Hurricane Katrina Service Learning Projects



We all see the images on television of the horrible loss and suffering endured by so many people.  We all want to do something to help.  Americans, and people from all over the world, have been offering enormous resources.  We care.

Our students care, too.  And they have a real emotional need to be able to take some action, to do something, that will help.  Listed below you will find some suggestions for service-learning projects.  These can be done in after-school programs, or they can be a part of the regular curriculum.  You will see the curriculum connections.  Remember, a thematic, interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum connected to real life, is the best way to deliver the curriculum.  Going through these projects, your students will achieve greater levels of learning everything from the content standards for each discipline to the basic knowledge and skills needed in the 21st century.  And they will do better on their standardized tests than if they receive a curriculum that is textbook-driven and fragmented.

Great resources for developing service-learning projects are on this web site at:  Service-Learning.

What is needed?  First of all - funding for food, clothing and housing.  Also needed is emotional healing, cultural preservation, fun, and information to prevent such losses from happening again:

Possible Projects include:

  1. Fundraisers:

    1. Film Festival - can be student-produced films (preferable) or invite film producers to participate.  Many cities have film industries and organizations which can help you locate producers to help with this.  For example, here in Austin we have the Austin Film Resource web site which includes contact information for independent producers and other people in the film industry here in Austin.  Or contact some major producers.

    2. Halloween or Fall Carnival/Fair 

    3. Telethon - contact your local public access television station and public radio station, or a nearby university department of Radio-Television-Film (known as RTF departments).  They can assist you in production, and this provides great media literacy and social action skills for your students.

    4. Family Fun Fair - like #2, but at any time of year.

    5. Mini-Triathlon  -  students participate, or invite the entire community.  Contact local corporations for sponsorship, and get it advertised on television.  Motorola in Austin sponsors a running marathon every spring for the community, and thousands of people participate.  (A triathlon is a 3-spport event, usually involving running, swimming and bicycling.)

    6. Bike Ride - he usually raises money for cancer, but perhaps you could get Lance Armstrong to ride one with you.  To organize a bike ride properly you should contact a local bike shop.  Also see USA Cycling for all rules on various types of bicycle racing.  There are many, many other great bicyclists you could contact.  Just go to your local bike shops for info and assistance.

    7. Other Pledges or Drives - what would you need if you lost everything but the clothes on your back and you were staying at a hotel, a shelter, or moving into an empty apartment?

      1. Personal Care Items:  soap, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, hygiene items

      2. Toys:  coloring books, crayons, puzzles, any activity or toy

      3. Baby Care - Diapers, Baby Wipes, Infant Care Items

      4. Long Distance Calling Cards, Batteries, FM Radios, Walkie-Talkies

      5. Clothing - NEW children's and adult socks and underwear (not used, please)

      6. Household - kitchen and bedding items - sheets, pillows, etc.  (NEW)

      7. Computers - NAACP of Baton Rouge is requesting old computers - any kind - to provide access for people needing to find family members, and to connect to available resources.

    8. Community Dinner Theatre - I know of several schools who use this theme for an entire unit, and the culminating project is a dinner theatre.  Themes included a Shakespeare Dinner Theatre (I knew one that was an 8th grade project)  ;  Charles Dickens' Dinner Theatre (this one was upper elementary, and extremely successful);  December Celebrations Dinner Theater (high school - included Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, etc.)


  2. Focus on the Arts

    1. Sidewalk Artists Sale - like you see in the French Quarter in New Orleans - artists painting and displaying/selling their paintings in Jackson Square.  Have your students sell their art, OR have them contact artists to donate paintings for the event.  (You should probably arrange to sell refreshment, and have some other entertainment.  Research activities in Jackson Square and have students perform, or invite community members and professionals to perform.  In Jackson Square you will find jugglers on unicycles, magicians doing magic shows, mimes, and all kinds of fun people and activities.)

    2. Benefit Concert - invite some local bands and singers to perform.  Or maybe invite some famous bands and singers to perform.  Also, contact local DJs for their help.  Get the local newspaper and television stations, as well as printers, to help get the word out.  Contact local businesses to be sponsors.  Once again, sell refreshments.

    3. Jazz Festival

    4. Mardi Gras - many towns hold Mardi Gras;  it doesn't just happen in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro.  Organize a school level Mardi Gras, or contact your Mayor and City Council, as well as local clubs and businesses, to help organize a city-level celebration.  Kids CAN do this!

  1. Focus on Information

    1. Public Service Announcements  -  create brief PSAs (Public Service Announcements) for television and radio which provide information on Hurricane Preparedness, or Extreme Heal or Cold Preparedness, Thunderstorm or Tornado or Flood Safety, etc.

    2. Cooking Show on DVDs to sell have the students research cultural recipes, or local favorites, either from New Orleans or from your community, or anywhere.  Then have them videotape and edit a cooking show, put it on DVD and sell them to the public.  See this link for more information on this idea.

Please send share your ideas for service-learning projects with us, and we will post them here.

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Planning a Service-Learning Project.-  follow this link for great resources on service-learning.