Giving Back for All Ages

  Since I literally have the most creative, brightest, college students in the world, I've asked them to join Upcycled Education and blog with me.  Please welcome, student blogger:  Kim.  You might remember her from her maiden post here.

About Kim:
I am a parent, educator-in-training, COG Kids Contributor, recycler of almost everything, self-proclaimed artist, craver of all things hot, really awful singer, & very loyal friend.  I'd like to add, Kim is an amazing student. A-MA-ZING.

Kim, take it away...

Thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr. made me think about this….

As a teacher-in-training, I believe creating a sense of community in the classroom is important.  But, what about getting our students to think about their actual community, and getting them involved in giving back? I believe that giving back to our community through volunteering time, donating goods, and cooperative collaboration creates not only better, stronger communities, but better citizens of our planet. 

Further, I believe that everyone, no matter their age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, has the capacity to make meaningful contributions to the community.  That being said, here are a few ways to get your students psyched about making their community a better place to live:
  • Keep a shredder in your classroom and shred all of your class’s scrap paper.  Local animal shelters and rescues use shredded paper (no staples please!) for bedding.  Drop off the bags monthly “in honor of” whichever students have a birthday that month.
  • Make stuff, sell it, and use the money for more fun stuff!  For example, I plan on teaching science.  Perhaps, in one of my environmental lessons, I can incorporate rain and the use of rain barrels to conserve and repurpose water.  Then, my students and I can build a handful of rain barrels (maybe with donated or reclaimed supplies) and either donate the rain barrels or sell them.  We can use the money to fund more awesome science lessons and projects. 
  • Create a community garden.   Start the seeds and nurture them in class, then they can be transplanted.  Even if you do not have a plot of land for a garden, container gardening is really convenient.  Encourage any student who wants to take any seedlings home to do so and to document the plant in its new environment.  OR donate the small plants to a local organization or community garden.
  • Keep your students informed of ways that they can volunteer in their community.  For example, I am a contributing member of Chesapeake Outdoor Group for Kids (COG Kids).  In addition to lots of fun events, we also host a few volunteer days throughout the year, such as bagged lunch assemblies for a local shelter, our Earth Day weeding and gardening at a local non-profit, and a beach clean up at a local park. 
  • Check your local and state volunteer networks to find creative ideas.  In Maryland, this is a great one here; most states have something similar.
Kim, thank you for reminding us that people of any age can give back.  Upcyclists, how do you plan to "give back" for 2012?  Leave your ideas and comments below.
As always, Kim, you are talented and bright.  I can't wait for you to have your own classroom of students!