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Showcasing Carol Haring and "Knock-Knock Cards"When foreign language teacher Carol Haring read an article in her local newspaper that mentioned a request for Valentine's Day cards from the local library in Duncan, South Carolina, she jumped at the chance to get her students involved in community service.

She found that her students at James F. Byrnes High School also were eager to help. They created valentines in German and English that contained "Zum Valentinstag" (Happy Valentine's Day) on the cover and a knock-knock joke inside.

"Since I am department chair, I realized that this would be a wonderful community service activity if we had our French and Spanish students also do cards," Haring told Education World. "It would mean that many more cards would bring cheer to homebound -- and often ill -- people. When I explained the project to my foreign language colleagues, they were enthusiastic in their response.

"I found knock-knock jokes online, many having to do with German," Haring said. "One example:
Who's there?
Hans who?
Hans off the table."

The other language teachers also found related knock-knock jokes as well. Then, in a single class period, students made the cards, decorated them, and copied a joke. After school, Haring delivered more than 150 cards to the library's homebound services department.

"After the library delivered the cards to a local nursing home on Valentine's Day, one of my students received a thank-you note from the personnel manager of the home," recalled Haring. "She said the residents were delighted with the cards, the foreign greetings, and the knock-knock jokes. The volumes of cards had succeeded in brightening a few lives on a special day."

Creating cards for those who appreciate them most is a project Haring invites others to try -- on Valentine's Day or any other holiday. She recommends having all the required supplies on hand -- paper, colored pencils, markers, and a long list of knock-knock jokes -- before students begin their work. She also suggests not allowing students to duplicate jokes. Each of her students' cards had a unique and amusing line to share. If the project involves other classes, Haring notes that it might require additional time for preparation and organization. She advises setting a deadline for all cards to be completed five days in advance of the holiday.

"I think it's important for students to become acquainted with the concept of doing something for a non-monetary reward; the reward in this case being the satisfaction of knowing that the cards brought surprise and joy to people who were not expecting them on a day on which we all like to be remembered," added Haring.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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