Serving and Learning From Those Who Have Served

  Big Picture
A shelter for homeless veterans leads students to learn how to become Good Citizens while combining service and civic education. Technology serves as a source to gather and analyze information and address issues facing veterans and homeless people.

Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Technology
Grade 6-8

What does it means to be homeless? Constitutional studies impel students to address life in a democracy. As they discuss the political process, concerns about homeless veterans arise. To learn more about the issue, students help out at a downtown veterans’ shelter. Their responsibilities broaden as they:
Stock the food pantry.
Work at the clothing store.
Perform clerical duties.
Serve lunch.

Service is integrated with learning when students read literature about homelessness and the military. Veterans visit school and respond to questions about their military experience. By conducting surveys and graphing results, writing essays on "Homeless Facts and Myths, and performing "Bill of Rights" skits for veterans, students demonstrate that well informed citizens can do something about Human Needs.
Sarah Johnson

Teacher Profile

Sarah has taught middle school learning disabilities classes for several years. She is a BPS Lead Teacher, Mentor Teacher, and a Boston Teachers Union Building Representative. Sarah also serves as Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves and teaches R.O.T.C. classes, "Introduction to Army" at Northeastern University.

Books and Materials

We The People… The Citizen and The Constitution
Center for Civic Education;
54 Ways You Can Help The Homeless
by Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff; The Homeless: Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion
by Teresa O’Neill

Technology Tools

ClarisWorks, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet


Special #1
The Spirit of Serving and Giving: Helping the Homeless

Special #2

A Soldiers Story: Heart to Heart Interviews

Special #3

A Salute to Veterans


Learning about the Constitution and serving
in a veteran’s shelter enables young people to understand the real meaning of participatory democracy. Interaction with veterans who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice allows students to develop lifelong skills and address the needs of underrepresented constituencies.