Wednesday, January 21, 2009

go forth. (loose) change the world.

The Loose Change the World project was not forgotten after our enthusiastic planning in the fall. With the demands of a rigorous curriculum, I simply needed to wait for a break to take our "step two" in the process. And boy did we.

Students in each section (three sections of eighteen; one section of seventeen) collaboratively brainstormed ideas for our project:

How much money do we put in the envelopes?
What is our portal of contact? 
How will people know this is GOOD and not a terrorist threat? (Sometimes I get really, really sad living in a post 9-11 world and interacting daily with adolescents who haven't KNOWN anything but post 9-11.)
Should we write a note? (Yes.) What will it say? (Brainstorm.)

Across the sections, the responses were unanimous:

1. Students opted to include a minimum of $0.50 in each envelope and a maximum of $3.00.
2. All the loose change would come from their own stashes: saved change accumulated in piggy banks, a sweep under the couch cushions, a parent's cup-holder in the car, or at the very least, from a stash provided by their teacher.
3. Envelopes would be distributed ANYWHERE--not limiting the students to just our school and surrounding community. This meant that as students departed for holiday break, they placed envelopes in cabs, at airport terminals, in CTA stations, bookstores, doctors' offices, park benches, restaurants (some even left it as an extra tip!)... The list was endless.
4. Included in each envelope was a HAND-WRITTEN NOTE (a lost art form in these days of IM and txting) that said something like the following:

You have been chosen to "Loose Change the World!" We are a group of middle school students that left this envelope for you. Use it to buy a coffee, pay your CTA fare, or even better, use it to help make someone else's day just a little bit better. All we ask is that you email us at and tell us how you used it. Please include this number ___ in the subject line. Thank you!

The students came up with this phrase and meticulously copied each word, perfect spelling at all, along with a number I assigned them randomly in hopes of tracking the envelopes. 

It's hard to put their level of excitement into words. Of course, the idea of getting ANY kind of response was invigorating to their developing minds. But I truly believe my little philanthropists were more excited as they envisioned peoples' faces tearing into the envelopes and finding such an incredible surprise inside. 

On the day of break, envelopes were decorated and students were sent into the abyss to Loose Change the World. We could only wait and excitedly refresh the email inbox...

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