Facing Homelessness in Our Community
Michael Lally
teaches English Language Arts and Social Studies at Orchard Gardens Pilot School.

Students: Grades 7 & 8 English Language Arts & Social Studies classes
Rosie’s Place
Project Hope

Classroom Activities
Write personal views of homeless people in reflection journals
Share reflections with class & discuss positive & negative views
View & report on The Little Match Girl & The Prince of Central Park
Read & report on Monkey Island
Compare personal views of homeless people before & after viewing films & reading books
Organize & hold Clothing Drive to help women & children at Rosie’s Place
Create web site & computer slide shows on Homelessness in Boston
Community Activities
Walk through neighborhood
Identify local facilities that serve homeless women & families
Advertise Clothing Drive throughout school & on class web site
Share computer slide shows with other classes
Visit Rosie’s Place & deliver clothing
Plan to continue relationship with local social service agencies that serve homeless women, children & families
Teacher Reflections
When we first discussed students’ personal views of homelessness, most replies indicated we had some work to do. Responses portrayed drunken and dangerous men wandering the streets. As we read books, watched films, and discussed the issues, different pictures emerged. I deliberately try not to steer or influence our discussions. Conversations have led to exactly where I hoped. Students now want to help. They realize that homeless people are like us, and they are in dire need of help. While students may still be wary, they now exhibit more compassion towards homeless people. They see themselves as change agents for the greater social good.
Student Reflections
At first, I thought homeless people stayed on the corner, drank liquor, and smoked.
Then I saw how Jay Jay survived in The Prince of Central Park. I read Monkey Island and found out how Clay Garrity lived on the streets. That changed my mind. Now I know not all homeless people are men. I think that homeless people probably were just like us when they were little kids. They went to school. They had goals to achieve. Then they had real problems like they couldn’t pay rent, or they lost their jobs. . . . I’m learning that we can help homeless people. We can help them learn how to read, bring them clothes and help feed them. We can make a difference.

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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