A new school year has started and you are probably wondering where to get high-quality materials and resources for your civics classroom. The Center for Civic Education has the answer.
First, the free stuff: the Center offers a wide range of lesson plans at www.civiced.org. The Center’s Constitution Day page offers 21 free civics lesson plans for grades K-12 that explore the fundamental principles of American constitutional government. Constitution Day is celebrated every year on September 17.
The Center’s Lesson Plans page contains links to free lessons that can be used throughout the school year. Lesson plans range from the Center’s 9/11 and the Constitution curriculum, which challenges students to reflect on who they are as Americans and how our country might better realize its highest ideals, to lessons for Presidents’ Day, Black History Month, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Women’s History Month.
It’s never too early to engage your students in voter education, and Citizens, Not Spectators, the Center’s partnership with the Arsalyn Program of the Ludwick Family Foundation, has produced a wealth of hands-on voting lessons for students in grades 4-12. Students learn why they should vote, how to register to vote, and how to cast a ballot during a simulated election. Many of the lessons can be completed in only three days. All have been tested by teachers in rural, urban, and suburban schools in every region of the country.
The Center’s best-known civic education program is We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, a curriculum on constitutional principles and history that has been studied by more than 30 million students since its inception in 1987. Our internationally acclaimed We the People high school textbook has been transformed into an interactive enhanced ebook that can be read on nearly any device, from Macs and PCs to iPads and iPhones, Android tablets and phones, and Windows 8 touchscreen devices.
Student answers to the hundreds of short essay and multiple-choice exercises in critical thinking that come with the ebook are stored in a portfolio on the cloud. Both students and teachers can access these portfolios from almost any device. We the People is packed with images, videos, and fundamental documents that enhance student learning, and it includes an optional teacher/guide and built-in audio narration.
One facet of the program that sets We the People apart from other civics curricula is its culminating activity, the simulated congressional hearings. This is where the program enriches learning the most, as students prepare for, practice, and then answer questions about constitutional issues from a panel of notable community members. Middle and high school students have the option of engaging in competitive hearings with other schools, which are arranged with the help of volunteer state and district coordinators. National finals are held for middle and high schools every year in Washington, D.C. It’s an experience that has changed many students’ lives.
We the People textbooks are available in a wide variety of formats, including as hard copy classroom sets (30 student books and a wraparound teacher’s edition), the enhanced ebook for high school students, and as Apple, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, and Scribd ebooks for elementary, middle, and high school students.
This year, the Center’s popular 60-Second Civics is podcasting the entire middle school We the People textbook as a series of one-minute episodes. Teachers working their way through the curriculum can use the podcast as a warmup activity, engaging students with the Daily Civics Quiz that accompanies each episode.
Are you looking for a way to engage your students in finding public policy solutions for community problems? Project Citizen is a classroom-proven curriculum for upper elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students, youth organizations, and adult groups that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. Students identify a community problem, gather information, and develop a portfolio that explains the problem, examines alternative policies, proposes a public policy, and implements an action plan. Finally, students present their portfolio at simulated legislative hearings and reflect on what they have learned.
The Center constantly offers curricula and ideas that help teachers involve their students in the study of our nation’s Constitution and system of government. Visit www.civiced.org frequently for updates or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.
If you have questions about We the People or any of the Center’s curricular offerings, contact Robert Leming at 818-591-9321.