About the Curriculum

Lessons Overview

From the free Civic Action Project (CAP) curriculum, you will first teach three simple lessons that are tied to government/civics content. These lessons provide content that students will need to start their own CAP projects. Once students start working on their own CAP issues, you will teach two more lessons that focus on policy analysis. The curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects and supports the C3 Framework’s four dimensions. 

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Lessons 1 through 5

These core lessons provide students with key content and skills they need to choose an issue and begin taking civic actions.

Lesson 1: A Different Kind of Government Course introduces students to the Civic Action Project (CAP) as a practicum for their government course. To help students understand CAP’s rationale, they first discuss why government is a required course and then brainstorm knowledge, skills, attitudes, and actions of effective, productive citizens.

Lesson 2: Introduction to Public Policy introduces the link between policy and First, students read and discuss a short article defining policy. Then they discuss policy and its connection to problems. Next, in small groups, they do a newspaper search to find examples of public policy.

Lesson 3: Problems, Policy, and Civic Actions gives students further background in problems, policy, and civic action to prepare them for CAP. Students analyze problems in terms of causes and effects. Next, they explore how policy can be linked to problems. Finally, they list possible civic actions that can be taken when working on a problem. At the end of Lesson 3, the CAP Proposal from the Planner is assigned. Students will propose an issue they want to work on and convince their teacher that this issue is worthy of a CAP project. This launches the project-based learning component of CAP.

Lesson 4: Introducing Policy Analysis helps students develop a deeper understanding of public policy and the interaction between government and citizens in making policy. They look at case studies and are introduced to policy analysis.

Lesson 5: Policymaking in the Three Branches of Government introduces students to executive, legislative, and judicial policymaking and to policy evaluation. First, students discuss how policy can be made by each of the branches. Then they read about and discuss how the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance to suppress gang activity and how each branch of government was involved in the policy. Finally, students are introduced to GRADE, a policy-analysis rubric and apply it to the gang ordinance.

Lessons 6 through 15

These supplemental lessons provide additional skill-building and U.S. government content as students continue their projects.

Lesson 6: Analyzing Anti-Gang Policies provides students with practice in analyzing policy. First, as a whole group, they evaluate an anti-gang policy using GRADE. Then in small groups, they are given policies that address gang violence and they evaluate each.

Lesson 7: Policymaking at the Local Level gets students to examine an instance of policymaking at a school board, one of the most common institutions at the local level. First, students read about and discuss a common local (and national) problem, the dropout rate. Then they role play subcommittees of a hypothetical school board, examine documents about the dropout problem, and craft a policy to address the dropout problem. Finally, they exchange policies with other groups and evaluate one another’s policies using the GRADE rubric.

Lesson 8: Law & Policy informs students about how existing law can influence public policy and policymaking. First, students read about and discuss how existing law can influence public policy.Then in small groups, they role play members of a public policy law firm and decide whether a policy of evicting renters violates existing law and whether a new law is needed to protect renters.

Lesson 9: Persuading introduces students to the art of persuasion. First, they read about and discuss the three types of persuasion: logos, ethos, and pathos. Then students prepare two-minute persuasive talks on why the issue that they have chosen to address in CAP is important. Finally, in pairs, students present and critique one another’s talks.

Lesson 10: Building Constituencies introduces students to the importance of gaining support to impact public policies. First, students complete a brief reading about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Next, they examine documents created during the boycott and identify the civic actions taken to help build constituencies. Finally, in small groups, students brainstorm how they can get support for their CAP issue.

Lesson 11: Setting the Public Agenda introduces students to the public agenda and its importance to policy. First, students read about and discuss the public agenda and ways that citizens can influence it. Then in small groups, students are given different situations and they develop strategic plans for getting their issues or solutions to issues on the public agenda.

Lesson 12: Using the Media helps students learn about the importance of the media in setting the public agenda. First, they read about and discuss how the media help set the public agenda and how citizens can influence the media and even create their own media to help change the public agenda. Then they develop a plan to do one action to use or affect the media. Finally, they begin to implement their plan. As homework, they complete their action.

Lesson 13: Persuading Policymakers informs students that legislative and executive bodies often hold public hearing and how students can make effective presentations at these hearings. First, students read about public hearings and techniques for making presentations at these hearings. Then students role play a city council and people appearing before it attempting to persuade policymakers on hypothetical issues.

Lesson 14: Creating Change Through the Electoral Process focuses on electoral politics and how it deeply influences policymaking. First, students read about and discuss the role that electoral politics plays in policymaking. Then in small groups, students role play campaign workers and create strategies to attract young people to participate in an election campaign.

newLesson 15: Civic Action Survey provides students with an opportunity to discuss and examine the importance of surveys to measure public opinion about their CAP problem or issue. First, students will form pairs to take turns conducting and responding to a sample survey. Next students will learn about the types of questions that should be included in a survey. Finally students will convene in their civic action groups to brainstorm three different types of questions as the basis for their own civic action survey. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________economics

Introduce Students to the Link Between Economics and Public Policy

In this lesson, students first discuss making decisions in terms of trade-offs and opportunity costs. Then, students read and discuss a short article on doing cost-benefit analyses, using the minimum wage as a case study. In small groups, students conduct their own cost-benefit analysis of policy proposals that addresses local issues. More. . .

Planner

The CAP Planner is a set of documents that guide students through the processes of choosing a problem, taking civic actions, and preparing a report on their CAP project. The CAP Planners are aligned to Common Core State Standards for writing in history/social studies. Students also keep track of sources they used throughout their CAP project. For each Planner page the students write and organize new information:

Proposal: Students prepare a proposal to persuade you that the problem/issue they want to work on is worthy of a long-term project.
Thinking it Through: Students analyze causes/effects and propose their first civic action for your approval.
Civic Action: Students report on their last civic action, track the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they gained, and propose their next civic action for your approval. (Most teachers assign at least four Civic Action Planners.)
Report: Students discuss the civic actions they took and the impact they made on their selected problem/issue, reflect on their own learning.

Viewing and Reviewing the Planners

Once students click “submit” on a planner document, you can chose to be notified via email. If you prefer not to grade online, with one click, your students can create a PDF or print their Planner documents.

CAP Scope and Sequence: Quarter Model

TEACHER CHECKLIST

LESSONS AND ASSIGNMENTS

Week 1: Getting Started

  • Teach lessons 1–3.
  • CAP web site overview.
  • Facilitate formation of Civic Action Groups.
  • Introduce CAP Planner.
  • Assign, collect, and assess Project Proposal.

Lesson 1: A Different Kind of Government Course

  • Citizenship Brainstorm

Lesson 2: Introduction to Public Policy

  • Newspaper Search

Lesson 3: Problems, Policy, and Civic Actions

  • Causes & Effects
  • Form Civic Action Groups.


CAP Planner

  • Complete Project Proposal

Week 2: Student Civic Actions

  • Teach lessons 4 and 5.
  • Assign, collect, and assess Thinking it Through.
  • Assign Civic Action #1.

Lesson 4: Introducing Policy Analysis

  • Case Study Analysis.

Lesson 5: Policymaking in the Three Branches of Government

  • Students apply GRADE policy evaluation rubric.

CAP Planner

  • Complete Thinking it Through
  • Complete Civic Action #1

Weeks 3 & 4: Web Citizens

  • Collect and assess Civic Action #1 using the CAP Planner.
  • Assign, collect, and assess Civic Actions #2 and #3.
  • Students share civic experiences on the CAP web site (Connect).
__________________


Recommended Optional Lessons *

  • Teach lessons 7 and 8.
Online Activities
  • Students share their CAP experiences.
  • Peer Consultation(s): online or face-to-face.

CAP Planner

  • CompleteCivic Actions #2 and #3.
__________________


Lesson 7: Policymaking at the Local Level*

  • School board subcommittees craft a policy to address the dropout rate (role-play).

Lesson 8: Law & Policy*

  • Public policy law firm decides whether policy violates existing laws (role-play).

Week 5 & 6: Student Assessment

  • Assign, collect, and assess Civic Action #4 and CAP Report.
  • Complete online Teacher and Student surveys.
  • CAP Culmination Activities.
Final Steps
  • Teacher and Student Surveys.
  • Students can visit the CAP homepage for instructions on how to create their own award-winning CAP Multimedia Contest entries.

CAP Planner

  • Complete Civic Action #4 and >CAP Report.

CAP Scope and Sequence: Semester Model

TEACHER CHECKLIST

LESSONS AND ASSIGNMENTS

Month 1: Getting Started  

  • Register yourself and students.  

Teach lessons 1–3. 

  • Facilitate formation of Civic Action Groups. 
  • Introduce CAP Planners.¨ 
  • Assign, review, and approve completed Project Proposals.
Lesson 1: A Different Kind of Government Course
  • Citizenship Brainstorm
Lesson 2: Introduction to Public Policy
  • Print and online media search
Lesson 3: Problems, Policy, and Civic Actions
  • Causes & Effects
  • Form Civic Action Groups.
CAP Planners
    • Project Proposal

Month 2: Student Civic Actions 

  • Teach lessons 4 and 5.  
  • Assign, review, and approve Thinking it Through planner. 
  • Assign, collect, and approve Civic Actions #1 and #2.

__________________ ­ 

Optional Lesson  

Lesson 4: Introducing Policy Analysis
  • Case Study Analysis
Lesson 5: Policymaking in the Three Branches of Government
  • Students apply GRADE policy evaluation rubric.
CAP Planners
  • Thinking it Through
  • Civic Actions #1 and #2

__________________

Lesson 7: Policymaking at the Local Level*

  • School board subcommittees craft a policy to address the dropout rate (role-play).

Month 3: Web Citizens  

  • Students Connect to share their civic experiences. 
  • Assign, collect, and approve Civic Actions #3 and #4.

__________________­ 

Optional Lesson 

  • Teach lesson 10: Building Constituencies 
Peer Consultation
  • CAP groups consult with each other to share success, challenges, and next steps.
  • Students Connect with CAP Youth Board (CYB) to Discuss their CAP experiences.
CAP Planners
  • Civic Actions #3 and #4
  • ­Lesson 10: Building Constituencies
    • Students use primary-sources about the Montgomery Bus Boycott to examine a variety of discrete civic actions to build constituencies.

Month 4: Student Assessment 

  • Assign, collect, and approve Project Reports. 
  • Complete Teacher Survey. 
  • CAP Showcase

Capturing the Experience
  • Students visit Contests page for instructions on how to create and submit their “public product.”
  • Complete student surveys.
CAP Planners
  • Project Report

 


* Optional lessons can be delivered according to teacher discretion and student need or interest.

Teacher Resources

Resources to help you guide your students through the CAP process and give them information to understand the connections between their CAP issue, civic actions, and public policy.

Student Resources
Resources to help students through the CAP process.

Web Citizens

The CAP website is designed to engage students in public conversations about their issues and civic actions.

Assessment

Assessment should focus on the amount and quality of independent critical thinking; policy analysis; and students’ abilities to identify, seek out, and communicate effectively with people who can help them impact the issue they are working on.

Culminating Activities

In addition to the assessment tools provided by CAP, teachers have developed assignments that provide students with opportunities to present and celebrate their civic actions.

Last modified: Sunday, 15 October 2017, 7:50 PM