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Making community to classroom connections
Related tool: Making the Connections Plan

Purpose of this Tool: After you and your colleagues identify and visit the various organizations, work together to generate ideas on how you can connect the organizations to your curriculum. The Making the Connections Plan will help you organize this work.

How to Use this Tool: Read over the brief descriptions of community/classroom curricular connections. Visit the Internet websites and/or read the articles and books listed below. Then, use the Making the Connections Plan to create your own community/classroom curricular connections. (Note: Once you have created your plans, you can use the Analyzing Student Work tools to assess how the community-based curricular projects you created contributed to students’ learning.)

Community and Classroom Curricular Examples

Teachers and youth workers from around the country developed the following projects. Each addressed state and local learning standards as they provided students opportunities to learn from and contribute to their communities in powerful ways:

  • A high school civics class worked with a local youth organization to engage students in civic leadership. One of the projects involved students researching and mobilizing funds to build a skate park for local youth.
  • A middle school science class worked with a
    local wetlands preserve and the state environmental resources department to conduct research and become custodians of the wetlands. Students met science learning standards as they monitored water quality, planted trees to halt coastal erosion and presented their research to groups throughout their community.
  • A middle school class worked with a local Boys and Girls Club to produce an oral history project. Students visited and interviewed senior citizens throughout their community. They created a book and a video based on the project that they presented to audiences throughout the community.
  • A high school English class worked with a local
    shelter for victims of domestic violence to research, write and create a video about dating violence. Students presented the video at high schools in their city, led discussions and provided peers with information on how to prevent dating violence and how to get help if they experienced it.
  • A third grade class organized a Young Authors’ Conference for youth in their community. They invited and organized professional authors and storytellers to provide workshops and entertainment.
  • Two sixth-grade classes curated a cross-cultural art exhibit focused on the theme of “identity” at the city’s art museum. They contacted local artists, researched artwork, selected pieces, designed the exhibit and wrote the wall text and object labels.
  • When Cincinnati proposed building a new bridge across the Ohio River, elementary students conducted community surveys, background research on bridges and the city’s history, and used computer-based geometry simulations to review the geometry of bridges and create models. Students also used video cameras to monitor rush-hour traffic and compile statistics on bridge traffic in the city. They used the research and statistics to create a report that they submitted to city officials.

For samples and resources of curriculum projects that connect the classroom and the community, check out the following Internet websites, articles and books:

Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org

The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education www.nfie.org/publications/connecting.htm

The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse http://www.servicelearning.org

When, Where, What and How Youth Learn: Blurring School and Community Boundaries: new Directions for Youth Development #97
Karen J. Pittman, Nicole Yohalem, & Joel Tolman, Editors, (2003), Indianapolis, IN: Jossey-Bass.

Urban Education Partnership http://www.laep.org

Milbrey McLaughlin (2001). Community Counts, Educational Leadership, 58, 7, pp.14-18.

Shirley Brice Heath & Milbrey McLaughlin (1994). The Best of Both Worlds: Connecting Schools and Community Youth Organizations for All-Day, All-Year Learning. Educational Administration Quarterly, 30, 3, pp. 278-300.