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The High School Journal

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How can you integrate community resources in the classroom in an exciting and dynamic way? We set out to answer this question in the summer of 1999 when we attended a conference sponsored by the North Carolina Institute of Government. Our immediate goal was to help the freshmen students we teach in a course called ELPSA (Economic, Legal and Political Systems in Action) understand the importance of active citizenship and prudent fiscal decision making. What better way to teach this than through real life examples? After our conference and the introduction to a number of valuable resources and contact points in the community, we were inspired to design a unit that would spark students' interest while dearly furthering the course of study outlined by the curriculum. Secondly, we wanted to integrate community leaders in a way that allowed them to share their knowledge with students without simply lecturing to them, a sure way to lose teenage interest. Finally, we wanted student learning to go beyond the classroom in a culminating activity that would allow them to share their newly gained knowledge with an outside audience. The ultimate result was a unit entitled "A Local Government Issue: Why Can't I Go To School With You? A Look at School Assignment and Redistricting."