There are lots of ways to help students feel like school is more directly relevant to their lives (see The Best Ideas For Helping Students Connect Lessons To Their Interests & The World and THE BEST RESOURCES FOR LEARNING HOW TO USE PROJECT-BASED LEARNING & PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING IN YOUR CLASSROOM).
Creating situations where students and classes and engage directly in community improvement efforts is one way (The Best Resources Sharing The History Of Teens Organizing For Justice shares some useful models, and you might also be interested in The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change).
Here are some related ideas on how to do just that (it’s a short list – please let me know what I’m missing!):
Ways to ‘Break Down Walls Between Classroom & Community’ is a two-part series in my Ed Week column.
Using Community Challenges for Learning is from Edutopia.
A Transformational Art Project is from Peter Greene.
Ideas for English Language Learners | What Does It Mean to Be a Citizen? is a piece I wrote for The NY Times Learning Network.
Ideas for Student Civic Action in a Time of Social Uncertainty is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Engaging Youth in Civic Action Through Writing is from The Teaching Channel.
Guiding Students to See Themselves as Changemakers appeared in Edutopia.