Back to School!

Aug 15, 2017 / E-news

School is almost back in session and there are plenty of tools and resources available for students and teachers at the Center for Civic Education! Lead your civics, history, and government classes with the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution textbooks and curriculum at elementary, middle, and high school levels; free lesson plans on specific subjects; or encourage civic engagement with Project Citizen.
The more you explore the Center’s website, the more resources you will find. The 60-Second Civics podcast offers brief lessons and a daily civics quiz that can begin class each day. Free lesson plans on topics ranging from Presidents’ Day to Women’s History Month make it easy to explain history to students. Or, engage with the class using the We the People enhanced ebooks that offer extras like videos and explanations to hold students’ interest.
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The new school year is here and there are plenty of tools and resources available for students and teachers at the Center for Civic Education! The more you explore the Center’s website, the more resources you will find. The 60-Second Civics podcast offers brief lessons on the Constitution and includes a Daily Civics Quiz, which can get your students ready to learn each day. The Center offers free lesson plans for two important teachable anniversaries coming up this September: the 9/11 attacks and Constitution Day (September 17). You can energize your classroom with our extensive selection of free lesson plans for K-12 students. Read the rest of this entry »

We the People Teachers Win American Lawyers Alliance Teachers of the Year Award

Aug 14, 2017 / E-news, We the People

Each year, the American Lawyers Alliance (ALA) recognizes three teachers of law-related education as the American Lawyers Alliance Teachers of the Year. At this year’s awards breakfast and ceremony on August 11, 2017 in the Yale Club of New York, the winners celebrated came from a broad section of the country, from the Ozarks to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The middle school winner is Cherese Smith from Ozark Junior High School (Ozark, Arkansas). The high school winners are David Alcox, Milford High School (Milford, New Hampshire) and Fred Cole, Marquette High School (Marquette, Michigan). The presidents of the Bar Associations from Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Michigan attended and spoke on behalf of these amazing teachers. Each winner received $1500 and spoke at the ceremony about the programs they have implemented at their schools.
This is especially exciting for the Center for Civic Education, as Fred Cole has been involved with the James Madison Legacy Project as a mentor teacher and David Alcox won the American Civic Education Teacher Award from the Center in 2013.
The American Lawyers Alliance is a charitable and educational nonprofit that aims to foster understanding and respect for the American legal system and preserve democracy through citizenship education. For information on the 2018 Teacher of the Year awards, please visit www.americanlawyersalliance.org/annual-awards.

Each year, the American Lawyers Alliance recognizes three teachers of law-related education as the American Lawyers Alliance Teachers of the Year. At this year’s awards breakfast and ceremony on August 11 in the Yale Club of New York, the winners celebrated came from a broad section of the country, from the Ozarks to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Read the rest of this entry »

Declaration Resources Project Curates Content for Teachers’ Use in the Classroom

Aug 09, 2017 / E-news

When teaching students about the Declaration of Independence, there are a variety of valuable resources that can be found for free on the website of the Declaration Resources Project. The project curates content about the Declaration of Independence, teaching the origins and history of the document while providing research highlights and learning tools. A plethora of printable resources and insights about the Declaration’s importance and role in American history can be found on the Project’s website, as well as fresh takes on the document by scholars. Read the rest of this entry »

National Academy Cultivates Environment of Scholarship for Civics Teachers

Aug 07, 2017 / E-news, National Academy for Civics and Government, Professional Development

“I couldn’t imagine spending July any other way. What a fabulous experience for my life, mind, and teaching.” These are the words of a participant at the Center’s National Academy for Civics and Government, which was conducted at Occidental College July 8–29 under the scholarly direction of Professor Will Harris of the University of Pennsylvania. Visiting scholars included Professor Steven Bilakovics, Dr. Kevin Ryan, and John Swaine, the CEO of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. The “preceptors,” or mentor teachers, were Kevin Fox, Shellee O’Brien, and Keith Gall.
The National Academy is an intensive, three-week study of the content of political and constitutional theory as well as its applications to the participants’ professional lives. The National Academy participants are elementary or secondary school teachers from across the country who were selected in a competitive review process.
The National Academy readings are drawn from important primary and secondary sources, and can be viewed in their entirety on the content outline link on the Center’s website. Perhaps the best way to understand its profound effects on the participants is to read their own words:
“I learned way more than I can acknowledge right now. I thank y’all so much for an amazing experience. It changed my life. Keep asking the hard questions!”
“This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life! I have completely reassessed the way I view the world.”
“Will was so flexible. He has a great mind and is a great teacher! I got a ton of teaching ideas. Will is a great example of a citizen. I am so grateful for the environment of scholarship during the three weeks.”
“Will creates not only a framework for understanding constitutional history and philosophy but a constitutional way of thinking and discussion. This is incredibly valuable for teachers of American history and politics (and I imagine teachers of other subjects as well).”
“Wow, what an honor and a privilege to be here. This has genuinely been amazing. I hope I can continue to study, think, and talk on this level.”
“I appreciated deeply the opportunity to engage in constitutional theory. This kind of thinking is a luxury in the day-to-day experiences of my teaching.”
Center Associate Director John Hale attested to the excellence of the faculty and participants, noting that he had “never seen a more cohesive group of participants over the past two decades in which the National Academy has been offered. They continue to stay in close touch via their Facebook site as well as on www.politicolor.com. I believe them when they say the National Academy will greatly enhance their teaching.”

“I couldn’t imagine spending July any other way. What a fabulous experience for my life, mind, and teaching.” These are the words of a participant at the Center’s National Academy for Civics and Government, which was conducted at Occidental College July 8–29 under the scholarly direction of Professor Will Harris of the University of Pennsylvania. Visiting scholars included Professor Steven Bilakovics, Dr. Kevin Ryan, and John Swaine, the CEO of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. The “preceptors,” or mentor teachers, were Kevin Fox, Shellee O’Brien, and Keith Gall. Read the rest of this entry »

JMLP Summer Institutes Train Teachers in Civic Education

Jul 13, 2017 / E-news, James Madison Legacy Project

James Madison Legacy Project summer institutes are in full swing this summer, engaging teachers in civics-oriented professional development courses across the country. Our week-long workshops serve teachers from schools serving high-needs populations in the We the People curriculum that encourages civic engagement and an informed citizenry. These institutes are part of a larger initiative to enhance the knowledge and skills of civics and government teachers who are steadfast in promoting student achievement across the nation.

JMLP Florida Summer Institute participants in the Florida Legislature Committee Hearing Room where they conducted their simulated congressional hearing

JMLP Florida Summer Institute participants in the Florida Legislature Committee Hearing Room where they conducted their simulated congressional hearing

JMLP sites provide either the traditional We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution professional development course or the Center’s new blended-learning variation of the traditional model. This new blended model provides participants with an interactive online course facilitated by educators trained in the curriculum.

Participants interact with lawyers, judges, state and local representatives, and professors of law, history, and political science who provide expert knowledge to our teacher/students. These guest speakers bring context and real-life experiences in their respective fields to make the content even more engaging. In Florida, for instance, participants worked with Justice Lawson of the Florida Supreme Court and regional directors for Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. One group of JMLP teachers in Virginia visited James Madison’s Montpelier, a plantation house of the Madison family to see colonial history up-close and outside of the classroom.

JMLP VA-MD-DC-WV Summer Institute visiting the Montpelier grounds in Virginia

JMLP VA-MD-DC-WV Summer Institute visiting the Montpelier grounds in Virginia

The blended model also includes videos featuring experts from across the country discussing topics that correlate with the We the People curriculum. All of the summer institutes conclude with a simulated congressional hearing where teachers work in teams to research and prepare testimonials about a unit of the textbook. They answer questions related to their assigned topics, displaying the knowledge and critical thinking skills that they have developed through the summer institute.

No matter the model implemented, JMLP teachers come away with more content knowledge and strategies to help them feel confident about using the We the People curriculum in their classrooms. If you participated in a JMLP summer institute, check out our Flickr page for more photos.

Civitas Bosnia and Herzegovina Holds Democracy Summer Camp

Jul 06, 2017 / Civitas International Programs, E-news

Nearly 400 students, teachers, trainers, and young artists gathered in Brcko, Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Civitas five-day summer camp from June 28 to July 2, 2017. Civitas BiH, the Center’s Civitas International Programs partner, organized the event, which included educational workshops, games and sports, and musical and artistic courses.

The democracy summer camp is the final Civitas BiH activity of every school year, and the camp is co-hosted by the Public Affairs Bureau of the United States, the Brcko mayor’s office, and the Brcko Department of Education. Drew Giblin, the U.S. Embassy attaché for culture and education, opened the program with Professor Senad Osmanovic, a Civitas alumnus and head of the Brcko Government Office for Education, and Professor Stjepan Marcetic, Brcko Mayor Advisor for education.

The camp held educational classes, artistic workshops, and games for its participants.

The camp held educational classes, artistic workshops, and games for its participants.

The program was designed for students at all educational levels. For example, elementary school students attended a class on the prevention of social exclusion, a cooking workshop, and a healthy food course. High school students attended a class on youth entrepreneurship and visited the Brcko Port. Students of all ages participated in art-making activities where they created 22 short films on local government policies for social inclusion and empowerment of local businesses.

This year’s camp also held workshops for art, dance, and acting as part of the camp’s Art Corner. Young professional artists, actors, and dancers led artistic workshops for all students and at the end of the camp, students performed Dance for Activism choreography of the Radetzky March.

Civitas BiH was founded in 1996 as an initiative of the Center for Civic Education, the United States Information Agency, and the Council of Europe. The organization works to educate and inform the young people of Bosnia and Herzegovina about democratic principles so that they may actively engage in their government. The 2017 summer camp is just one example of their highly effective youth development programs. Among others, Civitas BiH hosts and develops youth democracy camps and homestay exchanges, lessons on interculturalism, and a Project Citizen program.

Almost 400 students, teachers, trainers, and young artists gathered in Br?ko, Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Civitas five-day summer camp from June 28 to July 2, 2017. Civitas BiH, the Center’s Civitas International Programs partner, organized the event, which included educational workshops, games and sports, and musical and artistic courses.
The democracy summer camp is the final Civitas BiH activity of every school year, and the camp is co-hosted by the Public Affairs Bureau of the United States, the Br?ko mayor’s office, and the Br?ko Department of Education. Drew Giblin, the U.S. Embassy attaché for culture and education, opened the program with Professor Senad Osmanovic, Civitas alumni and head of the Br?ko Government Office for Education, and Professor Stjepan Marcetic, Br?ko Mayor Advisor for education.
The program was designed for students at all educational levels. Elementary school students attended, for instance, a class on the prevention of social exclusion, a cooking workshop, and a healthy food course. High school students attended a class on youth entrepreneurship and visited the Br?ko Port. Students of all ages participated in art-making activities where they created 22 short films on local government policies for social inclusion and empowerment of local businesses.
This year’s camp also held workshops for art, dance, and acting as part of the camp’s Art Corner. Young professional artists, actors, and dancers led artistic workshops for all students and at the end of the camp, students performed Dance for Activism choreography of the Radetzky march.
Civitas BiH was founded in 1996 as an initiative of the Center for Civic Education, the United States Information Agency, and the Council of Europe. The organization works to educate and inform the young people of Bosnia and Herzegovina about democratic principles so that they may actively engage in their government. The 2017 summer camp is just one example of their highly effective youth development programs. Among others, Civitas BiH hosts and develops youth democracy camps and homestay exchanges, lessons on interculturalism, and a Project Citizen program.

Civitas Bosnia and Herzegovina Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Project Citizen Finals Showcase

Jun 08, 2017 / Civitas International Programs, Project Citizen

Nearly four hundred students, teachers, and young artists participated in the 20th annual Project Citizen Finals in Bosnia and Herzegovina this year, presenting public policy portfolios that represented thirty-five elementary and high schools. The event was hosted by Civitas Bosnia and Herzegovina (Civitas BiH)–a Civitas International Programs partner–as well as the U.S. Embassy Sarajevo Office for Public Affairs and the state government Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Students show their understanding of public policy by applying it to issues that affect their lives and communities.

Students show their understanding of public policy by applying it to issues that affect their lives and communities.

Participants assembled in the Great Hall of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday, May 20, as Paul Horowitz, the United States Deputy Chief of Mission, declared the opening of the showcase. Other notable attendees were Leah Pease, head of the U.S. Embassy Office for Public Affairs; Rahela Dzidic, the U.S. Embassy education specialist; Adnan Husic, Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs; Predrag Damjanovic, head of the Republika Srpska Pedagogical Institute; and, Zoran Matosevic, Deputy Minister of the Middle Bosnia Ministry of Education.

Project Citizen teaches students the fundamentals of democracy at all academic levels and provides practical ways for young people to participate as responsible citizens. Students identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or national authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project in a public hearing showcase before a panel of civic-minded community members. Students often contact public officials and attempt to convince them to adopt their policy proposal.

In this year’s showcase, students explored social problems and advocated for their resolution by suggesting changes to public policy. Project Citizen is one of the many programs led by Civitas BiH. Since its establishment in 1996 as a joint initiative of the Center for Civic Education, Civitas BiH has been viewed as a leader in civic education. The academic and training materials developed by Civitas BiH are the only materials in the official curricula in use by all ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s elementary and high schools. With interculturalism as a focus, Civitas BiH organizes multiethnic youth democracy camps, homestay exchanges, volunteer activities, and school lessons to create a democratic culture in schools.

Although the Project Citizen Finals weekend was drawn to a close by Drew Giblin, the U.S. Embassy Attaché for Culture and Education, Civitas BiH continues to promote the goals of increasing civic education and creating a willingness in young people to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflict.

Maggie Walker Governor’s School Places First in We the People National Finals

May 22, 2017 / We the People

The Center for Civic Education celebrated 30 years of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program with the 2017 We the People National Finals, held April 21–24 on Capitol Hill and at a new location: the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia.

Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School placed first in the 30th Annual We the People National Finals.

Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School placed first in the 30th Annual We the People National Finals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fishers Junior High School Takes Top Honors at the We the People National Invitational

May 22, 2017 / We the People

More than 250 middle school students from across the country competed in the Fifth Annual We the People National Invitational, held April 28–May 1 at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia. The competition tested students’ knowledge of the Constitution and the fundamental principles of American government. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Bull Named Colorado Civic Educator of the Year

May 22, 2017 / We the People

We the People teacher  Victoria Bull was recently presented with the 2017 Governor’s Award: Colorado Civic Educator of the Year by Colorado Assistant Commissioner of Education Leanne Emm on behalf of Governor John Hickenlooper. The award is sponsored by Civic Canopy. Read the rest of this entry »