Alberta SPCA ‘Class Action’ projects to help animals are the perfect opportunity to engage your students in service learning. Service learning projects address curricular outcomes while providing an opportunity to make a positive impact in the community. These projects help students build skills such as goal setting and critical thinking, and can help improve self-esteem as students learn the value of working together to help others. Teachers also benefit from these projects by collaborating with their students by working towards a common goal, building collegiality with other staff, and fostering a sense of school pride. The relationship between students, the school and the community strengthens from service learning projects and they help promote a positive image of young people in the community, leading to stronger support for youth and schools.
We could go on about how valuable we think service learning projects are, but we thought it would be more effective to have a teacher describe her firsthand experience with one of these projects.
Lesley Margetak is a Grade 2 Teacher in Southern Alberta who has done creative ‘Class Action’ projects with her students every year for the past three years. Lesley was kind enough to answer a few questions in hopes of inspiring other teachers engage their students in service learning!
Below is a brief interview we did with Leslie.
Question 1: Describe the service learning project you and your students did.
This is the third year we (three Grade 2 classes) have hosted a “Cupcakes to the Rescue” event in our K-3 school situated in our Crowsnest Pass mountain community. We ask the grade two parents/grandparents (any connection will do) to volunteer as the bakers (or buyers if they choose) and supply some cupcakes! Some people get amazingly creative! We advertise ahead that we will be collecting ‘silver collection’ for our local SPCA so hopefully all the classes are aware of why they receive a cupcake. We make sure we have enough then pass them out to all students! We always find we get more support for our SPCA programs than many others. Our school of 215 students usually contributes approximately $300.00 to the local SPCA from this campaign. At a later date, the SPCA representative will come to the school and bring a favorite animal resident, explain the story and a little bit about our SPCA shelter and pick up the ‘dogbone’ shaped cheque!
Question 2: What made you decided to do a service learning project with your students?
I got interested and excited about the Alberta SPCA programs when I went to a Calgary Teachers’ Convention session several years ago about the ‘AnimalTales’ book lending program that they had. I loved the session and used the AnimalTales grade two package and then was hooked on the [everylivingthing.ca] and resources! I loved the poster with the quote from a famous person, the kindness map, student poster pizza contest, all the links, and especially the cross-curricular lesson plan links to each book! Probably, the Kindness map and the Jane Goodall or Albert Einstein quote inspired me to start!!
Question 3: How did you and your students decide on ‘Cupcakes to the Rescue’?
It was from a link on the everylivingthing website that talked about the National Cupcake Day and how to host an event. After talking to the National organization we found out that the shelters could only be involved if they were registered with them and ours was not. We decided to host a modified version of our own for our own SPCA. The previous two years we had hosted a “Grade 2 Authors’ Day” where our students chose one of the stories they had written and read it ‘coffee-house’ style for the audience. The entrance fee was an item for the SPCA – pet food, pet toys, etc…
Question 4: What was the result of the service learning project? What do you think your students got out of it?
Students love helping animals as do the families – and, of course, everyone loves cupcakes so…everyone gets very excited!! We love the theme of ‘building compassion in children’ and truly believe the “AnimalTales” program and the service project do just that! Everyone feels GOOD about the event and looks forward to it now as a tradition! The grade 2 students make posters and write their own slogans! They learn why our local pet shelter is needed. They meet the people who run the facility and hear the stories (happy and sad) of some of the residents! We try and instill a sense of responsibility that the project is one way we take care of our community (social studies, health, science and math curriculum-based Learning Outcome)!!
Question 5: Would you do another service learning project in the future?
I will always do a project if I am able as kids and animals are natural partners and make all of our lives happier! It is one of the highlights of the year!
Question 6: Do you have any tips to give to teachers who are thinking about doing a service learning project for the first time?
First…Check out the everylivingthing website and all the wonderful information and programs available through there! Lots of ideas that other places have done!
Maybe then talk to your local shelter to find out what they suggest and what kind of connections you can make for the students! Always wise to check with school administration regarding school or divisional policies about fundraising, animals in school, donations, etc.
If you need help getting started, check out our step-by-step guide for a successful project!
Let us know about your ‘Class Action’ project!! We like to recognize teachers and students who are making a difference. You will be added to our Kindness Map and a token of appreciation will be sent in the mail!