate list of resources must be submitted utilizing MLA format.
■ The use of media is appropriate and well balanced







Appendix A


Research Results


Use this page to help you organize your thoughts before posting research results to the class wiki.
Topic or research question:













Resource used*:

Title(s) :...............................................................................................................................
Authors: ..................................................................................................................................
Publisher: ................................................................................................................................
Date of publication: .................................................................................................................
Print or Electronic? .................................................................................................................
Date viewed: ..........................................................................................................................

All citations must be reported in MLA format on the wiki page.
*Remember that websites, databases, magazines and newspapers must all include at least two titles.


Research results:
















































Appendix B
Storyboard


For a copy of the storyboard form see this link: http://tinyurl.com/7k3vqrs










Appendix C
Group Evaluation

Name: ..............................................................................

Date: ...................................................................................................

Evaluate your team’s performance and product below. If you answer “Always” give a specific example of how your group accomplished this goal. If your answer was “Sometimes” or “Never” write a suggestion for how this could be improved in the next group project.

1. Every member of our team clearly understood their role and responsibilities.

...........................................Always........................Sometimes..................Never......................................................













2. The team stayed focused on the task.

............................................Always........................Sometimes..................Never.....................................................













3. The individual team members collaborated and contributed to the end product.

...........................................Always........................Sometimes..................Never......................................................













4. What were your team’s strengths?














5. What were your team’s weaknesses?

















Appendix D
Self Evaluation

Name:
Date:

Use the following scale for this evaluation

.................................1...................................2.....................................3......................................... 4...................

................................Not...........................Somewhat.......................Important...............................Very
............................important.......................important................................................................ important

1. Before you take up a cause you should research the topic to better understand the opposing viewpoints.

...................................1......................2.......................3.........................4..............................................................

Explain your answer:













2. Choosing the correct media format will impact how your message is received.

...................................1......................2.......................3.........................4..............................................................


Explain your answer:













3. What did you learn about multimedia presentations while working on this project?













4. What would you do differently next time?













5. What was your most significant contribution to this project?













6. What did you learn about civic responsibility while working on this project?




















References


Ash, K. (2012, March 1). Students create apps to help communities - Digital education - Education week. Education Week: Blogs.
Retrieved June 4, 2012, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2012/03/students_learn_to_create_apps.html

Billig, S. H. (2000). Research on K-12 School-Based Service-Learning The Evidence Builds. Phi Delta Kappan, 1, 658-664. Retrieved
June 2, 2012, from http://denverzoo.org/downloads/CLP_Billig_article.pdf

Bruder, P. (2012, April). Scan me. QR codes are a simple way to say more. NJEA Review, 1, 30-31.

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M. & Robison, A. J. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education
for the 21st century. An occasional paper on digital media and learning. Chicago, Ill.: TheMacArthur Foundation.
http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF

Ivers, K. S., & Barron, A. E. (2010). Multimedia projects in education: designing, producing, and assessing (4th ed.). Santa Barbara,
Calif.: Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO.

Shamburg, C. (2008). English language arts units for grades 9-12. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education

Wing L.A. (2012, April 11). Activating Citizens: Sixth-Grade Capstone Projects | Expeditionary Learning. Expeditionary Learning |
Engaging Students, Transforming Schools. Retrieved June 2, 2012, from http://elschools.org/best-practices/activating-citizens-sixth-
grade-capstone-projects


APA formatting by BibMe.org.