I would love to brag and claim genius, but the truth of the matter is, I mistakenly, and very happily, I might add, stumbled upon the best post-unit test activity ever.
For the past 4 years, whenever I needed something to occupy my students' time after a test or project of some sort, I would ask them to visit Free Rice, a website that has sponsors, quizzes students on a number of topics (English vocabulary, English grammar, foreign languages, art, etc.) and donates food to the hungry for every correct answer. It is a legitimate site - several years ago there was an investigation into it to determine if it truly donated the food it claimed, and it was found to be accurate.
But today, I had my students (one of the rowdier classes) take a unit test online. After they finished it, a handful begged me for extra credit, claiming they did not do well on the test. I already had a few students I had directed to the site, and after watching them play the game, I thought I could convince them to learn without realizing it...I told them they would receive 1 point of extra credit for every 100 grains of rice they earned and donated to the hungry. I don't think I have EVER had that quiet of a room AFTER a unit test...ususally, they need to vent after being quiet and focusing, but today...well, it was a beautiful thing to witness.
In addition to the use of Free Rice, I also have an email reminder sent to me from The Literacy Site. This site, too, has corporate sponsors who will donate for 6 very worthy causes when you click on a link. They donate for world hunger, breast cancer, child health, literacy, the rainforest, and animal rescue. In addition to the sponsors donating to the causes, each page also has a store with items that are free trade, organic, or help in some other manner.
The email reminder is sent daily, and, let's be honest, in our busy lives, who will remember to visit a site every day when it doesn't spout gossip or shopping, or even something more mundane that we find fascinating? All it takes is 6 little clicks to help others.
And it is our busy lives, our society as a whole, that prompts me to do this. So simple, and something I can do - I can afford it, I can spare 30 seconds, and I have no reason to forget. It is, next to being a mother, wife, and teacher, the most important thing I do to help those less fortunate, and it reminds me that, no matter how hard I think I have it, how exhausted, how worried, how stretched, there are others out there who are facing things much worse. This is my esemplastic link to reality and to expanded borders outside my tiny world.