Books to Benefit

Student(s): Siobhan McKinney, Allie Carpenter, Lauryn Muscio, Sarah Miller, Kim Holzknecht
Mentor Teacher: Lisa Holzknecht, Troy Public Schools
Grade Level: 4 Subjects: Math, ELA, Social Studies
MSU Instructor: Kim Keglovitz Email:

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Literacy/March Reading Month, Homelessness.

Type of Service

Direct Service

Point of Entry

This project is primarily designed to teach students the importance of literacy especially for children who do not have access to books outside of the school setting. Encouraging charity in students to benefit their community members is at the base of this service learning project. Fourth grade level Mathematics, Language Arts, and Social Studies will all be intergrated into the “Books to Benefit” lesson plans.

Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

“Books to Benefit” is a project designed to give students and their school peers a medium to donate new and used children’s books to a local homeless shelter. Students will plan almost every aspect of this project– from when book collection will be, where it will be, collection goals and goal tracking, and personal reflection.

Rationale & Goal

State the goal of your SL project.

This service learning project is created to reinforce charity and community building as well as give responsibility to the students in the form of creation of their class project and students’ accountability in terms of their individual jobs.


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?

For March is Reading Month, providing a homeless shelter with books seemed like the perfect service activity. For a local homeless shelter, books are not abundant and we want those who are less fortunate than us to be provided with the same opportunities and equal access to books. By providing a variety of books including different reading and learning levels of reading, we can help give everyone the opportunity to pick up a book. As a class we will help spread learning and enjoyment through reading!

What service will you provide to address the need?

The service we will provide will be delivering books of all reading and grade levels to a local homeless shelter to help everyone get involved on reading.


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 is related to the curriculum because it meets many of the standards (for fourth grade, year 2012) in a creative and engaging way. Learning through service and the various creative activities involved in the service project provides a positive learning atmosphere that is encouraging and fun for students.

What are the educational goals?

The educational goals specific to the Common Core Curriculum standards vary in the subjects of math, language arts, and social studies. Besides these specific goals, a service project educates the students on the world around them and positive values. These are positive values such as doing things for others for nothing in return, kindness, and giving and sharing. They are educated in building up group support for a cause, realizing what goes on outside of their home-life and on the vast variety of economic situations that people live through.


Curriculum Crafter Connections

Strand: 04SS: (Public Discourse, Decision Making, and Citizen Involvement
TLW: Identify a public policy issue in the U.S., analyze information to solve it, and present the solution to inform others. (Gist: Solving Public Problems)

Strand: 04 ELA: (Speaking and Listening)
TLW: Build comprehension through collaborative conversations about grade 4 topics and texts.  (Gist: Comprehension and Collaboration)\


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 go through several different processes of reflection throughout the project. To track progress and accomplishments, students will complete a progress graph, which will allow them to assess and reflect on their goals. Throughout the duration of the project, students will keep an individual reflection journal (non-traditional: will include many different types of entries – writings, photos, drawings, documents, etc.) as well as compiling a class scrapbook to commemorate the project and share the experience with others (made up of different artifacts from each student.) Students will frequently discuss differences and similarities between their own lives and the lives of those who the project is aimed at helping, discussing what more could be done to help. Finally, as a form of reflection, students will be creating a presentation to be viewed school-wide, which will help to organize and reinforce reflective thoughts.


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)

Socio-economical – Students will address differences (and similarities) between social classes and how homelessness can affect one’s life, as well as what students can do about it now. This will be done through the discussion of things students have done in the past to help others, talking about problems and issues that need to be fixed, researching what is being done to fix those problems and then developing and implementing an action plan. Students will begin to understand others’ perspectives through activities such as writing narratives from the point of view of a character that lives in a homeless shelter.


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 gain ownership of the project by all having equal opportunities to get involved both through the school book drive and the donating portion of the project. With every child equally participating and helping out, every student can gain a feeling of ownership and pride in his/her own way. This project involves many aspects for the students to experience, from researching to planning to donating; the students will experience it all. Also through this project, we hope that all students will find an aspect of Service Learning that they are passionate about, which will help students be more involved in such projects in the future and help them engage in more experiences similar to this classroom project.



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

Who will you partner with for this project?

For this project, we will partner with other classrooms in our school. We will communicate with the other classrooms in order to gain their participation in the book drive. Also, we will partner with a local shelter. They will be the recipient of the books we will collect.

How will students benefit from this partnership?

For the school aspect of the project, the students will learn organizational and planning skills from coordinating the drive with the other classes. They will also learn communication skills as well. By working with the shelter, the students will learn how to work with and help out people less fortunate than themselves. Learning to help those in need in the community is a fantastic life lesson.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

The kids and adults at the shelter will gain a lot of benefits. They will be able to get many books to read and enjoy. This enables them to further their own reading skills and development, which they may not been able to do on their own time without this drive.



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?

The student’s learning goals can be assessed by doing a follow up assignment to our service learning project. This assignment could ask questions about what the student learned or gained from the service learning experience. Ask the children if they would want to do something like this again, and what they would do different/the same next time around.

How will you assess your service goals?

The service goals can be assessed based on if we were or were not successful in what we accomplished by the end of the project. In our case, if books are delivered to our charity and the children had a constructive and fun learning experience, then our goals were achieved.



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

How will you prepare students for this experience?

The best way to prepare students for a service learning experience is to first and foremost explain what service learning is. Once they understand what service learning is, then allow the students to come up with their own service learning ideas. The next step is to pick an idea and set a plan of action for how the plan is going to play out. After that, let the service learning project take place! Follow up the project with an overview and reflection.

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

Some sample possible activities that students might do as a part of this project is to get in groups and discuss what they think service learning is. They could also gather into “teams” and make a service learning project idea and plan. The children can also individually make posters and flyers to put around the school to inform their peers, teachers, and parents about the project. The students will collect books throughout a chosen week. While doing all of this, Common Core Standards will be incorporated into the project to further the students’ learning.



The three arms of sustainability are environmental stewardship, economic growth, and social progress. Think planet, profit, and people.

Describe how your project addresses the issue of sustainability?

• Environmental stewardship (planet)- Our service learning project requires the recycling of books which is beneficial for the environment because it gives someone else new reading material without having to buy a new book. This uses less paper, ink, and other resources.
• Economic growth (profit)- There does not need to be extra money spent to produce paper, ink, and other resources when people recycle books.
• Social progress (people)- There are adults/children that cannot afford to buy their own books to read. By having our students recycle their gently used books, they are helping people that are in need and are also helping educate people who can’t afford books of their own.