Make a Difference Every Day with Middle-Level Students

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Make a Difference Day held on the fourth Saturday of October, celebrates the power of people to make a difference in the lives of others in their community. This past weekend millions of volunteers worldwide united in a shared mission to volunteer. Created in 1992 by USA Weekend magazine and co-sponsor Points of Light Foundation, the event has now spread to over 30 countries. It is an annual reminder of how volunteer work is every community’s backbone and life force. The benefits of volunteer work for students are immeasurable. Let’s encourage our middle-level students to continue the mission of volunteering and supporting the community year-round.

Whether giving back to their school or volunteering in the community, middle-level students are never too young to learn how to use their talents to volunteer. Volunteering benefits the students as much as the organization and people they’re helping. Students develop empathy and written and verbal communication skills as they work closely with peers and the people they serve. In addition, volunteering fosters leadership skills as students learn to stay productive and meet deadlines. Collaboration and teamwork are also essential skills developed during volunteering.

There are various ways middle-level students can make a difference in their school or community. For example, students may tutor younger children in their school, help with extracurricular activities, or volunteer in the library to help put away books. Participating in community cleanups, visiting assisted living homes, and volunteering at animal shelters are other ways students can help make a difference throughout the year. 

Technology has impacted how students work and communicate; those skills can open additional volunteer opportunities. Students can put essential skills like website design and digital communications to work. They can brainstorm ideas, organize resources, and advertise volunteer opportunities for the community. Listed below are tech tools and resources to help students make a difference.

Brainstorming: Use bubble.us (reviewed here) for students to brainstorm volunteer ideas for Make a Difference Day and the resources needed to make the event a success.

Organization: Organization is essential to the success of an event, and it’s valuable for students to learn how technology can support volunteer opportunities. Trello (reviewed here) is a fantastic site for organizing resources, people, and information. 

Communication: Effective and efficient communication skills are lifelong skills students can develop through authentic learning experiences like volunteering. Use Canva for Education (reviewed here) for students to create posters and announcements for their volunteer experiences. 

Engaging in community service allows students to become active members of their community and has a lasting, positive impact on society. What are your favorite strategies and resources for middle-level students to support volunteerism and community support? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!   


About the author: Kevin Bower

Kevin Bower has 20 years of elementary teaching experience, is a certified reading specialist, and teaches instructional technology to pre-service and practicing teachers. He has presented nationally, had his teaching practices cited in various publications, and published a collaborative article on infusing technology into the balanced literacy classroom. Kevin’s research interests focus on using technology to best meet the needs of students with diverse abilities.


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