During their study of local history and folklore, fourth grade students were challenged by their teacher to find folklore or music about the relationship between Vermont rivers and the state’s heritage. The students quickly discovered there was very little information available to the public about the rivers and their place in Vermont’s history and culture. Believing that information was important for the public to have, the students decided to do a service-learning project detailing how the state’s rivers have shaped Vermont’s history and culture.
The students began extensive research into the history of Vermont and particularly its rivers. They took walking field trips along a local river to make observations, and met with local high school students and the “Friends of Winooski” community group to learn about current river/watershed issues. The students also learned about Vermont’s heritage and culture, both past and present, through newspaper articles, classroom discussions and assigned reading materials.
Once they had completed their research, the students discussed ways they could educate others about the historical importance of the rivers and the need to protect and sustain them for future generations. Ultimately, the students decided to create a CD and an accompanying book with information about the past and present importance of Vermont’s rivers.
For their work on the CD, the students partnered with a local singer/songwriter. On the CD, the students wrote and recorded original poetry and songs and recorded information about the history of the rivers in Vermont. The accompanying book included copies of the original song lyrics and poetry as well as student artwork. When the CD and book was complete and copies were made, the students hosted a CD Release Party for students, family and community members. At the party, the students talked about their project and sold the CDs and books. Proceeds from the CDs and books were donated to a local environmental organization dedicated to protecting Vermont watersheds.