Civitas Lessons on Democracy Print

Overview


The Civitas Lessons on Democracy are a collection of lessons for young people from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The twenty-nine lessons and units of study in this collection provide an international perspective on basic concepts of democracy and engage students in activities that develop skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. The lessons focus on the concepts of the Foundations of Democracy curricular program: authority, justice, privacy, responsibility, and rights. A table with links to the lessons is below.

The Center for Civic Education (Center) and its Civitas International Programs partners developed the Civitas Lessons on Democracy in a collaborative effort under 2010–2012 Civitas: An International Civic Education Exchange Program grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
More than sixty-five civic educators from thirty-three countries and twenty-seven U.S. states contributed to the development of the lessons.

Each lesson was authored by a partnership between U.S. and non-U.S. organizations and reflects the original ideas of the Civitas partners. The Center provided each partner with a general lesson template and guidelines for lesson development, and each partnership developed its own unique lesson content.
The Center has reviewed each lesson. However, no fine editing has been conducted. The Center and its partners welcome you to teach the lessons and provide feedback to us at international@civiced.org using the Lesson Plan Feedback Form.

The Center would like to thank its Civitas partners, lesson reviewer David Moorhouse, and all staff and organizations who contributed to the Civitas Lessons on Democracy project. Special thanks to former and current Center staff members including Jack Hoar, Mark Gage, Becky MacFarlane, Alissa Irion, David Hargrove, and Michelle Costa.

The Lessons

The Civitas Lessons on Democracy are provided below and are organized by grade level. Each link includes a single lesson or a unit with several lessons. The lessons are content-rich and call for the use of interactive teaching methodologies. The lessons include alignment to applicable content standards. The lesson authors also provide ideas for enrichment, assessment, and how the lessons can be extended.

The Civitas Lessons on Democracy are intended for nonprofit classroom or youth group use only. No other use of the lessons is permitted without the specific written permission of the copyright holder. Posting the lessons to any website is strictly prohibited. To request permission to use a lesson for any other purpose, please view the copyright information on the individual lesson.
Lesson Title Grade Level Lesson Description Partnership
Poetic Justice Pre-K-2 Students collaborate to create a two-voice poem about justice. Michigan, Oklahoma, Colorado, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic
We are Poetry Pre-K-2 Students work in a group to create a "We Are" poem about responsibility. Michigan, Oklahoma, Colorado, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic
Skogs 1-3 The class will read Kellogg's Island of the Skog and discuss the "push-pull effect" on migration and the key components of democratic government. Connecticut, Chile
What is Responsibility? 3 The lesson introduces students to the concept of responsibility. By examining a number of examples, along with non-examples, students will construct a definition of the concept that contains its essential attributes. American Federation of Teachers, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Kansas, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, West Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan
Give Me Justice 3-5 Students create a descriptive paragraph about each of the different types of justice. Michigan, Oklahoma, Colorado, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic
Dear Sir 3-5 Students create a letter to a community leader about how he/she can impact the surrounding community. Michigan, Oklahoma, Colorado, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic
Comparing Due Process Protections in the U.S. and Croatian Constitutions 5 The lesson describes the relationship between due process and the rule of law. It asks students to identify and evaluate how due process rights are applied and to compare due process protections in the U.S. and Croatian constitutions and the limits these protections place on the government. Attachment: Vocabulary Cards. Oregon, Maryland, Delaware, Croatia
Cyber-bullying 5-8 An interactive civic education lesson on cyber-bullying. Illinois, Iowa, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
Comparing Constitutions 6-8 Students examine constitutions from different democracies around the world to compare and contrast their functions. Missouri, Alabama, Ohio, Poland, Ukraine, Morocco, South Africa
Democracy: Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens 6-8 Students analyze key terms of a democracy through participation in an interactive small group lesson. Attachments: 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3, 4A, 4B, 5. Texas, New Mexico, Costa Rica
Rumpelstiltskin v. Queen - Case of Breach of Contract 6-8 Students examine a Grimm's fairy tale to determine whether there was a breach of contract. Florida, Mississippi, Hungary, Romania, Panama, Peru
The Rules We Live By? 6-8 Students analyze rules outlined in their school handbook. Florida, Mississippi, Hungary, Romania, Panama, Peru
What is Civic Responsibility? 6-8 Students work with an international student survey on what it means to be a good citizen. In the process, they learn to associate certain behaviors with responsibility, explore their own beliefs about civic responsibility, and compare their beliefs with those of students around the world. American Federation of Teachers, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Kansas, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, West Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan
When Should You Speak Up? 6-8 Standing up for one's convictions is an important character trait for citizens in a democracy. This lesson uses fiction and a historical example to create an opportunity for students to analyze and develop this trait. Attachments: 1, 2, 3. Alaska, East Russia, Nigeria, Mauritius
Lobbying and Advocacy 6-9 Students search for a remedy to an outrageous school dress code using tried and true democratic principals. Attachment: "Lobbying and Advocacy" PowerPoint. Missouri, Alabama, Ohio, Poland, Ukraine, Morocco, South Africa
Comparing Constitutions and Promoting Human Rights 6-12 This lesson provides a comparative review of the United States Constition, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the constitutions of Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal; historical context; connections with current events; and the opportunity to take and defend a position on which rights and responsibilities are the most important. New Jersey, Senegal, Serbia
Free Association 6-12 Students examine stereotyping and making judgments about people. Florida, Mississippi, Hungary, Romania, Panama, Peru
Know it All? 6-12 This is a lesson for the first day of class that illustrates the dearth of knowledge of the Constitution and its history, provides a justification for the study of the Constitution, and establishes a baseline of knowledge that may later be used to show student progress. Texas, New Mexico, Costa Rica
Personal Constitutional Outline 6-12 Students learn how to outline and make their own outline of the U.S. Constitution. Texas, New Mexico, Costa Rica
What Makes a Nation? 6-12 This lesson provides a background regarding political theories of nationhood; a comparison of the basis of nationhood in the United States, France, Germany, and other nations; and an opportunity for students to take and defend a position on whether Kosovo should be an independent nation and to draw conclusions about what makes a nation. New Jersey, Senegal, Serbia
What's in a Word: the Definition of Democracy 6-12 Students become familiar with the concepts and terminology that will enable them to discuss democracy and its elements, forms, and applications. Texas, New Mexico, Costa Rica
Hansel and Gretel - Abuse of Power or a Failure of Authority? 7-9 Students analyze a Grimm's fairy tale and evaluate the major characters in terms of rights, responsibilities, power, and authority. Florida, Mississippi, Hungary, Romania, Panama, Peru
All Equal - All Different 9-12 Students examine minority rights issues. Florida, Mississippi, Hungary, Romania, Panama, Peru
Democracy, Constitutions, and Human Rights 9-12 Using primary sources, students work in groups to compare and contrast the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the constitutions of the United States, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Republic of Colombia, and the Republic of Ireland. Attachments: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Idaho, Colombia, Jordan, Ireland
Emerging Democracies in the 21st Century 9-12 This lesson provides a framework for understanding that both democracy and economic growth require an adherence to the rule of law and that there are many barriers in most African nations to self-government and economic growth. New Jersey, Senegal, Serbia
Justice is Blind 9-12 Students show where American democracy can be found in Article III of the Constitution and take and defend a position based on Article III and American principles of democracy and justice. Washington, China
Signers of the Constitution 9-12 This lesson provides a basic understanding of the circumstances surrounding the writing of the Constitution. Texas, New Mexico, Costa Rica
Sumak Kawsay = Good Life 9-12 Students will understand the conflict between personal rights and government responsibilities in both the United States and Ecuador, address the diffculty in balancing cultural traditions with societal needs, and evaluate the role citizens play in cultural preservation and evolution. Indiana, Wisconsin, Ecuador
What is the Relationship between the Responsibilities of Citizens and their Governments? 9-12 This unit introduces students to the power of political culture as a way of explaining concepts like responsibility. American Federation of Teachers, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Kansas, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, West Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan