Middle Schoolers Get Creative to Help Homeless Pets

This is a really great way to get kids interested in writing!

Visitors to The Heritage Humane Society love seeing the big eyes and wagging tails of the shelter’s current residents, and now they are treated to colorful “why you should adopt me” essays and artwork thanks to a hands-on collaboration with Toano Middle School.

Nancy Lassiter Olson, a reading specialist at Toano Middle School, created the opportunity to connect her budding writers’ and artists’ talents with an outreach initiative that can make a difference in the very community they live. With the “why you should adopt me” assignment, students took on the opportunity to tell part of a homeless pet’s story using persuasive writing that would help that pet find their forever home.

On Feb. 11 and 13, Olson brought a total of 48 seventh- and eighth-graders from the school to the shelter to see how their writing and artistic skills to the test. For many of the students, this was their first fieldtrip in four years. The students toured the shelter, met pets they wrote about, and saw their helpful essays and artwork throughout the shelter. When each homeless pet is adopted, the essay and artwork is given to their new family as a keepsake from their “gotcha day” or adoption day.
Authentic connections

Connecting with an authentic, real world assignment created an engaging experience for the students. It evoked mindfulness, empathy, problem-solving, and self-motivation as students realized their work could make a huge difference in the futures of the shelter pets.

“Thank you to The Heritage Humane Society! We are so grateful to have had this opportunity for our students. To see the smiles on the faces of these students as they saw their persuasive letters displayed is priceless; something that just doesn’t happen in the classroom,” shares Nancy Lassiter Olson, Reading Specialist at Toano Middle School. “As for me, this is ‘the good stuff’ about teaching. This field trip brought a breath of fresh air back into my heart as a teacher. I am already planning the next one!”

Read more here.

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