September 17th was National Constitution Day, and with the elections fast approaching, it's a great time to start conversations with your students about civics. Several reports in the last few years have surfaced concerns that civics education is getting the short end of the stick in the American education system (read "Why Civic Education Needs a Boost" by Suzie Boss and "Let's Bring Civic Education to the Front Burner" by Anne O'Brien for more thoughts on this). And I probably don't need to convince anyone reading this about the value -- no, the absolute necessity -- of teaching young people to become engaged and active citizens.
The great news is that there are lots of tools to help shake off the stodgy reputation that civics has sometimes been saddled with. Forget those tedious textbook definitions -- with a bit of humor (the rabble-rouser's longtime partner!), a few hip videos, some game-based learning, and a couple hands-on projects, you can not only inform your students about civic issues, teach critical thinking, and squeeze in media literacy, you can get them excited about their own potential for making change in the world.
Video Playlist: Remixing Civic Education
Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.
More Resources for Teaching Civics
Social media has made grassroots activism of all stripes more accessible to anyone with a connection and a cause, so there's never been a better time for kids to be passionate about taking action, speaking up, and standing by their beliefs. Want to build a lesson around the upcoming presidential debate on October 3rd? Hungry for more resources for civics education? Read these two recent Edutopia blogs -- "Use Game-Based Learning to Teach Civics" by Andrew Miller and "Engage Future Voters with Election Projects" by Suzie Boss -- and then check out the links below for more ideas and materials.
- Center for Civic Education
- Education Landing Page from the National Constitution Center
- The Dreyfuss Initiative
- First Amendment Schools Initiative, co-sponsored by ASCD and the First Amendment Center
- Annenberg Classroom: Resources for Excellent Civic Education
- Pros and Cons of Controversial Issues
- Civic Deliberation and Social Action from the National Writing Project's Digital Is website
- Election Resource Page from PBS Learning Media
- The Best Resources For Learning About The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election from edublogger and curator Larry Ferlazzo
- #civics and #civiced hashtags on Twitter