Cups on Loan

District: Lowell Area Schools Building: Lowell High School
Teacher(s): Susan Langford
Main Contact: Susan Langford Email:
Grade Level: Subject(s): Ceramics/Art
First Trimester:           Second Trimester:           Third Trimester:
First Semester:     X Second Semester:           All Year:

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Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

The Lowell High School Ceramics II students studied about groups of people, their cultures, and their art forms in which they were not familiar, people different from their own rural, United States communities. The knowledge from their research was applied to a ceramics arts problem and they created original ceramic drinking vessels that were presented and shared with school and community members. After the ceramic cup creation, the students loaned out their art work for 1-2 week periods. People in the high school and members of the community used the students’ cups, read about the student’s designs, and them returned the ceramic art pieces for others to experience.

Social exchange was the most important aspect of this project. The LHS students asked the borrowers to answer a brief survey about the experience, encouraged taking digital photographs of the cup in use, and posting comments on the class “Cups on Loan” blog site.


Effective Practice: MEANINGFUL SERVICE

Service learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

What community need will you address and how did you determine the need?

Our community does not have a lot of cultural diversity. We wanted students to think beyond our community, beyond skin color, and examine other cultures in a way that would be relevant and meaningful to the work they were about to create.

What service will you provide to address the need?

Sharing the cups and the research for the cups designs invited others to study the unique colors, forms, and decorations and to learn about the country’s cultures and traditions. Functional artwork, such as cups, uses senses other than just our eyes. Experiencing a functional piece of ceramic artwork involves feeling the texture of the piece in your hands, smelling the aroma of the drink in it, feeling the warmth or chill of the drink as it touches your lips or the taste as it touches your tongue.

In addition, sharing the cups increased the students’ sense of pride and excitement about their accomplishments. It increased the need and importance for students to learn about cultures, and it increased topic relevance to the students.


Effective Practice: LINK TO CURRICULUM

Service learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

How is this project related to your curriculum?

This project challenged student’s ceramic art building skills and problem solving skills, as each student was challenged to create a unique functional ceramic art piece which incorporated the research from the country and its art forms. In addition, students used technology to set up and maintain an internet blog site and they used their presentation skills as they presented their work to community members.

What are the educational goals?

For students to incorporate research of other cultures into a functional art piece they create.

Curriculum Crafter Connections

Strand: 11-12 ELA: Writing
TLW: Participate in shared research to build and present knowledge. (Gist: Research to Build and Present Knowledge)


Additional State Standards and Benchmarks

List standards and benchmarks met by this project.

Strand: 11-12 ELA: Speaking and Listening
TLW:  Add a visual or auditory presentation to help clarify the knowledge and ideas. (Gist: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas)


Effective Practice: REFLECTION

Service learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

What form(s) of reflection will you use with the students to help them identify what they have learned and accomplished?

Reflection occurred during the “big” moments of the project – when the cups first came out of the kiln, after the first large group presentation and loan. A final focus group discussion was conducted to gauge the students’ impressions of the project and its worthiness. This discussion was videotaped in order to capture each student’s reflection accurately.


Effective Practice: DIVERSITY

Service learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

What types of diverse perspectives and experiences will be explored as part of your project?

(i.e.: cultural, generational, abilities/disabilities, learning styles, etc)

The goal of this project was for students to learn about art forms and designs from other countries. As a part of their research they learned an array of interesting facts, traditions and art forms from the countries they studied. Activities during the project also provided some diverse opportunities as the students viewed drinking vessels from other countries during the project:

• A Japanese student studying in the US presented to the class the activities during a formal tea exchange. She brought a variety of cups and discussed the decorations and ceremonies of each.

• Students viewed artifacts and a Kava bowl – a traditional drinking vessel – from American Samoa.


Effective Practice: YOUTH VOICE

Service learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning experiences with guidance from adults.

How will students gain ownership of the project?

Students were actively involved with all parts of the project. They chose the culture/country to study. They brainstormed with whom to share the cups. They each presented in their own way. They each contributed to the creation and/or maintenance of the blog site.



Service learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

Who will you partner with for this project?

High School administrators, various Lowell businesses, and GFS Marketplace Corporate Office participated in the cup exchange portion of the project.

How will students benefit from this partnership?

The students benefited by getting feedback from the people who used the cups – from their first reactions during the presentation, browsing, and selecting a cup to use through their feedback on the blog site.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

The partners were able to benefit by learning about different cultures as well. Feedback posted on the blog spot indicated that most of them were interested enough to go on the internet and look up additional information about the countries, their cultures, and their art.



Service learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

How will you assess the student learning goals?

Students were observed and graded on their ceramic techniques, working in a timely manner and incorporating their research into the design.

How will you assess your service goals?

Students monitored and kept track of the work that was out in the community and the incoming messages and posts on the blog site to see at what affect the experience was having on the community participants.



Service learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

How will you prepare students for this experience?

• Presentation of drinking vessels from other countries.
• Demonstration of a different clay than students were used to using.
• Research on the various countries.
• Research on potential community partners.

What are some sample possible activities students might do as part of this project?

• Research on the various countries.
• Research on potential community partners.
• Create cups to reflect the art and culture of different countries
• Arrange for people in the community to use these cups
• Create and monitor blog site where community members can share experiences