|Funded through a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Project Heart, Head, Hands (H3) aims to shape capable, caring, socially responsible youth through character education and service-learning. At the center of H3 is a comprehensive curriculum aligned with California state-adopted language arts texts. Based on the reading selections in the districtâ€™s language arts curriculum, H3 integrates a range of classroom learning activities (discussions, role-plays, writing, small-group tasks, etc.) that provide students with opportunities to learn about positive character and prosocial behavior. Featured elements of the curriculum include social-emotional skill-building lessons to support positive interactions among students and a service-learning component that offers students the opportunity to engage in standards-based community service projects.
Project Heart, Head, Hands is currently being implemented in two school districts and over 30 schools. In Fremont Unified School District, H3 is being implemented in conjunction with the adopted Open Court Reading series. In Hayward Unified School District, H3 materials are aligned with the adopted Houghton Mifflin series. Now in its third year of implementation, the program is reaching approximately 20,000 students by working with over 900 teachers.
Under the requirements of the grant, H3 includes rigorous research and evaluation activities to determine program effectiveness and impact. Using a quasi-experimental, pre/post survey design with comparison groups of students, one major research task will be to determine the projectâ€™s contribution to the development of youth assets; these assets are qualities, skills, attitudes and experiences that are associated with youth engagement in safe and positive behaviors.
Teachers who are currently implementing the program report positive effects in their classrooms. Students treat each other with kindness and respect, work cooperatively, and strive diligently in their studies. Additionally, they are committed to helping others. As one first-grader recently said, helping others â€œgives you a warm feeling inside your heart.â€
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