Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers
Civic Engagement — Workshop Session
Key Constructivist Methodology:
- Service Learning
Teacher: Bill Mittlefehldt
School: Anoka High School, Anoka, Minnesota
Grade Level: 11th- and 12th-Grade
Course: Human Geography
- To connect meaningful service in the school or community with academic learning and civic responsibility
This program shows a group of 11th- and 12th-grade students at Anoka High School in Anoka, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, engaging in a significant way to improve the quality of their community. All students in Anoka are required to participate in service learning in order to graduate from high school. Students begin with simple teacher-defined activities in the ninth grade and become progressively more involved and self-directed as they progress through their high school years. In this Human Geography class taught by Bill Mittlefehldt, a 30-year veteran of the classroom, students work in teams to define a project, choose and meet with a community partner who can help educate them about the seriousness of the issue and its current status, conduct further research on the identified problem, and present the problem and their proposed solutions first to their peers, and then to a special session of the Anoka City Council. This lesson satisfies state and national standards while helping deal simultaneously with the needs of today’s teens and today’s communities.
The support materials under Sections will lead you through the viewing of the workshop video and the related activities and discussions for “Civic Engagement.” These materials can be used by individuals and by facilitators of workshop sessions.
The support materials identify key concepts, provide discussion ideas for each video segment, and recommend follow-up activities for after the workshop session.
The following materials provide background and context for the lesson seen in the workshop video. They also supply the tools you need to adapt this lesson and its teaching strategies for your classroom.
Information on Bill Mittlefehldt’s method of teaching the lesson on civic engagement, the national standards this lesson addresses, additional resources, and his teaching materials, including:
- Team Rubric
- Assessment Rubric: Anoka’s Civic Leadership
- Human Geography: Applied Civics Project–Sequence of Learning Activities
- Connection Points
- Anoka’s STEP Model for Civic Engagement
- Applying Geographic Information to Analyze Public Policy Issues
- Applied Civic Possibilities: Areas and Topics
- Human Geography: Applied Civics Project–Total Community Quality
See Lesson Plan
Bill Mittlefehldt’s reflections on the following topics:
- Flow of the class
- Service learning sequence
- Service learning credits
- Community partners
- Total community quality
- Importance of curriculum
- Affective domain
- His development as a teacher
- Evolution of his teaching strategies
- Presenting projects to the City Council
- North Star Rail Corridor project
- Brownfield project
- The mayor on service learning
Bill Mittlefehldt’s 11th- and 12th-grade students’ reflections on the following topics:
- Standards and service learning
- Class routine
- Service learning projects
- Student partners
- Community partners
- Preparing their presentations
- Recapping their presentations
- His teaching style
- Value of service learning
- Lessons learned
Standards of Quality for School-Based and Community-Based Service Learning
Prepared by the Alliance for Service-Learning in Education Reform
The Alliance for Service-Learning in Education Reform is affiliated with the Close-Up Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia. In this article, the Alliance sets out a variety of key principles schools should consider prior to starting a service-learning initiative and provides many hints on how to design a program that will be educationally productive and run smoothly.
Service Learning in the Social Studies
Prepared by the Constitutional Rights Foundation
The approach to service learning in the social studies explained here is based on the work of the Close Up Foundation and the Constitutional Rights Foundation in Los Angeles in developing Active Citizenship Today (ACT). ACT is a unique social studies service-learning program because it includes the analysis of public policy as a crucial step in the service learning process.
See Other Lessons
Support Materials: Workshop 6: Civic Engagement
A tool for individuals and facilitators of workshop sessions.
Lesson Materials: Human Geography: Applied Civics Project--Sequence of Learning Activities
Bill Mittlefehldt’s teaching materials
Lesson Materials: Applying Geographic Information to Analyze Public Policy Issues
Bill Mittlefehldt’s teaching materials
Lesson Materials: Applied Civic Possibilities: Areas and Topics
Bill Mittlefehldt’s teaching materials
Workshop 1 Freedom of Religion
Ninth-grade civics teacher Kristen Borges involves her students at Southwest High School in Minnesota in a simulation of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on a First Amendment case. Students assume the roles of Supreme Court justices, attorneys for the school district, and attorneys for the families. They first work in groups to prepare for the hearing, then participate in the hearing, and finally, debrief their experiences and write short papers stating their positions on the case. The methodologies highlighted in this lesson include questioning strategies and mock trials.
Workshop 2 Electoral Politics
This program shows the conclusion of a 12-week civic engagement unit developed by the national Student Voices program. José Velazquez's 12th-grade students at University High School in New Jersey divide into small groups to brainstorm and research community issues, prioritize the issues on the basis of what they have learned, present their findings to the class both orally and through a visual presentation, and develop a whole-class consensus on a youth agenda that they present to the mayoral candidates in a televised question-and-answer forum. The methodologies highlighted in this lesson include issue identification and consensus building.
Workshop 3 Public Policy and the Federal Budget
Leslie Martin's ninth-graders at West Forsyth High School in North Carolina create, present, revise, and defend a federal budget, and then reflect on what they have learned. After assuming the roles of the President and his or her advisors to create a federal budget, students are introduced to the actual 2001 federal budget, and in a whole-class discussion, discuss some key concepts involved in creating it. Next, students return to cooperative learning groups, revise their budgets based on what they learned, present their revised budgets, and simulate a Congressional hearing. This lesson highlights the integration of teacher-directed instruction with small-group work.
Workshop 4 Constitutional Convention
Matt Johnson teaches an AP Comparative Government class to seniors at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Washington, DC. In this lesson, his 12th-grade students create a constitution for a hypothetical country called Permistan. Matt Johnson uses this lesson to help students review for their final exam and the AP exam by having them draw on what they have learned during the semester about international governments. Students work in cooperative learning groups to discuss and debate issues relating to the executive and legislative branches of government. The lesson closes with a simulation of a constitutional convention. Simulation is the primary methodology highlighted in this lesson.
Workshop 5 Patriotism and Foreign Policy
The students in this program are seniors at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public magnet school in Washington, DC. In this lesson, U.S. government teacher Alice Chandler has her students create a Museum of Patriotism and Foreign Policy. The lesson alternates between whole-class discussion and small-group committee work as students create a gallery for the museum using their respective arts concentration as the medium. The lesson concludes with students presenting their gallery contributions in dance, music, theatrical performances, and visual presentations, along with rationales for their selections. This lesson highlights small-group work as a constructivist methodology.
Workshop 6 Civic Engagement
This program shows a group of 11th- and 12th-grade students at Anoka High School in Minnesota engaging in service learning — a requirement for graduation. In this human geography class taught by Bill Mittlefehldt, students work in teams to define a project, choose and meet with a community partner who can help educate them about the issue and its current status, conduct further research, and present the problem and a proposed solution first to their peers, and then to a special session of the Anoka City Council. The primary methodology presented in this lesson is service learning.
Workshop 7 Controversial Public Policy Issues
In this 12th-grade law class at Champlin Park High School in Minnesota, JoEllen Ambrose engages students in a structured discussion of a highly controversial issue — racial profiling — and connects student learning both to their study of due process in constitutional law and police procedure in criminal law. Students begin by completing an opinion poll, which they discuss as a group. Students are then put into pairs in which they conduct research on the topic. Next, students participate in a debate in which each partnership argues both sides of the issue. A debriefing discussion completes the lesson. The methodologies highlighted in this lesson include role playing and structured academic controversy.
Workshop 8 Rights and Responsibilities of Students
Students in Matt Johnson's 12th-grade law course at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Washington, DC, engage in a culminating activity to help them review and apply what they have learned. Students write and distribute one-page briefs of Supreme Court cases they have studied. Next, students are assigned to small groups and given hypothetical cases related to student rights cases from the Supreme Court's 2001-2002 term. Students prepare their cases and present them to the Justices. Justices deliberate and present majority and dissenting opinions, after which the class discusses both the process and the disposition of the cases. This lesson highlights the use of case studies for synthesis and analysis.
Supporting Materials Introduction: Making Civics Real
Supplemental material for educators/facilitators