Different Choices ~ Learning How to Serve Homeless Families
Adapted from Artists Act Against Homelessness
Claudia Bell
teaches Spanish & International Relations at The English High School.

Students: Grade 9-12 Spanish Literacy class

Agassiz Elementary School
Casa Nueva Vida, Doris Gaitan, After School Program
Greater Boston Food Bank
Habitat for Humanity
Pine Street Inn, Hector Ruiz, Street Social Worker
Walk for Hunger

Classroom Activities
Address homelessness myths & misconceptions in journals
View Issues of Homelessness film
Research Internet articles, ex. Food for Thought/Project Bread & National Student Campaign Against Hunger & Homelessness
Invite representatives from Casa Nueva Vida & Pine Street Inn to school
Select children’s literature about homelessness
Write stories about the life of a homeless person
Divide into small groups & choose ways to participate in varying community initiatives on homelessness
Community Activities
Interview Administrator & Resident from Casa Nueva Vida Shelter for Latina women & children
Make choices:
Interview Pine Street Inn Street Social Worker
Visit Casa Nueva Vida Shelter & interact with residents
Prepare dinner & children’s gift baskets for shelter’s Three Kings Day celebration
Schedule weekly visits to Agassiz Elementary
Read literature on homelessness & students’ stories to first graders
Sort food at Greater Boston Food Bank
Paint 2 low-income housing units for Habitat for Humanity
Participate in citywide Walk for Hunger
Come together:
Share reflections & writings on homelessness with members of the school’s Global Small Learning Community & in newsletter The Global Reporter
Teacher Reflections
Students changed in significant ways. . . . The most important change was that students developed a sense of empowerment. They began to feel more comfortable and confident of their knowledge and ability to teach others. . . . They became sensitive in dealing with children both at Casa Nueva Vida and at the Agassiz. Those who visited Casa Nueva Vida witnessed the struggles of the mothers and expressed in their journals how fortunate that they were on the right track to college and a better future. . . . Students also improved their reading and writing skills in both Spanish and English. . . . They were able to comprehend, analyze articles, read children’s books in a more fluid manner, and write a short story from a particular point of view for youngsters. They also improved in grammar and spelling mechanics.

Student Reflections
Eralba:We learned one reason for so many homeless people in Boston is that housing is too expensive. A solution is to build more low-income housing. It makes me feel really good that I joined Habitat for Humanity and spent time painting a new house on Blue Hill Avenue. . . . They will never know who helped them, but I will know every time I pass by that house. That’s a good feeling.
Neydey: I used to have a very different idea about homeless people. I thought that they were like the people I sometimes saw on the street: sad faces, thin bodies, old, dirty clothes. . . . However when I went to the Casa Nueva Vida shelter, the women and children didn’t look like that. . . . Maybe if they didn’t have Casa Nueva Vida to live in, they would be like the street people. I think they are lucky because they are working for a better future.

TeachNet Service Learning is administered by Boston Public Schools Affiliate IMPACT II @ High School Renewal.
Supporting TeachNet are Special Assistant to the Superintendent for High School Renewal, Kathleen Mullin; IMPACT II Affiliate Director Barbara Locurto; WebMaster Andrew Binns; Web Advisor Linda Younis, High School Renewal; School to Career Program: Linda Younis; Project Assistant Jean Gibran. For more information, email blocurto@gmail.com.

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