District: Lowell Area Schools Building: Lowell High School
Teacher(s): Cyndi Gibson
Main Contact: Cyndi Gibson Email:
Grade Level: 10th – 12th Subject(s): ELA
First Trimester:           Second Trimester:    x Third Trimester:   x
First Semester:           Second Semester:               All Year:

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Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

Students will improve reading, writing, and verbal communication skills in a unit entitled, “Survivors”. The teacher will prepare the basic framework of various types of “survivors’ including explorers/adventurers, soldiers/rescue personal, accident/illness victims, social/cultural injustice, and personal addiction/hardship utilizing books, movies, newspaper articles, museum exhibits, guest speakers, and personal journals. Character traits utilized and leadership skills demonstrated by survivors will be identified. Students will then identify group of community “survivors” to assist in a manner they identify.


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?

Every community has people (individuals and groups) who struggle, daily, to “survive”. They can be aided in the battles through community, personal, and financial support.

What service will you provide to address the need?

After researching different agencies in the community who help people “survive”, the students chose to work with Habitat for Humanity.


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?

The curriculum directly focuses on improving each student’s ability to read, write, and speak. Indirectly, the students also need to learn decision-making and leadership skills, and understand diversity, compassion, and acceptance.

What are the educational goals?

Through various assignments and exercises, students will show improvement in reading, writing, and presentation skills.

  • Individual journals and writing assignments
  • Reading comprehension checks
  • Power-point presentation (Each student will research and identify a new “survivor” example from each category.)

Curriculum Crafter Connections

Strand: 09-10 ELA: Writing
TLW: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences. (Gist: Range of Writing)


Additional State Standards and Benchmarks

List standards and benchmarks met by this project.

Strand: 09-10 ELA: Reading Literature

By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently. (Gist: Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity – Literature)

Strand: 09-10 ELA: Reading Informational Text
TLW: Demonstrate an integration of knowledge and ideas to understand the informational text selection. (Gist: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas – Informational Text)


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?

Students will record their thoughts and feelings during each class period in their “Survivor Journal”. At the end of the unit, students will write a formal paper on the topic: What I will remember about this experience 5+ years from now.


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)

As we explore survivors, both contemporary and historically, we will look at people with diverse backgrounds culturally, generationally, and with a variety of abilities and disabilities.


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 will identify specific service project after being exposed to existing community needs. Students will also research and present new examples of “survivors” in each category for their individual Power Point presentation. As a class, they will determine their “audience”. (i.e. elementary students, administrators, parents, etc…)



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

Who will you partner with for this project?

Habitat for Humanity West Michigan

How will students benefit from this partnership?

The students will learn about the work Habitat does for families in West Michigan. They will also learn about how families qualify for a Habitat home and the amount of work they will give back to another house that will be built.

Students will also learn how to plant a variety of flowers and bushes as well as learn about proper care of these plants.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

The Lowell students, under the direction of a retired Ag Science teacher, will plant the entire landscaping for the house. Students will also fill a dump truck with debris that has been left on the property.



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?

Student learning goals will be assessed through daily writing prompts. Student work will be graded based on ELA standards and expectations.

How will you assess your service goals?

The feedback we receive from the Habitat for Humanity as well as the students’ own reflections in their journals will assess the service we provide.



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

How will you prepare students for this experience?

Read articles, biographies/autobiographies, and other expository texts focusing on examples of “survivors” from each category.

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

Read or watch an article or story daily about a historical or contemporary survivor and use this to prompt the daily writing assignment.

Read biography “At the Edge” by Dennis N.T. Perkins (Shackleton’s experience and leadership skills)

Experience IMAX movie, “Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure”

Visit Van Andel Museum (Shackleton’s Adventure and Anishnawbe exhibits)

Research and report on various community agencies that help those who are struggling

Provide a service to the agency chosen by the class