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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Shifting Behavior through Engagement in Civic Projects
Charlene Davis

In my article about motivating boys, one undisputable fact among researchers is that boys need to be actively engaged in order to remain focused and motivated. Getting children involved in civic projects is a great way to bring activism into a curriculum. It is also a way for students to discover more about themselves. There may be hidden talents lying dormant, or new sources of inspiration may be discovered among youngsters. New York State’s Standards require children to read, write, listen, view, and speak for a variety of tasks. All of these behaviors are easily incorporated into projects involving outside organizations. We take field trips to augment what we do in the classroom for this very same reason, and most youngsters love these occasions!  They also love the opportunity to interact with others as they help make their environment a better place.

Here are some suggestions for ways to get students involved in the communities around them.

    Get involved in the local community!
    Reluctant writers often rethink their attitudes when they know they’ll have an outside audience. Similarly, a child displaying “social graces in need of improvement” gets a chance to work at this when involved with a different audience. The meaning and purpose behind assigned activities take on new meaning when real-world application occurs. So, scheduling read-in days at the local nursing home provides the opportunity to offer added cheer to the elderly; offers support to a disenchanted student; and further validates the hard work of the student. The youngster is able to really see that his work has value and purpose. Residences for the developmentally disabled might be another option for staged performances.

    Make it personal! Students can be asked to conduct “angled” interviews.
    In my article on boys, I also mentioned the book, We Beat the Streets, by Drs. Davis, Hunt and Sampson, with Sharon Draper. While reading it, I realized the power of the focused interview—Sharon Draper did a great job of bringing this out. Student interviews could be slanted to focus purely on behavior issues. The purpose would be to obtain personal viewpoints about how behavior and attitude affect one’s success in life. I would require several different interviews from each student, probably spaced out over time. An elder in the student’s family, an entrepreneur in their business community, a teacher, a neighbor, an administrator, or any other staff member of their choice could be interviewees. I would have students seek out the following information:

    Interviewee’s Name: ________________________    
    Interviewer’s Name: _________________________    Date :_____________________

    Do you consider education to be important? Why? What are your most fond memories of school? What advice do you have to share with me regarding my future? If you were to share a helpful quote or saying with me, what would it be? Why?

    What I have learned from this interview that is helpful for me?

    What immediate changes will I make in my life?


    Of course, anyone interviewed in the community should be approved by the students’ parents. After reviewing three or four of these interviews, and their findings, students should see some similarities—a thread—in the kinds of responses they’ve been given. The interpersonal exchange and the dedication of time taken by the other individual will likely speak volumes to the student’s sense of connectedness to others. It may also speak volumes to the student’s sense of purpose and place as a citizen of his community.

    As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me.


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