Service-Learning Project Brings Books and Learning

A pair of social service organizations recently received a special delivery from Lower School classrooms in the form of donated books with QR codes that linked to additional resources for enhanced learning, also known as “enhanced-books.”
The project had its origins in conversations among members of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee, which decided this year’s activities to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. would be based on his quote: “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” Students in JK through 12th grade would engage in some kind of service learning. Lower School DEIB Support Coordinators Denise David, Valetina Correa and Heidi Byrnes-Cloet came up with the idea to partner with local organizations serving children in the Chicago area. The project they designed was to help local social service organizations Erie Neighborhood House and Chicago Commons by donating copies of their favorite children’s books and working collaboratively to create online resources to accompany the books.

In the months that followed, Lower School teachers worked with their classes to select books to donate and consider how they might work together to enhance the text with additional resources.

Selected stories included Susie Jaramillo’s Little Chickens, Susan Middleton Elya’s Rubia and the Three Osos, Jimmie Allen’s My Voice is a Trumpet, Jessica Love’s Julián Is a Mermaid, Juan Felipe Herrera’s The Upside Down Boy and Juana Martinez-Neal’s Alma and How She Got Her Name, to list a few.

Students then worked collaboratively to create online resources to enhance their selected stories, including a Spanish reading of the book, animated storyboards, craft projects related to the text, acrostic poems and more.

Prior to delivering the books to Erie Neighborhood House and Chicago Commons, Lower School Literacy Specialist Heidi Byrnes-Cloet worked with Lower and Intermediate School Math Specialist Denise David to pair each of these titles with a note from the classroom, which included a QR code link to the enhanced resources students had developed in collaboration with their teachers, sealed in a gift bag with a ribbon.

Byrnes-Cloet said, “It was wonderful to see the variety of creative ideas students and teachers came up with together. The books were truly appreciated by the children who received them and gave our students a meaningful service-learning experience.”

Byrnes-Cloet, Correa and David personally delivered these enhanced books to their contacts at each organization, who will distribute copies to the children and families they serve.

Click here to view this service-learning project and the enhanced resources students created.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.