Hungry for change : students as community contributors
Community development is an absolutely essential component of education. Students must, through personal explorations, experiments, and discussions, determine how their families, schools, and local communities have shaped them and how they have shaped these communities. Student learning must be grounded in authentic experiences to create engagement, interest, and lifelong understanding. One of the best ways to develop community development through authentic experiences is through service learning, which is "a teaching and learning method which fosters civic responsibility and links classroom learning and applied learning in communities." I have developed a unit plan for a ninth grade Honors Language Arts course, which details a seven-week exploration into the essential question, "How does my community shape me, and how do I shape my community?" Students will begin by reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie to explore ways in which one's community shapes his or her personality, motives, and future endeavors. They will next examine an issue important to their local community, hunger, through the use of multiple nonfiction texts, videos, and a fieldtrip to Second Harvest Food Bank. Finally, the unit will culminate in the students' • organizing, planning, orchestrating, and completing a poetry slam designed to combine efforts from students, parents, administration, and community members to raise monetary donations for Second Harvest Food Bank in Muncie, Indiana.