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. 


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.

Option A (Policy Analysis): Students are introduced to GRADE, a policy-analysis rubric and apply it to the gang ordinance.
Option B (Civil Conversation): Students use the civil conversation strategy to analyze the Chicago gang ordinance.

Supplemental Lessons

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

newCivic 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. 

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.

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.

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.


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. . .


CRF Resources for AP U.S. Government & Politics

Your one-stop shop for targeted access to key 
free resources from CRF. 

Using the CAP in Your AP U.S. GoPo Class

Core lessons provide students with key content and skills they need to begin work on their CAP, which will help them meet The College Board’s “applied civics project” requirement.  All of these lessons also address AP U.S. Learning Objectives and Essential Knowledge requirements, as well as some key Disciplinary Practices and Reasoning Processes.

  • For more information about what the lessons could accomplish and look like in your class, take a look at our webinar and presentation. 

  • Register for CAP and get access to the lessons and additional materials featured in the webinar.

Free Lessons for Teaching Required Documents & Supreme Court Cases


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.


Pacing Guides

CAP Scope and Sequence: Quarter



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 Policymaking at the Local Level and Law & Policy.
Online Activities
  • Students share their CAP experiences.
  • Peer Consultation(s): online or face-to-face.

CAP Planner

  • Complete Civic Actions #2 and #3.

Policymaking at the Local Level*

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

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.


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  > > >

Professional Development

Are you looking for professional development for Civic Action Project (CAP)?

Here are several ways teachers new to CAP can be provided with professional development:

1. DIY

We continuously adds resources to the website focused on how to implement CAP in the classroom. If you want to learn how to implement CAP on your own, here are some links to help you “do it yourself”!

Take a look at each of the tabs. This will help you get started, gain an understanding about the rationale of CAP and its intended outcomes.

  • Videos: Check out various CAP webinars we have posted.
  • Videos: There are short videos that help you understand each of CAP core lessons. These same videos are also posted next to each of the five first lessons.
  • Videos: There are several videos and other resources made by students, for students. These will help you, too!

Cost: FREE

2. Get in the Loop

Register yourself on the CAP website and you will start getting email updates like Now Engaging, a newsletter specifically for CAP teachers that provides updates, tips, and showcases CAP teachers and students. You will also receive special announcements about professional development webinars and other online and face-to-face professional development events.

Contact Gregorio or Laura to see if we can hook you up with a CAP teacher in your region who can provide you with some one-on-one coaching. Gregorio and Laura may also know of some face-to-face CAP sessions in your locale being conducted by CAP teachers or other non-profits we work with.

Cost: FREE

Please know that CRF is continuously seeking funding to provide all CAP resources and professional development free of charge.
If we are not currently resourced to serve you, we can provide the “fee for service” as described below.

3. CAP PD Lite

Contact Gregorio or Laura to schedule an after-school professional development session with CRF.

Option A: Live Webinar for up to 30 teachers.
We can design a webinar event tailored to your needs and schedule the session at a time convenient for your teachers.

Option B: Face-to-face Introduction to CAP (2-3 hours) for up to 30 teachers.
Many CAP teachers have learned to implement CAP by starting with a 2-3 hour session to get the basics. Please give Gregorio or Laura a call if you are interested.

Option A
Cost: $750 covers the cost of CRF staff to plan and deliver one webinar session.

Option B
Cost: (First, check with us because we may have you covered!)

Fee varies depending on location. $1,000 covers CRF staff time. You would need to cover any travel, site costs, and teacher stipends.

4. The Gold Standard CAP PD Package

Ideally, teachers are provided with a full-day of face to face professional development, followed by live, interactive webinars focused on key aspects of CAP implementation and ongoing direct or remote follow-up support depending on location of school-site.

Cost: (First, check with us because we may have you covered!)

Costs vary depending on location, but on average, run approximately $1,500 per teacher over the course of *two semesters of implementation of CAP. The need for CRF staff travel may increase the cost.

*We know that in many places, the Government/Civics course is one semester. Teachers may be teaching Government one semester and Economics another, thus it is possible that using CAP for two semesters will stretch over a two-year period.

Last modified: Monday, 24 October 2022, 2:32 AM