Civic Literacy Development
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Writing Legislators

During my 5-day unit for my Methods course I had students write a mock letter to their state senator or representative. Students could write a letter: 1. asking that a law be introduced to correct a problem or issue they see in their communities or state. 2. question a legislator about a law that is in place that you do not understand why it exists. 3. ask that a current law be repealed. I urged them to think critically about their communities and issues that affect them and to ask challenging questions to those who are in positions of power. This assignment allowed my students to think about which issues directly affect them, how it makes them feel, and how they would like to see their government go about helping them by communicating directly with their government officials. Some of the most popular topics were: questions about amendment 1, asking to repeal the 9 P.M. curfew on provisional drivers licenses, and implementing a mandatory recycling program in Alamance county.

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Impact of Participation in Service-Learning on High School Students' Civic Engagement, (The) | National Service-Learning Clearinghouse

Impact of Participation in Service-Learning on High School Students' Civic Engagement, (The) | National Service-Learning Clearinghouse | Civic Literacy Development | Scoop.it

This study compared more than 1,000 high school students who participated in service-learning programs with those who did not participate in schools matched for similar demographics and
student achievement profiles. The goal was to evaluate the the effects of service-learning on students' philosophy and opinions of education, learning, and the democratic process. The 55 page journal article is attached as a PDF link on the page.

 

Summary of Survey Results:

Service-learning students were significantly more likely to say that they intended to vote and that they enjoyed school, but only when members of organizations that are run well and effective in the community.

Student outcomes improved when service-learning programs lasted longer.

Students who engaged in direct service (e.g., tutoring or visiting seniors) were most attached to their communities. Students who engaged in indirect service (e.g., fundraising or research) showed the highest levels of academic engagement. Students who engaged in political or civic action (e.g., circulating a petition or organizing a community forum) scored highest on civic knowledge and civic dispositions.

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Democracy in Action: Students Step Up as Key Decision Makers

Democracy in Action: Students Step Up as Key Decision Makers | Civic Literacy Development | Scoop.it

"VIDEO: First-Class Citizens: Civics Isn't Just a Class"

 

This video and article from Edutopia demostrates a "First Amendment School" in action. The reforms shown seem to have had a large impact on the students' political efficacy and civic engagement. The first of the reforms was to restructure the school's governing council so that the majority voice was the students and not teachers and administrators. The school of roughly 1,000 students is divided into 10 "clusters" which contain approixmately 100 students. For one hour a week students go to a class where they engage in preferred activity. Many of these activities benefit the surrounding community. One cooks and provides meals and foods for the hungry, another knits winter caps for the poor. When an issue of censorship brought debate in the school the students took sides and engaged in a civil conversation over the topic. This FAS program seems to have enlighted students on their civid duty and responsibilities as well as how they can change the world around them, the goals of the P21 "Civic Literacy" framework.

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Civic Literacy Report - Information for Educators

This site is primarily focused on college students and educators, but some of the guides and suggestions are transferable to the high school classroom. Teachers should "Encourage students to take courses on America's founding principles." While most states have a mandatorycivics or government class engrained in the Social Studies curriculum American politics and government electives or AP coures provide a more indepth and analytical look at the formation, structure, and activities past and present of the Federal and State level governments. A second suggestion is to eliminate all ideological and political biases from your teaching. This allows students to develop their own opinions and ideologies and not rely on echoing what they hear adults saying. Advocate membeship and envolvement in political groups like Young Democrats/Republicans or College Democrats/Republicans. This site also features resources for Parents, Students, and Policymakers which can be found on the side toolbar under the heading "Resources." The site also features a 33 question Civic Literacy Exam (essentially a history/gov't/econ quiz) as well as two other civic engagement and knowledge assessments.

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Democracy Prep "Vote For Somebody"

Democracy Prep "Vote For Somebody" | Civic Literacy Development | Scoop.it

A month overdue, but a wonderful "Call Me Maybe" parody performed by fourth grade students at Democracy Prep School in Harlem. It is an excellent example of how to engage students in civic education in an engaging and entertaining way. Nonpartisan lyrics are greatly important, as teachers should not force their views on students or have any influence on the learners. One main focus of civic literacy is allowing students to develop their own ideology.

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Civic literacy and the civic mission of schools - Taking Center Stage-Act II (TCSII) (CA Dept of Education)

This doctoral dissertation by Cricket Kidwell explains the importance of civic literacy in preparing students to be future leaders and engaged, productive citizens. Kidwell recommends the following classroom activities as methods to enhance civic knowledge and engage students in civics: classroom analysis and debate of current events, calssroom simulations of congressional hearings, student initiated projects and programs. He also advocated for the student led community volunteer programs and engagement in afterschool extracurricular activities sucha as partisan groups and volunteer initiatives.

Kidell asserts that these activities and development of civic understaning will lead to the expansion of students' decision making skills, evaluation of information, historical understanding, communication and debate skills, collaborative skills, understansing of equity and community activism.

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Leadership/Civic Literacy

Route 21 is a website that provides resources and information about the P21 framework. This site streeses the importance of leadership and responsibility. This site appears to advocate for a program called "First Amendment Schools." FAS is a reform initative to integrate civic responsibilities and rights into teaching and learning. Districts that become members of FAS gain access to materials such as lesson plans, sample school civic policies and publications that educators can use to promote civic literacy.

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The Right Question Civic and Voter Engagement Strategy

The Right Question Civic and Voter Engagement Strategy | Civic Literacy Development | Scoop.it

"The Right Question Civic & Voter Engagement Strategy is a non-partisan approach for engaging residents of low & moderate-income communities in the democratic process." The premise is to increase voter turnout through developing self-avocacy skills and helping make connection between government decisions and a person daily life. The Right Question Strategy is designed to help make informed election decisions, but also helps develop sustained civic engagement long after election day has passed. Once you spend roughly a minute filling out a free registration form you have full access all materials needed to cary out the specialy designed RIght Question workshop. Materials include a facilitator handbook, powerpoint presentation and an a pamphlet of "teachable moments" summarizing the workshop. This could be an ideal free workshop hosted by a high school and open to all new student voters and community members interested in attending to gain or further their knowledge of issues leading up to federal, state, and local elections. Most importantly this is a non-partisan program that will not advocate for either party's platforms or candidate.

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