Only the first five lessons need to be taught in order. They introduce CAP and policy analysis. The remaining lessons may be taught in any order, based on student interest in the topic and teacher discretion. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with all the lessons. Please visit How Do I Get Started for simple instructions on implementing CAP lessons.

CAP defines civic actions as all of the things average citizens do to address a problem or issue in their community. Evidence may include notes and documents, photographs, and other tangible items related to what a student did. For example, if David goes to a public meeting, David may bring back a copy of the meeting’s agenda. If Susan interviews a public official, she may get a copy of the official’s business card. The CAP Planners themselves qualify as evidence of students’ civic actions. The Planners enable students to document civic actions they’ve completed, reflect on the results, and identify additional civic actions that they can take on.

There is no set number. The key is to encourage students to continue completing civic actions for the duration of their CAP assignment, which is typically 8–10 weeks. Civic actions should demonstrate how they are actively and thoughtfully engaged in addressing their issue while practicing the skills, acquiring the knowledge, and developing the attitudes of an effective citizen. Please visit our Student Action tab for examples of student actions.
The goal of CAP is for students to practice addressing problems, issues, and needs in their community by completing as many civic actions as they can. As a result, they learn to be effective citizens. Accordingly, students should be encouraged to set additional goals and objectives that build upon their previous success. Chances are that the accomplishment of a short-term goal sets the stage for civic actions toward a more long-term goal.

An option for enrichment in CAP is provided in the CAP contests. The PSA and CAPfolio contests provide cash awards for media products (e.g., a PSA or web page) that captures your student’s CAP experience and promotes the importance of civic engagement. Rules and deadlines can be found in the Contests tab of the CAP website.
This will be the norm. Affecting public policy is often long and difficult. Students should be told this going in. The CAP project consists of students practicing citizenship by completing as many civic actions as possible to become effective citizens. That is the project. It is a bonus if they achieve their goal, but it should not be counted against them if they do not. Students should consider archiving their CAP experience in a manner that would enable a subsequent group of students, concerned about the same issue, to build upon their previous efforts.
How do groups get evaluated? Same grade? Separate grade? Collective hard copy?                                                                                                                    
Many CAP teachers use the Assessment rubrics designed help assess student efforts. In some cases, teachers ask each student working in a group to complete individual CAP Proposal, Thinking It Through, Civic Action, and Project Report planners (or essays). The students then received independent grades. Other teachers give students a group grade, asking students to evaluate their own and their fellow group members’ efforts, which is factored into the overall group grade. Several teachers have groups hand in “collective” copies, with the individual students “signing off” on what was handed in. Please visit Teacher Created Resources for additional ideas on how to evaluate student work.

All of these student-grouping models work with CAP. Here are some illustrations for each:

Small Groups. The class is divided into groups of 2–6 students, and each group selects its own issue or problem to work on.

    • Some teachers have the class come up with a list of issues or problems, and students select one or two that interest them. The teacher then eliminates any issues that just get one vote. Students are grouped according to like-mindedness. This way, each student is working with at least one other student on an issue of interest.
    • Other teachers put students in groups (or have students self-select partners) and let the groups come to agreement on their issue.

Whole Class. In this model, the teacher helps students reach consensus on a single problem or issue. Focusing on this one issue, students form separate groups that each address the problem in a different way.

    • In a whole-class model, some teachers impose a structure by having all groups share the actions they are considering with the other groups in order to coordinate activities and use each other as resources. Each group can benefit from the feedback of other groups. A group may decide to change actions to avoid duplicate efforts, or after discussion, it may decide that duplicate efforts might actually strengthen the impact.
    • Some teachers use the whole-group model to have their students apply concepts of self-governance. Students decide what needs to be done regarding the civic action forms and divide responsibilities accordingly.

Independent Work. Individual students may be passionate about a particular issue not selected by any of their peers and could work independently on their own CAP. Teachers might choose to assign CAP in lieu of a typical research paper, wanting each student to do CAP individually.

    • You can choose to have regular deadlines when civic action forms from every student are due.
    • Or you can maintain a bulletin board or inbox for students to post or turn in their forms as they complete them.
    • If CAP will be serving the role of a research paper, you might ask each student to provide evidence of particular types of resources or actions that you would like specifically to assess.

Several CAP teachers have been pleasantly surprised to watch their students become passionate about the issues they are working on. That said, here are a couple of suggestions to effectuate student buy-in to the project:

    • Assign CAP as part of your classroom course. Students who may not be as motivated to complete usual classroom assignments actually did better with the project-based nature of CAP, especially when it was made a regular part of the course.
    • According to research and our experience, the most powerful thing teachers can do is put students in the driver’s seat. The more decisions that students make about their CAP issue and civic actions, the stronger their buy-in to the CAP experience.
© Teach Democracy. Last modified: Wednesday, 6 May 2020, 5:27 AM