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Murals for Morale


  • Project TitleMurals for Morale
  • ThemeStudents design and paint murals to make the school building a more inviting and inclusive space for students to learn.
  • Submitted ByAmy Higgins
  • OrganizationPittsfield High School, Pittsfield, MA
  • Brief DescriptionStudents polled a cross section of the student body and teachers from all disciplines to find out what kinds of wall murals would lift their spirits and improve morale. The students believed that how they felt about the building would positively impact their academic performance and their desire to be in school.
  •  /project637_2923/1_Listing.png/project637_2923/2_mural.png/project637_2923/2a_mural.png/project637_2923/3_mural.png
  • Materials / ResourcesPaint, brushes, and related supplies purchased through grant monies. Primer paint donated by the City of Pittsfield Facilities Management Office.
  • Team membersAmy Higgins, Guidance Counselor; Kristen Negrini, English Teacher; Gina Wagner, College & Career Counselor
  • Pre-requisite knowledgeNone
  • Technical support neededNone

Key Questions

  • Key QuestionsDoes the physical appearance of the school building impact students‘ attitudes?
    How could representing particular cultures or famous figures (historical and current) impact students‘ feeling of belonging in the school?
  • SuConnections: How or why was this topic identified? Why is it meaningful?Students took a walk through the building in one of our first classes together to begin brainstorming project ideas and doing an informal needs assessment. They felt strongly after this walk that the school walls were plain and uninspiring. It became meaningful to the students to make the appearance of the school more appealing and they were interested in how an improved appearance might impact morale, attitudes about school, and school spirit.
  • Background Research: What resources were used to find background information for this project?Students conducted interviews with department heads and administration to find out what they wanted to see changed and ended up getting a historical perspective from some staff members (murals that had been unfinished for years, etc.). Students also designed a survey for students to investigate what they wanted to see on the walls, including which flags we could add to a mural previously painted, to represent more countries and cultures that may better reflect the current student body. They surveyed a cross section of student grade levels, tallied the results, and used the responses to

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Student Survey.pdf

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Faculty Interview Questions.pdf

  • Outcomes: What was the outcome? How was it shared or applied in the community?Based on staff interviews and student survey results, the students chose 6 flags to add to the current flag mural and a portrait of Malala to add to the History wing.
  • Family: Any opportunities to involve parent/guardians and other family members in this project?No.

Units / Activities

  • Introduction to Service Learning (1.5 hours)Personal Inventory; Self-Exploration (thinking about what each student‘s interests, skills, and talents are).Handouts from The Complete Guide to Service Learning Signature Strengths Inventory:

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Personal Inventory and Project Planning.pdf

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Signature Strengths.pdf

  • Introduction to Service Learning P2 (1.5 hours)Four Corners Activity
    Group walk through school
    Poster board, markers

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Four Corners.pdf

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Notes from Walk Through.pdf

  • Brainstorming (1.5 hours)Project brainstormingHandouts from The Complete Guide to Service Learning
  • Gathering Information (4 days, 6 total hours)Creating, distributing, and tallying student surveys.
    Creating interview questions for staff and administration and conducting interviews. Reporting back information to group.
    Group discussions on project specifics.
    Creating timeline for project completion.
    Collecting materials and getting final approvals from school administration and city officials.
    Paper, pens, computer, telephone.

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Student Survey.pdf

    View/Download File: /project637_2923/Faculty Interview Questions.pdf

  • Project Implementation (4 days, 6 total hours)Sketching and painting murals.Paint, brushes, ladders.

Instructional Techniques

  • Teacher DirectedDiscussing group norms and timeline, facilitating brainstorming sessions, leading group activities (ex. Four Corners), helping students complete handouts on Personal Inventories and Project Design.
  • Group WorkFour Corners activity, informal needs assessment - walking through the school building and taking notes, project brainstorming
  • SurveysDesigning, distributing, and tallying survey results.
  • InterviewsStudents designed interview questions based on need-to-know information to implement project and to elicit ideas for murals. Students split up and interviewed staff in scheduled meeting times and city officials in phone interviews. They also led city officials through a tour of prospective mural sites in the school building.
  • Service Learning StrategiesImplementing the Service Learning Standards throughout the phases of the project.

Assessment Techniques

  • ReflectionStudents used the Student Self Evaluation handout to discuss and record strengths and weaknesses of their project implementation and group strategies.
  • Timeline/checklistTeachers helped students create a timeline for project implementation and used the timeline periodically to check in with the group on progress.

Tags = art | Subject = ELA, Mathematics, History, Service_Learning | Grade Level = HS | Time Period = School Year | Program/Funding = | NONE |
Direct website link to this project: