Elective Course Lesson Plans Overview (Middle School)

Lesson 1: What is an Effective Citizen?
This lesson introduces the Civic Action Project (CAP). To help students understand CAP’s rationale, students first discuss why civics is a required course. Then they brainstorm the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and actions of informed and effective citizens. Finally, students are introduced to the CAP assignment of addressing a problem or issue through informed civic actions.

Lesson 2: Drawing Your Community
In this lesson, students work in groups to make a drawing of their community with an emphasis on existing needs and resources. Each group shares their drawings to compile a class list of needs and resources. As an exploration activity, students gather opinions from other young people and adults about the needs and strengths of their community.

Lesson 3: The River (Day One)
This is the first day of a two-part lesson that demonstrates natural and human impact on an environment by examining changes in a hypothetical river system over time. On the first day, students will work in groups to solve a problem during one of four different eras. Each group will first read a short story, then role play a meeting where options for addressing their river problem will be explored. Next, the group must decide what it would do to solve the problem. An outline of the river hypothetical is included in this lesson to give you a quick overview of the four scenarios the students will be working with.

Lesson 3: The River (Day Two)
This is the second day of a two-part lesson. The lesson demonstrates natural and human impact on the environment by examining changes in a hypothetical river system over time. In the last lesson, students worked in groups to solve a hypothetical problem about a river during one of these eras. In this lesson, students will present their problems and solutions in chronological order, thus revealing a story of one river over time. Finally, students will discuss the parallels between their civic choices to solve problems along the river and the role of public policy to address needs and problems in towns and cities today.

Lesson 4: What is the Civic Action Project Website?
Lesson 4 introduces the Civic Action Project (CAP) website by having students work in groups and explore the CAP website for middle school students. Through this investigation, students will understand how they will become engaged in their community to solve a local issue they are concerned about.

Lesson 5: Exploring Issues and Problems
This lesson provides students with an understanding of the concept of cause and effect. Students will apply this concept to personal and community examples.

Lesson 6: Policy Introduction
In this lesson, students look at the link between policy and problems. First, students will read and discuss a short article defining policy. Then they will analyze policy scenarios to understand how to solve problems through policy and how policies can sometimes be the problem.

Lesson 7: Selecting an Issue
In this lesson, students will begin thinking about selecting their civic action issue. Students will break into small groups to do a multimedia news search on public policy using newspapers, magazines, television news, or online news sources. Finally, they will brainstorm problems they would like to address, potential solutions, and potential actions.

Lesson 8: Project Proposal Planner
In this lesson, students are introduced to the Project Proposal Planner and challenged to convince their teacher that the problem, issue, or policy they want to try and impact is important.

Lesson 9: Policy Implications
This lesson provides students with further background about the connections between problems, policy, and civic actions. First, students explore how policy can be linked to problems. Finally, they receive their CAP assignment and become familiar with the CAP Proposal.

Lesson 10: Analyzing Homelessness Policies
This lesson provides students with an additional opportunity to practice analyzing policy. First, as a whole group, they evaluate a criminalization of homelessness policy using GRADE. Then in small groups, they are given policies that address the criminalization of homelessness and they evaluate each.

Lesson 11: Thinking It Through
In this lesson, students continue to narrow the focus of their CAP projects by drafting three important questions about their problem or issue.

Lesson 12: Persuading
This lesson introduces students to the art of persuasion. First, they read about and discuss the three types of persuasion: appeal to reason (logos), appeal to emotion (pathos), and appeal to ethics (ethos). Then students prepare two-minute persuasive talks on why their CAP issue is important.

Lesson 13 & 14: Team Presentations
This lesson has students present their Civic Action Project issue to their peers. The presentation will provide an overview of the issue, an explanation of the team’s interest in the issue, the causes and effects of the issue, an overview of people that support and oppose the issue and the policy connection.

Lesson 15: The Mayor's Speech
As students continue to work on their CAP projects, this lesson reminds them of the importance of thinking about cost and benefits as they seek solutions to problems.

Lesson 16: Ask and Answer
In this lesson, students will begin formulating important questions regarding their Civic Action Project and determine who might be able to provide answers to their questions. At this point, students have thought their issue through, identified its connection to policy, formulated important questions, and solicited answers from groups or individuals regarding their Civic Action Project.

Lesson 17: Civic Action Survey
This lesson provides students with an opportunity to discuss and examine the importance of surveys to measure public opinion about their CAP problem or issue.

Lesson 18: Support & Oppose
This lesson engages students in their third civic action, conducting interviews with individuals or groups that support and oppose their civic issue.

Lesson 19: Civic Action: Raising Awareness -- PSA
For the students’ fourth civic action, they raise awareness about their CAP issues by creating public service announcements.

Lesson 20: Civic Action : What's Next
This lesson engages students in their fifth civic action, to be determined by the student CAP working group. Students will work with their partners to review the civic actions they have already taken, and discuss and devise a plan for their fifth action.

Lesson 21: CAP Report
This lesson allows students to reflect upon, evaluate, and document the learning outcomes of the civic experiences they created through their CAP projects. First, each civic action group will convene to discuss the successes and challenges they had in completing their civic actions. Next, they will refer back to their “Citizenship Brainstorm” charts and select one item from each category that they believe was critical to their group’s success. Finally, each student will complete a Project Report documenting the learning outcomes of the CAP process.


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Last modified: Thursday, 9 August 2018, 7:35 PM