Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 6: Civic Engagement  
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Workshop 6

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Lesson Plan: Context

Since 1973, Bill Mittlefehldt has worked at Anoka High School in Anoka, Minnesota, teaching civics, economics, geography, American history, law, futuristics, psychology, Western civilization, community service, applied problem solving, environmental issues, and quality training. Prior to Anoka, he taught for several years in Riverside, Illinois. Bill Mittlefehldt has made numerous professional presentations at conferences and has published several articles about his service-learning experiences in Anoka. He also has been recognized with many awards, including having been twice nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. In the summer of 2000, Bill Mittlefehldt and his daughter paddled for 65 days from Duluth to New York City, a distance of 1,650 miles, to gather stories of civic and sustainable collaboration. Bill Mittlefehldt holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, a Master of Arts in religious studies and a Master of Divinity degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in curriculum and instructional systems from the College of Education at the University of Minnesota.

Anoka High School is the largest high school in the state of Minnesota. Its current enrollment is about 3,300 students and it is still growing. The school was recognized nationally as an Excellence in Action site in 1993.

Anoka is a suburban city of approximately 17,600 people, located at the convergence of the Rum and Mississippi Rivers. The Rum River runs right behind the school. The city is about 18 miles northwest of Minneapolis and 25 miles from St. Paul. Anoka is located in one of the fastest-growing counties in Minnesota with a population of over 270,000. The city was originally a farm community and has maintained its historic downtown main street. Around 1900, Anoka began to be swallowed up by the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

Human Geography is a nine-week course that meets four times a week for 85 minutes per class period. It is a social studies elective for 11th- and 12th-graders and includes students of all ability levels, including students with special needs. The course curriculum has nine major units and an applied civics project, which is the lesson focused upon in this program. The focus of the course is on how people interact with the land, the region, the culture, and the landscape over time. Students use maps extensively to help understand the key components of change in their community.

The nine units are as follows: Geography and Human Geography; Maps, Perspectives, and Technical Tools; Earth and Changing Geographic Environments; Human Origins: Family Tree and Population; Civilization and Urbanization: Designs for Living; Regional Issues and Environmental Stress: Air, Water, Land, Biodiversity, Energy (AWLBE); Regional Issues, Environment, and AWLBE; Sustainable Minnesota: Learning Our Way; and Sustainable U.S.: Learning Our Way.

The Applied Civics Project, in which students identify and work on a community issue related to what they are learning, also has a nine-week sequence: Introduction to Task and Total Community Quality; Select Team, Topic, and Partner; Research Team Topic: Begin Defining Problem; Research Team Topic: Begin Articulating Solutions; Research Team Topic: Improve Problem-Solution; Prepare for Presentation: Rehearse Teamwork for Presenting; Final Class Presentation and Written Report.


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