Lessons Overview

All of the free Civic Action Project (CAP) lessons are tied to government/civics content. You will first teach two simple lessons that enable students to start their own CAP projects. The next three lessons will help students focus the scope of their projects and connect them to public policy. The final two lessons get students doing civic actions, reflecting on their civic learning, and communicating their findings to others.

The curriculum is aligned to Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects and supports the C3 Framework’s four dimensions for inquiry-based learning in social studies.


Lessons 1 through 7


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

Lesson 1: Citizenship Brainstorm
Students are introduced to Civic Action Project (CAP) and create a profile of citizenship that reflects the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and actions that they believe are important for effective citizenship in their communities.

Lesson 2: What’s Your Issue
Students choose their CAP issue, form civic action groups, and complete the CAP Proposal Planner.

Lesson 3: Exploring Causes & Effects
Narrowing the focus of their CAP project will help students choose and complete effective civic actions. Students will meet in their CAP groups to identify specific causes or effects of their CAP issues and complete the Thinking It Through Planner (I).

Lesson 4: Public Policy and Your Issue
Students work in small groups to learn what public policy is and how it relates to their civic action projects before completing of Thinking It Through (II).

Lesson 5: Evaluating Public Policy
Students are introduced to policy analysis by examining policy goals, pros, and cons, and people involved in real-world case studies.

Lesson 6: Taking Civic Action
Students brainstorm civic actions before learning about the Montgomery Bus Boycott as a case study on building a constituency. At the end of the lesson, CAP group will record their next steps by completing a Civic Action Planner.

Lesson 7: Reflect & Report
Students complete the Reflect & Report Planner to share what they learned about the importance of civic engagement and to explore options for sharing what they’ve learned with a larger audience.

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. . .



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.)
Reflect & Report: Students discuss the civic actions they took and the impact they made on their selected problem/issue, reflect on their own learning.


Pacing Guides

Updating.  Please check back.


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.

© Teach Democracy. Last modified: Thursday, 18 July 2024, 1:03 PM