Speaking for Mother Nature

Student(s): Steven Neal
Date: April 9th, 2013 Grade Level(s): 10
Subject: Social Studies class at East Lansing Multicultural High School
Instructor: Carla Stone Email: stoneshores@comcast.net
Teaching Assistant: Bella Tirtowalujo Email: tirtowal@msu.edu

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Name of Project: “Speaking for Mother Nature”


Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

Tenth grade students in their Social Studies course at East Lansing Multicultural High School will be studying how natural resources have become regulated (both through governmental and non-governmental organizations) and the policies that have been created by the United States and Michigan governments. Students will be investigating how public policy interacts with environmental stewardship on a local level. We will be contacting members of the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) to learn more about current environmental legislation. Furthermore, we will be advocating for environmental justice and better regulation in the Greater Lansing Area.


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?

The community need that we are addressing with the service learning project is the need for a more information being made readily available for East Lansing and Lansing residents on matters of environmental policy and conservation efforts. We determined this need through an analysis of news articles and stories from local residents about trouble accessing and understanding laws and policies going through legislation in the state and federal legislatures

What service will you provide to address the need?

Each tenth grade Social Studies class at East Lansing Multicultural High School will be providing advocacy for the Michigan Environmental Council by educating several communities about current environmental legislation. Furthermore, students will attempt to encourage local residents to become involved in the legislative process by writing letters and emails to their local representative.


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?

“Speaking for Mother Nature” is a service learning project that allows students to see the Social Studies curricular standards for the State of Michigan being put into action. They will be able to develop their research abilities while learning the history behind the distribution and regulation of natural resources in the United States. The students will be expected to locate and analyze multiple primary source documents on environmental policy and be able to adequately voice these opinions into writing and speech. Furthermore, while advocating for a more informed Greater Lansing population on environmental policy, students will be constructing informational pamphlets and leading a town meeting to convey the information behind the policies. The students’ knowledge about how policies are created will be enriched, and they will develop meaningful analytical and communicative skills throughout the project.

What are the educational goals?

The educational goals of “Speaking for Mother Nature” are to meet the state mandated standards while simultaneously developing the students’ abilities to become informed through proper research, inform others in an appropriate and meaningful way, and advocate for positive social-environmental change. Throughout the service learning project, the students will be challenged to see the point of view of various environmentalists and interest groups as well as the other classmates’ opinions. Furthermore, the most important educational goal is to give students the opportunity to see how their classroom learning can be applied to real-world applications such as lobbying for change in environmental policy.


State Standards and Benchmarks
List standards and benchmarks met by this project.

Social Studies Standards for the State of Michigan
• CG2 Resources (change in spatial distribution and use of natural resources; social, political, economic, and environmental consequences of the development, distribution, and use of natural resources; major changes in networks for the production, distribution, and consumption of natural resources including growth of multinational corporations, and governmental and non-governmental organizations)
• P1.2 Analyze point of view, context, and bias to interpret primary and secondary source documents
• P1.4 Communicate clearly and coherently in writing, speaking, and visually expressing ideas pertaining to social science topics, acknowledging audience and purpose
• P2.4 Use multiple perspectives and resources to identify and analyze issues appropriate to the social studies discipline being studied
• P4.3 Plan and conduct activities intended to advance views on matters of public policy, report the results, and evaluate effectiveness
• C.3.5 Explain how political parties, interest groups, the media, and individuals can influence and determine the public agenda


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?

In order to get an accurate representation of how students are interpreting the service learning project, there will be several reflection activities throughout the entire project. Students will be asked several questions at the beginning of the project to gauge the students’ understanding of the project and their place in it (i.e. Does everybody have a voice in shaping public policy? What role do you see yourself playing in the service learning project?). During the course of the project, each class will create a scrapbook of their efforts and what they have accomplished. The scrapbook will include the students’ initial expectations of the project, photographs, informational documents students have researched or that have been given by the Michigan Environmental Council representative, and the final advocacy documents they create. The students will have several class discussions about the advocacy work and their efforts to inform the population of the Greater Lansing area. Finally, each class will create a presentation to share with the rest of East Lansing Multicultural High School to organize their thoughts and have additional reflection.


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 students will be exploring a variety of political and environmental perspectives as well as seeing differences of opinion between generations. Through their history lessons and research conducted for the service learning project, students will see the various opinions of public policy makers in our government. They will analyze the differences of each political party’s opinion and be able to explain them to the rest of the class. Furthermore, at the town meeting that the students will be holding, they will get to understand and investigate different generations’ perspectives on environmental stewardship and public policy.


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?

The students will gain ownership of “Speaking for Mother Nature” by developing roles in the project that fit their specific skills sets. During the planning phase, students can divide into teams to conduct the research on public policy, environmental stewardship, and how to make efficient speeches and pamphlets for the meeting. They can then select which avenue of the project best fits their skill set. For example, shier students may not be comfortable giving a speech at the town meeting, but they have experience creating pamphlets on the computer. Furthermore, if any students are unsure of what they want to do for the project, they can rotate throughout the groups to build multiple skills. During the implementation phase, the project is centered on the students; they are running the town meeting, informing the people who come, and handing out the pamphlets that they developed. The evaluation of the service learning project will have direct input from the students. For each Social Studies class, the students and I will have a group discussion about the goals of the project and whether they were met, the responses from the attendees of the town meeting, and the overall effectiveness of the project. Youth voice is a prominent aspect of this service learning project; they have many opportunities to voice their opinion and construct the project.



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

Who will you partner with for this project?

We will partner with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) to receive information about environmental policies in Michigan and what citizens can do to help. The phone number for the Michigan Environmental Council is (517) 487-9539.

How will students benefit from this partnership?

The students will benefit from the partnership with the Michigan Environmental Council because they will be able to access a significant source of information on natural resources and how they are regulated within the context of the United States government. They will be able to see how the information that they are learning in their Social Studies class can be utilized to make a significant change in the community. Furthermore, it encourages healthy practice of their civil rights as American citizens to free speech, assembly, and having an active part in their government.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

The Michigan Environmental Council will benefit from the collaboration with the East Lansing Multicultural High School because they will receive more publicity about their efforts and potentially get more funds to help lobby for changes to current environmental policies in the state of Michigan. The organization can only benefit from a more informed populous in the Great Lansing Area; many citizens can take action to help influence the decisions made by the Michigan legislature.



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 assessment of the student’s learning goals can be accomplished through a series of questions at the beginning, middle, and end of the service learning project. At the beginning of the project, I intend to keep a classroom list of the learning goals that we, as a class, developed. We can spend class time going through each goal and discussing how we accomplished or did not accomplish each one. The questions that I ask throughout the project can be graphed to show progress over time. By asking the questions, the classes will have time to reflect on their experiences and provide critical feedback about the connections between the classroom learning and the service learning experience.

How will you assess your service goals?

The service goals that are developed by the students and our contact from the Michigan Environmental Council can be assessed through an informal survey from the audience at the town meeting. They can answer questions about how much they learned from the students, how effective the information was relayed, and how efficiently the meeting was conducted. Furthermore, we will have a post-service learning project discussion in each class as to how effective the project was as a whole. After the town meeting, we can ask the Michigan Environmental Council if their website has received increased attendance as well as if there are any citizens donating or volunteering to help. The multiple forms of feedback that I receive from the students, town meeting attendants, and the Michigan Environmental Council will allow me to adjust the project for future classes.



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

How will you prepare students for this experience?

I will prepare the students for the experience of the service learning project by explaining the entire project in detail. The students need to know what is expected from them in terms of the academic requirements and from the Michigan Environmental Council. The parents will receive and in-depth explanation of the project, its purpose, and the overall connection to their children’s education. The organization will want to be represented accurately in their work and beliefs; students need to make sure that the information they relay in the town meeting is truthful and unembellished. Furthermore, I intend to prepare students for the rigors of the town meeting by making them attend one during a field trip or independently. The service learning project itself will take a few months to plan, coordinate, and implement, so the project will need to be conducted mid-way through the academic school year. This gives adequate time to conduct the service learning project even if there are disturbances to the expected timeframes.

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

There are several possible activities that students can do in conjunction with the “Speaking for Mother Nature” service learning project. Firstly, students can research the numerous legislative acts that the United States government has taken to help protect and preserve the environment; furthermore, they can look up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their current initiatives at the moment. Secondly, students will be able discover proper town meeting etiquette and experience a town meeting in person. Thirdly, each student will voice their opinion on the matter of environmental stewardship and back up their opinions with facts from published documents in a class-wide debate. The debate will allow them to interpret and appreciate an issue from more than one perspective. Finally, the topic of environmental stewardship is an international concern; therefore, students can research environmental action being taken in other places around the globe through the Internet or by interviewing others via email, phone, or Skype.



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?

“Speaking for Mother Nature” is a service learning project that addresses multiple forms of sustainability. The project teaches students how protecting the environment is a paramount concern for many citizens in the United States; in order to preserve our environment, students and citizens can advocate for better environmental awareness and knowledge. The project also teaches students that people have the ability to be prominent figures in social change. Throughout the service learning project, students will experience how their work can help inform groups of people, shed light on current issues, and influence public policy creation. The project will allow students to become more environmentally conscious and knowledgeable about how they can have a voice in their government’s decisions.