Schools that Change Communities profiles a diverse group of public schools that are successfully creating higher achieving students in a different way -- by turning the communities where they live into their classrooms.
The film re-imagines what education can be, visiting K-12 public schools in five states across America that are engaging students in learning by solving real-world problems in a variety of communities, from economically and environmentally challenged rural areas to poverty-stricken urban neighborhoods.
High school students in Howard, SD, build an interdisciplinary curriculum around a plan to save the town's struggling economy. In a Boston neighborhood with a high level of crime and poverty, students learn to connect the dots between what their community seems to the outside world and what it might become. In a small Appalachian town, elementary school students help clean up an adjacent stream polluted by acid mine drainage from former coal mines. In Watsonville, CA, high school students studying Roosevelt's New Deal try to come up with a New Deal for their farming community. In Cottage Grove, OR, students help create a sustainable environment, while learning valuable science, engineering and math lessons.
In the film, administrators, teachers, students and local residents discuss their projects and the value they find in place- and community-based education -- an interdisciplinary approach which emphasizes hands-on, curiosity-based investigation using surrounding neighborhoods as "living" classrooms. By confronting and solving real-world issues in their hometowns, students become more engaged in the learning process and develop a stronger sense of civic responsibility and pride. Plus, the local communities benefit, as well.
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