Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pass it On

As Thanksgiving break comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the year so far and the things we are thankful for as a result. As teachers, we get to impact the lives of so many over the course of our careers. With that capacity comes the great responsibility to not only teach our content, but also pass on the power that our content has to bring people together and create positive change for others.

During the holiday season, there is a push for many organizations to come together and reach out to those in need. The Arts offer a great starting place for this. From organizing events like Empty Bowls to raise food and funds for your local food bank or participating in the Memory Project to help lift the spirits of orphans from other countries, the Arts have a great way of reaching out to others through service. When we make the choice to do this, we not only do we teach our students about the power of giving to others in need through events like the ones featured in this LiveBinder, but we also show the power the Arts have in bringing awareness to issues and focusing on solutions.

Service-learning projects give students evidence they can do something about things that concern them. By incorporating this type of activity in our curriculum, we empower students with the voice that goes beyond the frame of a piece of art, showing the real-world implications of what they are doing.

Here are a few ways others have incorporates service-learning activities into the classroom:

  • Carrie Jeruzal of Pentwater used the Empty Bowls concept for a CommuniTEA event to raise funds for a local charity. Instead of soup, the event focused on the Japanese tea ceremony and students created ceramic tea bowls to sell. 
  • Susan Chapman of Seaholm High School used the Memory Project in her classroom to connect her students with orphans through art.
  • The Illinois Art Education Association members created "Art to Go" packets for local Children's Hospitals. This allowed sick children to make art while away from school.
  • Byron Center West Middle School students created winter and holiday themed artwork for local senior-citizen assisted living center to be used as decoration for the residents.
If there is a community or service-learning project that you have had success with, please share your results. Imagine the possibilities that can result from the small gestures of kindness fostered through the opportunities while participating in the Arts. This addition to curriculum can enhance any program and create a shared sense of community within your classroom.


  1. Here in Ann Arbor at A2 Tech High we are currently making human-like bones out of clay for the One Million Bones Project.
    From their website: "One Million Bones is a collaborative art installation designed to recognize the millions of victims and survivors who have been killed or displaced by ongoing genocides and mass atrocities in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burma."
    Check out their
    The video is especially powerful.

  2. What a great project! I added it to the LiveBinder, too. Thanks for sharing.