Required 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: Exploring Issues, Problems, and Policy
This lesson provides students with an understanding of the concept of cause and effect. Students will apply this concept to specific examples. Next, students will read and discuss a short article defining policy to understand the connection between problems and policy. Finally, students will analyze policy scenarios to understand how policy can be part of the solution or sometimes even be part of the problem.

Lesson 3: Civic Action A: Proposal
In this lesson, students are introduced to the Project Proposal Planner and challenged to convince a classroom audience that the problem, issue, or policy they want to address is important. First students will convene in their civic action groups. Next they will review their “Picture the Problem” charts to draft and add their group’s CAP issue statement. Finally, groups will apply the results of their “Picture the Problem” and Citizenship Brainstorm charts to complete their Project Proposal Planner before submitting for teacher approval.

Lesson 4: 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. Finally, in their CAP groups, students present their talk to the class for feedback.

Lesson 5: Introducing the CAP Website (Homework Assignment)
In this homework assignment, students are challenged to complete a scavenger hunt that will familiarize them with featured online resources designed to help them with developing their CAP projects. Students will then apply what they learn to complete Project Proposal in next lesson.

Lesson 6: 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 7: Analyzing Homelessness Policies (Optional)
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 8:  Civic Action B: Thinking It Through (Homework)
In this lesson, students continue to narrow the focus of their CAP projects by drafting three important questions about their problem or issue. First, students convene in their civic action groups to reflect on results and challenges of their first civic actions. Next, they brainstorm three guiding questions that they want to address with their civic actions. Finally, each group works together to apply the results of discussion and feedback to their Thinking It Through Planner.

Lesson 9: The Mayor's Speech (Optional)
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. In this two-day activity, students become a Crime-Free Schools Task Force appointed by the mayor of a hypothetical community of Glen Hills to choose a school safety plan that makes the best use of funds. In Day One, students listen to a reading of the mayor’s speech before they break into groups to read and analyze five Crime-Free Schools plans. In Day Two, students meet again to review and select plans to address school safety and crime. Note: Effective law enforcement requires the cooperation of all the communities it serves. The school community is no exception. This lesson helps students place issues of law enforcement and public safety in the context of their own lives and that of the school.

Civic Action C: Ask and Answer
Now that the students have thought their issue through and identified its connection to policy, they will continue building upon their work. For this civic action, students will begin formulating important questions regarding their Civic Action Project and determine who might be able to provide answers to their questions. They will decide the best approach to outreach in securing answers to their questions, e.g. letters, emails, phone calls, etc. They will maintain communication with their community partners, following up with additional questions, as they develop a solution to the problem or issue in their Civic Action Project. In their teams, students will report progress to their teacher using the Ask and Answer Planning Sheet.

Civic Action D: Support & Oppose
This civic action engages students in their third civic action, conducting interviews with individuals or groups that support and oppose their civic issue. Students will research and prepare interviews, conduct the interviews and reflect on the experience to identify new understandings and potential next steps.

Civic Action E: What's Next
This civic action engages students in their next 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 next action.

Civic Action F: Civic Action Report and CAPfolio or PSA Contests 
Students raise awareness about their CAP issues by creating public service announcements. First, students discuss what a public service announcement (PSA) is and what makes existing PSAs effective or ineffective. Next, students critique existing CAP PSAs from the CAP website using guiding questions. In their CAP teams, students plan their own PSA for their CAP issues and either choose or are assigned a medium for the PSA. Finally, each group creates its PSA and completes the Planner.

Go to Planners, Toolkit, Student Action, and other course materials.

Last modified: Wednesday, 22 August 2018, 11:00 PM