All resources in Civics Educators: All Locations

Engaging Students Regarding Events at U.S. Capitol

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At OSPI, part of our mission is to prepare students for civic engagement throughout their lives. We believe our schools must engage and empower students, from an early age, with opportunities to participate in civil conversations, examples of effective civic engagement, and tools to find peaceful solutions to community problems.OSPI’s Social Studies and Social-Emotional Learning teams have put together resources for educators, families, and students to help with these difficult conversations.

Material Type: Teaching/Learning Strategy

Authors: Kari Tally, Barbara Soots, Washington OSPI OER Project, Jerry Price

Know Your Rights!

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As American citizens, you are born with rights, but do you even know what those rights are? In this seminar, you will learn about the creation of the Bill of Rights and how those freedoms are still protected by the United States government today.  Standards5.1.9.D Compare and contrast the basic principles found in significant documents: Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, PA Constitution.5.1.12.E Analyze and assess the rights of people as written in the PA Constitution and the US Constitution.CC.8.5.9-10.B Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text. 

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tracy Rains

Freedom of Assembly: The Right to Protest

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This lesson from Annenberg Classroom will focus on freedom of assembly, as found in the First Amendment. Students will consider the importance of the right to assemble and protest by analyzing cases where First Amendment rights were in question. Using the case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, students will consider if the government is ever allowed to control the ability to express ideas in public because viewpoints are controversial, offensive, or painful. Students will use primary sources and Supreme Court cases to consider whether the courts made the correct decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to form an opinion on the essential question: Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom to assemble?

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

“Freedom of Speech…Always Protected?”

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Without question, Americans look to their First Amendment right to free speech probably as much if not more than any other protection afforded to them under our Constitution and Bill of Rights; for that reason, it demands much attention.  This lesson will seek to provide a background of some of the major free speech cases throughout our country’s history, where those rights have been allowed to be infringed upon by government, and where the courts have stepped in to prevent government from censoring speech.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

You too could serve in Congress one day!

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This lesson allows students to delve into the life of a current or historical member of Congress. Biography can be a powerful too that can impact a person. The Members of Congress categories include: youngest, women, African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islander Americans, former athletes, former entertainers and Independents/third party. Students should conduct research and then either write a report, give a presentation (or do both) as an assessment. The lesson provides names for each category, a sample rubric and recommended website resources for research.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Homework/Assignment, Lesson Plan, Reading

Author: Tom Marabello

"The Constitution vs. The Articles of Confederation"

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To ensure and enhance student understanding of concepts related to the Constitution and Articles of Confederation, specifically students will be able to:Explain the larger ideas of federalism vs. anti-federalism or states’ rights, and how those ideas feed into people’s overall political beliefs.Identify and explain the various branches of the federal government, the obstacles that had been faced under the Articles of Confederation, and how this new federalist/republican model of government grew out of those difficulties.Identify and explain the various powers delegated to the states versus federal government in both documents, what changed, and why.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

“Congress, the President, and the Constitution: Then and Now”

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This lesson will give your students the chance to compare and contrast Articles I and II of the Constitution, and the powers delegated to both the legislative and executive branches.  Students will deeply examine the historic and current relationship between Congress and the President and how power and influence have seemed to ebb and flow between them over more than 200 years, including a look at the War Powers Act and how that has impacted the push-pull between Congress and the President, looking at some case studies from the past 35 years.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

Federalism v. States Rights

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This lesson seeks to allow students the chance to analyze difficult primary source materials looking for insights into the authors’ views and opinions, as well as giving them a thorough working understanding of the many issues surrounding both federalism and anti-federalism.  They can also begin to draw conclusions about their own beliefs about the role of the federal government in the lives of citizens, as well as make connections to today’s political parties and their ideas on the subject.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

The 25th Amendment: Presidential Disability & Succession and Vice Presidential Vacancies

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This eLesson by Dr. Felix Yerace will provide students with an opportunity to learn about the text of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment as well as its historical usage and potential need. It will ask them to consider why such an Amendment was deemed necessary and how it has been, and could be, used. It will also give students the opportunity to debate possible applications of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

9/11 and the Constitution

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The anniversaries of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, provide us an opportunity to reflect upon who we are as Americans, examine our most fundamental values and principles and affirm our commitment to them, and evaluate progress toward the realization of American ideals and propose actions that might narrow the gap between these ideals and reality. The following lessons are designed to accomplish these goals.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Center Staff

The Better Arguments Project

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Better Arguments can help students learn to engage productively across differences and grapple with differing viewpoints. Linked are resources that are applicable to school-based learning activities and after school programs. These include a curriculum, exit ticket exercise and current events exercise.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Reading, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Author: The Better Arguments Project

Electing Our Presidents Teacher Workshop

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Educators from the Hoover, Truman, Carter, Clinton and Reagan Presidential Libraries hosted “Electing Our Presidents.” This professional development webinar examined the question, “Does our process of electing our president best serve the American people?” “Who counts?” - Josh Montanari, Carter Presidential Library “Who can vote?” - Kathleen Pate, Clinton Presidential Library “How do we vote?” - Elizabeth Dinschel, Hoover Presidential Library “What happens if the results are challenged?” - Mark Adams and Angela Estep, Truman Presidential Library “What happens if a President dies or is unfit to serve?” - Mira Cohen, Reagan Presidential Library

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Case Study, Lecture

Author: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

The Iran Hostage Crisis Simulation

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To have students gain a better understanding that representing the United States abroad is an extraordinarily dangerous job. This lesson provides students with a hands-on history lab where participants step into the roles of President Carter and his advisors, work with formerly classified primary source documents, and collaborate to tackle one of history’s greatest challenges. Reveal to students how, in the wake of a successful 1979 revolution by Islamic fundamentalists against the pro-American Shah of Iran, the United States became an object of virulent criticism and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was a visible target.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Case Study, Homework/Assignment, Lesson Plan, Primary Source, Reading, Simulation

Authors: Christopher Stanley, Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

The Development of Political Parties

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This lesson allows students to listen to a podcast and check out different links to learn more about political parties, how and why they developed, along with learning key vocabulary terms. There are several options within the lesson, including working with a partner, creating a word cloud, reading an article, watching documentary clips and a clip from the musical Hamilton, and completing a graphic organizer. It also includes information and materials where students can learn more about the major presidential elections of 1800, 1824 and 1860.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Case Study, Lesson Plan, Module, Reading, Student Guide

Authors: New American History, RetroReport

HS American Gov. EBAS Lesson Seed: Structure and Function of the Legislative Branch

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Lesson seeds are ideas for the standards that can be used to build a lesson.  Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.  This lesson seed provides a compelling question and a bank of sources to use to drive an inquiry based lesson or a potential Evidence Based Argument Set (EBAS).  When developing lessons from these seeds, teachers must consider the needs of all learners.  Once you have built your lesson from the lesson seed, teachers are encouraged to post the lesson that has emerged from this lesson seed and share with others. Compelling question:Should term limits be imposed on members of Congress?  EL Modification: highlight important vocabulary, add images to improve text comprenesion; consider adapting content, process and/or product based on Can Do WIDA DescriptorsImage source: "United States Capitol - west front" by Architect of the Capitol from Wikimedia.org

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Authors: Robby May, Beth Ann Haas, Leah Renzi, MSDE Admin