Civics Lessons

Lesson Topic: Citizenship

Appreciating Democracy

This lesson is designed to teach students to appreciate the most basic practices of democracy in the United States: The lesson can be taught in three or four 45-minute class periods. At the heart of the lesson are three easy-to-teach activities (or simulations).

The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Understanding the President’s Job

Through these activities, students learn about the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own roles as citizens of a democracy.

Case of the Shipwrecked Sailors

Sudents review a case study which helps them distinguish between legal and ethical questions

Matching Game with the U.S. Constitution

By the end of this lesson, students will understand what the Constitution is and
what it does for them; recognize key images related to the
Constitution and its history.

We the Students: Writing a Class Constitution

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution sets out the purposes or functions of American government as envisioned by the framers. Using the Preamble as a guide, students will identify the purposes of their own classroom and create a class “constitution.”

This is Our Town Too: The Jury Process

In this lesson students learn about the process of voir dire and the use of peremptory challenges. Through the study of three actual Supreme Court cases, students gain background information for a classroom lesson.

Equal Justice Under Law

In this lesson, students explore the cause-and-effect relationships
between historical events and the development of constitutional
principles that protect the rights of all people in America today. In its first constitutional challenge to the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme
Court decided to hear a case brought by a Chinese immigrant, not an American citizen.

A History of Conflict Resolution and the Jury System

Students will gain an understanding of the modern jury system and historical methods of conflict resolution. They will compare and contrast the different trial methods of past and present, and analyze each as a way to resolve conflict. They will examine jury trials and the responsibility to decide the facts pertaining to key questions that jurors must answer. Then students will write a persuasive essay arguing for their preferred method of trial.

Becoming an Informed Voter: Preparing for the General Election

This lesson focuses on a voter’s need to be fully informed prior to casting a vote on Election Day and how to acquire the necessary information. Students learn what a yes or no vote or a decision to abstain means on a ballot. Students learn the definitions of amendment,initiative, and referendum. Students are given the opportunity to think critically and to learn firsthand why voters need to be fully informed about ballot questions.

Why Government?

Students take a look at two political thinkers who spent a lot of time trying to answer the question, “Why Government?” – Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The lesson asks students to compare and contrast Hobbes and Locke and to think about how these philosophers influenced those that followed in their footsteps.

A Kid’s Guide to Running for President

Students will read about the election process and correctly put the steps in proper sequence. Students will participate in a debate on an issue that relates to their day-to-day school experience.

Citizen Me

Students learn that they are citizens at many levels of society: home, school, city, state, and nation! Students create a graphic organizer that diagrams rights and responsibilities at these different levels of citizenship. They also learn the sources of their rights and responsibilities at each level.

Becoming a Voter

In this lesson, students apply what they learn about their state’s requirements for registering to vote. Students learn when and how to register, how to complete a voter registration form, and when and how to re-register.

Participating in the Jury System

Students participate in activities and discussions about the relationship of a democratic society to its legal institutions, and the issues of fairness and equality under the law and legal system. They learn how constitutional amendments such as the Fourteenth Amendment influence lawsuits, and they will apply concepts within the Bill of Rights to jury trials. Students conduct research to compare the U.S. jury trial system to trial systems in other countries.

Interpreting the Law

Students learn why laws need to be interpreted by discussing laws/constitutional provisions. They present their findings to the class.

How Should We Choose People for Positions of Authority?

This lesson helps students to identify the requirements of a position of authority and the qualifications a person should possess to fill that position. Students learn a set of intellectual tools designed to help them both analyze the duties of the position and to decide if an individual is qualified to serve in that particular position. During the lesson students practice using the intellectual tools.

The Exchange: Should the United States Reduce Immigration?

Through research and deliberation, students are encouraged to look at the issue of immigration reform from different points of view.

The Jury System

In this lesson, students identify pros and cons of jury trials and judge-only trials, plus develop and respond to questions that might help to ensure the selection of a fair and unbiased jury.

The Need for Laws: Planet Lawless

This activity will help students understand the need for rules, the rulemaking process, and the role of the student / citizen. Students will be introduced to the relationship between rules and laws and how citizens can establish laws in their communities, much like rules in the classroom, to help them live together.

Responsibility and the U.S. Constitution

In this lesson, students learn about responsibility and apply the concept to segments of the U.S. Constitution.

Get Involved with Civic Education in Michigan!