What Can I do to Make a Difference?
Students each selected a social issue to research and answered the following questions:
What is the problem?
Why is it a problem?
What is being done to help?
What can I do to help?
Why Social Issues?
In the past, students could choose a topic of their choice, which always seemed to be an animal or sport star. The topics had no backbone, and the students weren’t invested in the process, in fact, their only reason for researching was to gather facts so that they could write the mandatory paper. Our goal was for students to use critical thinking and inquiry skills while learning the research process that needed to be taught in 6th grade.
Students spent time brainstorming social issues that affect our community and world with classmates. They also spent time listening to various representatives speak about local charities. The speakers shared stories and pictures and left students wanting to do more.
Choosing the Topic.
After spending weeks listening to different presenters it didn’t take long for students to realize which platforms and organizations they wanted to learn more about, and more importantly, wanted to HELP!
Research and Writing the Paper.
Students individually researched and took notes using Noodletools to write a paper, which was properly cited using a Googledocs. And just in case you are wondering, yes, the entire research project was done totally paperless!
Research Leads to Persuasion.
The students spent weeks researching and learning about their causes, and naturally they became quite passionate about them...they wanted to help. So, the next logical step seemed to be to turn what they had learned, through their research, into a piece of writing that would educate, as well as persuade, others to Make a Difference.
Many students wrote to local radio and television stations to ask for the opportunity to advertise the Make a Difference Fair. Some students wrote to charities and organizations to invite them to speak to the 6A students about their mission and other students wrote to their families and friends to encourage them to come to the event and to Make a Difference!
The persuasive letters must have worked because students were not invited to speak on one show, they were invited to speak on five! Groups of students shared about the Make a Difference Fair on Channel 8 News, Channel 10/11 News, KFRX Radio Station, B107 Radio Station, KFOR Radio station. The Lincoln Journal Star also shared a piece about the Make a Difference fair in the paper.
Many persuasive papers have been written by students over the years, but few have been as passionate as the persuasive papers written to encourage others to, “Make a Difference.”
Educate the public
The Make a Difference Fair.
Presentation and speaking skills had to be taught prior to the big event. To prepare for the actual fair, students practiced with each other how to shake hands, use eye contact and speak loudly and clearly...and the practice seemed to help calm the butterflies many of the anxious students were experiencing!
On the night of the fair, Hundreds of family members, friends and neighbors congregated in the Scott Multi-Purpose room to learn how to make a difference in the community. With Nickellback’s, If Everyone Cared, playing in the background, professionally dressed students shared the information they had learned with expertise and enthusiasm. Parents commented over and over on how knowledgeable the students were on their topics and how persuasive they were when encouraging others to step up and “Make a Difference.”
Fair goer after fair goer stopped at the donation table to offer support to the students. The hour and a half long event was a huge success and it was hard to bring the evening to an close.
Students couldn't wait to find out the the total amount raised for the charities. Right after the students left the fair, to go home for the night, email after email came in wondering what we had collected. The following day the teachers surprised the students with the total amount at a pod meeting. A huge roar emerged from the crowd when they learned that they had raised over $7,000! UNBELIEVABLE!