the be homeful project: Grades 9-12 lesson plan (ages 14-17)
The big idea
Homelessness affects people of all ages, especially children and families, but we can work together to end homelessness. Giving students the opportunity to think about and discuss an issue that is often overlooked is a valuable chance for them to use critical thinking skills, while addressing a current issue.
Students will feel more connected to individuals without homes. They will understand that they can take action to end homelessness and that they will participate in open discussion with their classmates that allows for reflection and critical thinking.
In the real world
Homelessness exists in our country and in our towns. The more educated our students are on the topic, the more likely they are to react empathetically when they encounter homelessness. Ideally, these lessons will lead to an understanding of family homelessness and will instill in a student the knowledge and confidence to work towards ending it.
Time frame: 30-40 minutes
To educate students about homelessness and encourage community engagement.
CCCS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8, 9-10, 11-12
"Growing up Homeless" video featuring CCEH staff member who experienced homelessness as a child
Blank lined paper
be homeful Activity Kit
Homelessness: without a home
Reasons that family can become homeless
if someone gets hurt
gas, groceries, and the cost of housing together can cost more than people can afford
One expense can leave a family unable to pay rent.
Someone who doesn't have a home or someone experiencing homelessness (preferred term) vs. "homeless person".
Statistics: 1,000 families experience homelessness in Connecticut each year. If it takes $1,000 on average to help a family remain housed, how much does it take to end family homelessness in Connecticut for a year?
The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act helps students without homes be enrolled quickly without usually required forms and lets those students experience stability by staying at the same school even when their residence is not stable.
Serves "individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." Helps students who are:
living in motels, campgrounds, etc
living in emergency or transitional shelters
sleeping somewhere that isn't a typical place to sleep (e.g. a park bench)
How should I take part in Civic Life? (compelling question)
Introduction: Assumed goodwill for the discussion. Respect each others' experiences and thoughts. Be aware that your experience may be different than another persons'. (CIV 9-12.7)
Teacher will discuss why some families experience homelessness (specifically family homelessness and the unexpected costs that cause it)
Teacher will introduce the McKinney-Vento law to contextualize the issue (CIV 9-12.5)
What are the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in the United States? (Supporting question)
Explain 211, an emergency hotline for people to call for many different services.
Class discussion: Teacher will ask the class what they know about homelessness, their experiences with homelessness, etc.
Students will be asked to volunteer ideas to the class.
Students will write down their ideas on a piece of paper (without names), crumple the paper up, and throw it into the center of the room.
Teacher will share some of the anonymous thoughts.
Video and class discussion:
Teacher will show "Growing up homeless" video.
After the video, students will discuss in groups of 2-3 (INQ 3-5.11)
What did you learn? How did you feel? Were you surprised by anything?
In 2015 there were 3,000 unaccompanied youths (age 14-24) experiencing homelessness. What do you think of that?
Students will reconvene and the teacher will ask them to share any thoughts that they wish to.
How did it make you feel? Were you surprised by anything?
Teacher will present charts and statistics on family homelessness (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the most current data).
Share the summary of Connecticut's Point-in-Time Count, the annual volunteer census of the homeless population which takes please one cold night in January each year. This data shows the families who were without a home on a single night, but we know from shelter data that 2,000 children in families enter the shelter system each year in Connecticut.
Teachers will ask students to consider this data alongside the video. Which sections tie back to things that the sisters said?
Does any of this data surprise you? Are there any that you hadn't thought about parents struggling to pay for?
Explore this article at home or in class. It contains an interactive map showing what towns families entering the shelter system came from the year we launched the be homeful project. What surprises you? What are you thinking about?
What other data would be helpful to understanding homelessness in Connecticut? (INQ 9-12.5)
What kind of challenges might people collecting data on homelessness face? (INQ 9-12.6)
After seeing this data, what would you say to someone who says that homeless individuals should help themselves? Where does that argument come from? What might be some flaws, or if you agree, why do you agree? (INQ 9-12.13) (CIV 9-12.1) (INQ 9-12.12)
Closure: Teacher will explain that it only takes $1,000 to prevent a family from becoming homeless. Teacher will reiterate that 1000 families become homeless each year and will ask students to reflect on the cost of ending homelessness for a year in Connecticut. Why does homelessness still exist in such a wealthy state? What opportunities do I have to become involved in Connecticut or my local community? (Supporting question)
Reinforce the distinction between "helping the homeless" and "ending homelessness" by holding a "marmalade drive" in honor of Paddington's favorite food. Kids can teach their families what they have learned and build the social safety net for children in their communities by collecting change for their local "be homeful" fund, which frontline workers from the shelter system can access to help local families facing imminent homelessness remain housed rather than enter the shelter system in the first place. Visit www.behomeful.org/marmdrive to download your DIY marmalade kit.