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Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers

Civic Engagement — Workshop Session

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Key Constructivist Methodology:

  • Service Learning

Teacher: Bill Mittlefehldt

School: Anoka High School, Anoka, Minnesota

Grade Level: 11th- and 12th-Grade

Course: Human Geography

Lesson Objectives:

  • To connect meaningful service in the school or community with academic learning and civic responsibility

The Lesson
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.

Support Materials
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.

Additional Materials
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.

Lesson Plan

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

Lesson Materials

  • 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

Teacher Perspectives

Bill Mittlefehldt’s reflections on the following topics:

  • Goal
  • Flow of the class
  • Service learning sequence
  • Service learning credits
  • Community partners
  • Grouping
  • Standards
  • Total community quality
  • Assessment
  • Importance of curriculum
  • Affective domain
  • Constructivism
  • 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


See Teacher Perspectives

Student Perspectives

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


See Student Perspectives

Essential Readings

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.


See Essential Readings

Other Lessons

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

Series Directory

Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers