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Character Education

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Digital Learning

Hurricane Harvey Relief: How Kids Can Help

In the devastating wake of Hurricane Harvey, as the rain continues and the flood waters in Texas continue to rise, so many of us are asking what we can do to help. There are many suggestions out there. Though we might want to dig in and help to rebuild and nurture, the honest answer for right now is money. Contributing dollars to the relief efforts is the surest way we have of making a difference. Teachers may have lost everything in the way of books, supplies, and furniture. Some very generous teacher-authors have suggested sending digital files to them. Of course, much farther down the road when schools are rebuilt and technology (even that of copy machines) is restored, that will probably be a welcome contribution. But for right now, helping = send money. I'm sure of it.

With school starting here in Michigan this week and next, I couldn't help thinking of how the kids in our classrooms might be able to help right now. There will be discussion and questions, and I'm sure that kids will also be looking to their teachers for suggestions on how to help. With the greatest and most immediate help being tied to money, I wondered how kids could raise some money in an authentic way to help other kids in the area facing hurricane devastation. Of course, they could ask their parents and grandparents for donations and even toss in their allowances. They might offer to do some chores. This will help, but won't really connect your students to the real world and current events unfolding in the news.

But what if? Here's a question we all must be asking ourselves often as we face those sweet faces in our classrooms. What if we could connect some PBL (Project Based Learning) to our efforts to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Harvey? What if we could take class time to develop these units without missing a beat in our attention to the standards we must meet?

Here's a link to my post about the PBL we used in my classroom for years to help families in our community with expenses around winter holiday time. The remainder of this post will suggest some ways that you might set up something similar in your room.

Getting started: Literature connections
For fourth through sixth graders, here are some literature connections tied to hurricanes. These are three that I would use with my fourth graders. I love to give kids a great story to hook their thoughts as they begin to brainstorm ways they can begin their own PBL experience. Searching your library or online bookstore will turn up lots of connected literature perfect for your own grade level and kids.

My idea for connecting PBL to aid for hurricane victims is simple enough. Get your kids involved in a project that then can be presented to the community in a way that will become a fundraiser. The fundraiser will bring in money authentically earned by your students that you can send together to relief efforts. 

If you are new to PBL, I thought these ideas from one of the PD trainings that I have taught on PBL might be helpful. If you are already familiar with PBL, I hope that some of the curricular connections might be helpful.

People will look at the current unprecedented natural disaster through their own individual lenses and will reach out to help in ways that make sense to them. That's human nature. Do what is in your heart and help in any way you can. This post is an attempt to give you a tool that you can use right now in your classroom, if a project based approach appeals to you.

Sending prayers for healing and hope to all in the path of Hurricane Harvey.