A semester snapshot of Service Learning


by LeeAnne Lavender, Service Learning Coach

There were so many wonderful Service Learning moments in semester 2 this year! Here is a round-up of some highlights. The momentum around Service Learning is strong and it's exciting to see so much going on in our classrooms. More and more teachers are seeing how the service learning cycle can add depth and meaning to curricular units of study, allowing students to meet learning targets while also engaging in a real-world way with issues and needs.

Grade 1 & HS Mandarin (Cecilia Lu and Doris Zhang): Doris’s HS Mandarin students made story books about myths and stories related to Chinese New Year and visited Cecilia’s grade 1 class on February 18th to share stories. Students also interacted using simple Chinese as both of the classes are at the beginner level.



Grade 1: Grade 1 teachers recently explored a unit of study about how families earn, spend and donate money. As part of their unit, they took a field trip to Carrefour. Students, in advance, earned money, and then spent that money at Carrefour on food for themselves and on goods to donate to a pre-determined cause. One class chose to support Baobei, another the WILL Foundation and three classes opted to support Shining Star by buying craft supplies.


Grade 1 students after their trip to Carrefour, assembling items for Baobei, The Will Foundation and Shining Star.

Students in Guangzhou receiving craft supplies purchased by Grade 1 students at Concordia.


Grade 2: The grade 2 team has allocated a 2-week window at the end of the year for a capstone service learning experience. They will be analyzing thematic ideas that have surfaced in recent ideas, particularly ideas that relate to the UN’s SDGs, and then each class will design a service learning experience that will respond to local needs related to the core SDGs explored in the curriculum this year. Corinna Raasch’s class is partnering with Home Sweet Home and meeting needs for the homeless community in Shanghai, organizing a parents’ presentation to teach the parents about homelessness in Shanghai while collecting non-perishable food items for Home Sweet Home’s lunch program.


Gerie from Home Sweet Home (an organization that provides support to homeless people in Shanghai) talks with grade 2 students in May 2019.

Gerie from Home Sweet Home and Corinna Raasch’s grade 2 class. The students gathered up hotel toiletry items throughout the year to donate to Home Sweet Home, and then decided to engage in a Service Learning experience to teach parents about homelessness in Shanghai.


Grade 3: Grade three classes have been engaged in service learning experiences with Shining Star throughout semester 2. After meeting with Summer Tan and hearing about her work with left-behind children in Guangzhou, each class chose one project that Summer had identified as something that would positively impact the children she works with.

·      Missy Zendler’s class wrote pen pal letters to 41 children in Guangzhou. They first wrote the letters in English and then translated the letters into Mandarin in their Mandarin classes.

·      Ashley Alfano’s class decided to research and generate instructions for dice games, and then create videos and game kits to send to groups of Shining Star children.

·      Casey Koshmeder’s class made colouring books and sent these to the Shining Star children.

·      Ruth Stevenson’s class made a variety of math games using UNO cards, inventing the games and creating instructions that they could then pass along to the students who work with Shining Star.

 Grade 4: In January, every grade 4 class engaged in using the SDG targets to write opinion essays about how to create a more peaceful world. Quotations from the essays are up in the ES stairwells. Also, Steve Sostak from Inspire Citizens was at Concordia in February to plan curriculum with team leader Michele Turner and also co-teach lessons in the classroom. Michele and Steve focused on SDGs and global competencies, and crafted curriculum for the upcoming grade 4 unit about Human Migration. The grade 4 students got out onto the streets of Shanghai to investigate migration in relation to people moving here, and you can check out the full story on Citizen C: HERE


Steve Sostak from Inspire Citizens, working with grade 4 students at Concordia.

Learning about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to prepare for an investigation about human migration in grade 4.


Grade 5: Students in the second wheel of RSB worked with Summer Tan at Shining Star and made pitches for projects they could do that would meet needs with left-behind children in Guangzhou. Summer reviewed the pitches and chose a storybook project, and the wheel 3 RSB students created and published the books. Danielle Richmond and Tom Penland, grade 5 RSB teachers, have embedded two service learning cycles into each wheel of RSB this year.


Grade 5 students plan project details to create books for Shining Star in Guangzhou.


Grade 6-8: All RSB classes were engaged in learning about access to water and UN SDG #6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and used the service learning cycle to create summative experiences/assessments:

·      Grade 6 (Deb Lancashire’s class): students made infographics about SDGs and displayed these on electronic boards throughout the school to raise awareness and initiate dialogue.


A grade 6 student in Deb Lancashire’s class conducts research for her advocacy project.


·      Grade 6 (Marissa Hauser’s class): students made videos and a website about environmental issues to teach others in our community about water.

·      Grade 7 (Mike Brandon’s class): students made display boards about SDGs and related causes that were displayed during the MS exhibition on Friday, March 8th.

·      Grade 7 (Cheryl Bedenbaugh’s class): students made picture books about water access that they shared with ES students.

·      Grade 8 (Holly Raatz’s class): students made picture books about water access that they shared with ES students.


Grade 8 students skype with Bishwa Bandari to learn about water access issues in Nepal.


·      Grade 8 (Tina Harbold’s class): students planned and executed a babysitting night that involved education and pledges about water conservation. They raised funds to support bringing water filtration to communities in need. In the photo above, students are skyping with Bishwa Bandari from Nepal; Bishwa coordinates the manufacture and distribution of clay water filters for families in rural Nepal.

·      Grade 7 (Cora Lavender’s class): students broke into four groups to investigate and research issues related to water conservation at Concordia. One group made a song to raise awareness about water access throughout the world and why people at Concordia should care about this issue. Another group investigated the use of single-use plastic bottles by some middle school students (some students still bring these from home; no single-use bottles are available on campus otherwise) and made recommendations to the MS principals about ways to mitigate this next year. Another group investigated water conservation in school bathrooms and ways we could save more water in our daily activities. One more group created a public service announcement (commercial) for CWEF. The last group put together an overarching presentation about what the groups were doing and communicated with school leaders to keep them abreast of what was happening in grade 7 and grade 8 RSB.


A poster designed by grade 7 RSB students to advocate for awareness about single-use plastics.


·      Grade 8 (Ryan Muir’s class): students planned and executed a water simulation where students had to walk to the end of the field to fill water bottles on one academic day. They did this to build more empathy for people in the world who do not have ready access to clean water and who have to walk long distances to obtain water. Later that same day (May 24), the grade 8 RSB class organized a middle school talent show to bring people together. During the talent show, they presented messages about water access, and funds from the event went to support a CWEF water project in China.


The Concordia Middle School was well-represented at the grade 8 Drip Drip Talent Show, an event designed to raise awareness about water access in China and to support a CWEF water project in Yunnan province.

Middle school teachers Holly Raatz and Tina Harbold presented a popular song from The Wizard of Oz at the grade 8 Drip Drip Talent Show.

A talented Middle School dancer who performed at the Drip Drip Talent Show.


Grade 11-12 Storytelling Agency: Dagne Furth and her students interviewed several guests and community members to learn about their stories of creating and facilitating change in our world. Guests included people like Jordan Hattar (who works with Syrian refugees: Help4refugees.org), Evelyn Tai from the Baobei Foundation, Melissa Walavalkar from the International Justice Mission, Sarah Christine (singer songwriter who partners with the Unstoppable Foundation to alleviate poverty in Kenya, Liberia and Uganda) and Summer Tan from Shining Star, a Guangzhou organization that helps left-behind children. Students wrote about these experiences and shared them on a class blog to raise awareness about global citizenship, engagement and the power of storytelling. Students also conducted empathy interviews with young readers (grades 1 – 8) to better understand what these students like to read and how this impact the stories they share and tell.


Jordan Hattar of Help4Refugees talking with Storytelling Agency students.



Grade 11-12 Applied Journalism: Brian Lavender and his students have worked all year to learn the skills of journalism (writing, editing, photography and video production). They have been publishing articles on Citizen C. These articles raise awareness of many issues and needs in the community, and also highlight the power of storytelling and effective communication.


Some recent articles by Applied Journlism students on Citizen C.


Grade 11 – 12 Global Development Studies and Grade 4: Students from Global Development Studies spent 80 minutes teaching grade 4 students about trends that encourage people to minimize consumption of resources. They set up stations and taught small groups of grade 4 students in 10-minute blocks and it was an engaging experience for everyone. The high school students loved being teachers and interacting with ES students, and the grade 4 students were able to show off how much they know about the SDGs.


Applied Global Development Studies students presenting to younger students at Concordia.


Grade 11 – 12 Applied Global Development Studies: for semester 2, these students created projects aimed at solving a local issue connected to a SDG. Projects this semester were focused on partnering with a local school where many students are the children of migrant workers; gathering data and doing an audit on the trash that Concordia generates; gathering data and creating solutions for food waste on campus; and educating the Concordia community about plastics and plastic. This last group did a presentation in late February with 8th graders to begin sharing information about the scope of the plastic problem for our planet. Groups also made formal presentations to the Concordia Leadership Council, and exemplified how to use advocacy and research in an extended and robust service learning cycle. You can read more about specific projects on Citizen C:

A crash course in take-out trash

Meeting with local restaurants about sustainable take-out

Battling a throwaway mentality: the perils of our takeout culture

Student suggestions for improving trash systems at school

A bird's eye view of the trash we produce at Concordia

On May 8th, Concordia hosted its second annual Service Celebration and several curricular and co-curricular service projects were highlighted, with representation from the ES, MS and HS divisions. Tiffany Hardegree spoke about her service experiences with the Baobei Children’s Home here in Shanghai, as well as service experiences in other continents, and shared her passion for serving others. It was a successful night where 15 projects were celebrated and honoured.


Guest speaker Tiffany Hardegree speaks about her passion for serving others at the 2nd annual Concordia Service Celebration in May.


Students from the Global Issues Network’s Bye Bye Plastic Bags group. Hoony K (left) won an inaugural Concordia Service Award for his work in founding the BBPB Shanghai chapter.

A Global Development Studies group that established a partnership with a local migrant community and school this year.

Representatives from the co-curricular Reading for Hope group that planned and executed a library project for a community in need. This group also won an inaugural Concordia Service Award for their dedication and service this year.

Grade 11 student Corey Z sharing information about the Heart to Heart club with Concordia Marketing Director Bo Hardegree at the May Service Celebration.