The use of the urban agenda model in your classroom is an exceptional tool for making your lessons personally relevant to students. While the UA model does address and assist in the instruction of MEAPs strands and the State ofMichigan social studies benchmarks, it also allows students a personal connection to each lesson, regardless of discipline. The use of the agenda building process brings the student’s issue of concern to the forefront of any lesson. By choosing the issue themselves, students have a personal stake in their lesson. This provides a pivotal focus that makes the lessons directly relevant to the students.  This is often inspires the students to learn the disciplinary knowledge and tools for effectively mastering of any subject. Additionally, as students learn how to incorporate the disciplinary knowledge with various issues, they learn the critical thinking skills essential in test taking and, more importantly, life-long learning.  

Hence, as a teacher you can then teach any social studies/humanities subject to students, yet each student addresses the lesson through the lens of their issue. The Urban Agenda model can be recycled within the same class. Every grading period can begin with the agenda building questions in order to foster new student issues and deeper involvement in the lessons.  Or student’s can continue on the issue that they began, delving deeper into the issue and championing the issue for a fuller understanding.  

Also, the issue developed in one subject can be reintroduced in other disciplines. That is, if a student who has taken an issue and evaluated it critically using the tools of Economics, might find the issue useful in the study of World History or Geography. Certainly, the ability to be creative with the analysis of an issue using the context of a discipline is required; however, if students have found an issue that truly is of personal concern, then they will explore the issue in limitless contexts –often in hopes to not only understand the issue, but hopefully find insight into eventual resolution.

When students choose their own issue, they are motivated to learn.  The quest for understanding the issue is the compass to learning the discipline.  The disciplinary knowledge is the map and supplies for the journey.  The following examples are ways in which you can use the Urban Agenda in any social studies course.  There  are included in the online curriculum section two lessons (Definitions & Agenda Building) that can assist the teacher in getting students to center on issues that are important to them.  There is also a supplemental writing lesson that can be used to practice research, writing and critical thinking skills and another lesson, Utopian School , to facilitate localized, school issues agendas.  These lessons can be used in conjunction with any lesson in any discipline.  Finally, we have included a section on how the Urban Agenda addresses the MEAPs and the benchmarks of the examination.

American Government

American History




World History