Looking Beyond Themselves: Preparing Students to Become Invested Members of Their Community
Anne Pfitzner, Soldotna Elementary School
with Desiree Pointer, Thomas Hatch, and Toru Iiyoshi, The Carnegie Foundation
"I think we really inspired them!"
-Jayme, 6th grade, Soldotna Elementary

It was an important meeting, the kind where all the chairs and desks are pushed to the side. It was a meeting where I had to introduce an idea in such a way that would peak their interest, enough so that they would make it their own. By the end of that meeting it felt as if a weight had been lifted. They were inspired, I just needed to provide a bit of direction.
As a sixth grade teacher I had stuggled to find a way to truly reach my students. How could I help these students find a deeper connection to what they were learning, allowing the ownership piece to occur? Could a project based on community activism really help them escape the cliques and disconnectedness so common to sixth graders in our school?
This year as part of my Carnegie research project, I have documented the journey of my students and I as we identified and addressed a need in our community. This web page is being designed to reveal the pedagogical strategies I as a teacher used to allow these students the opportunity to feel true ownership of their learning. But more importantly, I have organized this web page to highlight key turning points in the process of watching eleven and twelve year olds grow from passive learners to inspired citizens. Click to read an introductory essay to this project, a reflective essay on the Kenai River, and information regarding the piece of land we worked with, or click for a 13-minute video overview of this project.

Go to my IdeaBank