Monday, June 1, 2015

Serve + Create

I've posted a lot about our AP Calculus AB final project (Serve + Create) on the One Good Thing Blog; it was a two-part project in which students were asked to (1) serve someone else and (2) create something they enjoyed making.  I haven't explicitly written what I gave the kids or where this idea came from; hence, some details about the project:

I gave the students four class days (there was also a three-day weekend in between) to work on whatever they wanted.  I told them that some of them would want to use this time for their final project, but most of them would probably want to work mostly out of class.  So, I didn't feel too bad giving a few "free days."  Several did work on their art project and several went to serve a teacher during these four days.  Others relaxed and played math games and worked entirely on the project on their own time.

This idea stemmed from an interview I listened to with Glennon Doyle Melton (here).  In the interview, she was asked how she deals with all the hardships she sees and reads about on a daily basis.  How do we get ourselves out of our own misery?  She said she always comes back to two things:  art and service.

I couldn't agree more with Melton's advice.  I had never realized that art and service were two ways I dealt with change and loss, too.  Thus, this interview was a catalyst to a project I've been mulling over for quite some time...

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UHS AP Calculus AB Final Project



You’re almost done!  I recognize this can be a stressful and bittersweet time for both juniors and seniors alike.  While I hope you’ve learned lots of calculus throughout the year, there are things that are more important than mathematics:  one of those being—How do you cope with change?  There are two ingredients I want you to practice before you leave our class—service and art.  When life gets chaotic, one of the best things you can do is remember that there are others in this world who are suffering, and do something to help them.  Furthermore, creating something through an art medium is a great way to express yourself, especially in the moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  As a way to encourage you to practice both the art of service and creativity, I've made this our final project for the year (worth 25 points in the test category).

SERVE:  Think of something you can do that would positively impact someone else’s life in a significant way.  Spend no more than $20/person.  You may work in groups or as individuals. 

CREATE:  Create a piece of art that you’re proud of.  This is not limited to drawing or painting:  think outside the box!  Express yourself in a way that is unique to you.  Please work individually on this.

On Thursday, May 28, you will be asked to share both your projects with the class.  I do not want to stifle you in any way, so grading will be based on completion:  do the project and you’ll get full credit.

I'm so proud of all your work this year.  It’s been an honor to be your teacher!





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I've never done anything like this, but the results were absolutely wonderful.  As I posted on the One Good Thing blog, here are some of the things the kids shared on Thursday.  They...


  • Helped teachers in elementary and middle schools
  • Played with and loved on elementary children
  • Made cookies, brownies, spring rolls (not even kidding) for the class
  • Sang a song for our class
  • Painted a picture only using spray paint
  • Made calligraphy signs
  • Passed out cards to fellow students with hand-written positive sayings and Hershey Kisses on them
  • Passed out burgers to homeless
  • Made origami
  • Wrote poems
  • Drew pictures
  • Mowed lawns
  • Visited nursing homes
  • Bought flowers for their moms
  • Threw a party for their families
  • Helped renovate a run-down church
  • Made a “Countdown to the 2016 AP Calculus Exam” for their calculus teacher (<3)
  • Made canvas art for their dorm rooms
  • Made canvas art for their teacher
  • Donated money to a student from El Salvador looking to pursue higher education
  • Made French food
  • Made a wreath for their room
  • Made food and cards for their teachers
  • Made shirts for their teammates
  • Made jewelry charms for their friends
  • Volunteered time to help coach the pom squad
  • Worked on a car for free
  • Made a “College Survival Kit” for friends
  • Made a poster to celebrate twelve years of friendship
  • Posted slips around school with motivation sayings for students to take
  • Made a Father’s Day platter
  • Bought reading glasses to accompany a family member going on a missions trip
  • Played the recorder for the class
  • Made paintings for a newly-married family member
  • Gave flowers to teachers
  • Helped at a cultural fair
  • Taught the class a hip-hop dance (this was a dream come true for me…so fun!!)

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