In this exploration of American democracy students will follow the path to representative government by analyzing the tradition of discourse, debate, and compromise from Jamestown to Williamsburg and Philadelphia and finally to Washington. Students will determine the importance of debate and compromise for the development of a government by and for the people and also identify strategies for making their voices heard in government today.
Youth Leadership Initiative
The Youth Leadership Initiative at the University of Virginia Center for Politics is dedicated to increasing civic engagement by providing teachers with the best civics education materials and programs. Research shows that quality civics education programs are essential to creating lifelong citizenship and YLI programs empower students to take responsibility for our democracy. YLI believes that, “Politics is a Good Thing!”
This lesson examines the process of local decision making and its need for citizen input and compromise. Students simulate a local city/county council session and advise the council on public policy. Students are asked to consider the viewpoints of different citizen groups in order to reach a compromise that will benefit the entire community. This lesson can be used with a unit on local politics and can be adapted to reflect issues of compromise in your school or community.
This short activity is designed to introduce students to the concept of voting and its importance to American citizenship. Materials are also available in Spanish.
The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the concept of leadership and identify the qualities of a leader.
A free press is essential to the success of a democracy. As the media has evolved over time to include radio, television, internet and now smart phones and social media apps, the ability in “being capable to read them” needs examining. This lesson guides students through analysis of social media posts, the definition of terms relevant to the media, and provides tools for identifying quality sources for examination of current political issues. This lesson accompanies the Talking Turkey: Taking the ‘Dis’ Out of Civil Discourse program as well as YLI and American Evolution’s First Freedom Wall.
In this lesson, students will be introduced to the Bill of Rights. Students will be asked to illustrate those rights in order to demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which our Constitution protects the citizens of the United States. Students will also be able to determine how the Constitution affects the daily life of Americans.
The U.S. Constitution, though it serves as the firm foundation for our system of government, incorporates a process for change and flexibility. This lesson allows students to investigate, analyze and simulate the amendment process that allows the Constitution to remain an evolving document as envisioned by the Framers.
Americans love to personalize their vehicles in a way you will not see in many other countries. This lesson explores political ideology by analyzing data on automobile purchases and bumper stickers. Students will learn generalizations about conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, libertarians, socialists and appreciate the American custom of advertising political thought in public.
The Constitutional Compromise Game was designed specifically for teachers who don’t know what to do on Constitution Day. The game combines the skills of discourse, debate and compromise that were essential to the creation of the Constitution. Students work independently and in groups to solve Constitutional challenges and ratify the Constitution. This is a great activity for teachers who do not teach government or civics but need to satisfy the Constitution Day requirement.
Looking for an interactive way to teach about the legislative branch? The Youth Leadership Initiative’s E-Congress program allows students to learn about Congress by writing original legislation and following it through the lawmaking process. Registration is required.