Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.

Civil Conversation: Immigration Enforcement Raids

Controversial legal and policy issues, as they are discussed in the public arena, often lead to polarization, not understanding. This Civil Conversation activity offers an alternative. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator, participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials, gain insight about their own point of view, and strive for a shared understanding of issues. This lesson plan addresses the debate over the policies of the federal agency – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – that investigates and enforces the nation’s immigration laws.

Constitutional Conversations and Civil Dialogue

As you read, interpret, and cite the Constitution, it’s important to think about how the Constitution defines or limits the power of the government. That’s how constitutional scholars and judges read, interpret, and cite the Constitution! Check out our Civil Dialogue Toolkit in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.

Guns and School Safety

The Constitutional Rights Foundation provides resources to help students, teachers, administrators, and districts think about the best way forward for their communities and states. Resources include a simulation activity in which students act as state legislators trying to design the most effective policy for reduction of gun violence in their state (grades 9-12); a civil conversation in which students participate in a small-group discussion (middle school); talking points on the causes of school violence; and more.

Grades 7-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans

Civic Conversations

How do educators invest in productive, deep, and transformative dialogue in their classrooms? Civic Conversations is a collaboration between the Kennedy Institute’s civic education programming and the community-building dialogic structure practiced by Essential Partners. Explore resources, activities, and lesson structures that support educators as they facilitate difficult conversations, create inclusive learning environments, raise complex discussions, and promote a safe space for students to consider their values and engage in their communities.

How to Have a Civil Civic Conversation

Filmed on a Constituting America Winner Mentor Trip, five young ladies share their thoughts on how to agree to disagree and how to have a discussion and still remain friends. Through personal experience these students have learned a lifelong lesson. Enjoy learning their lessons while you discuss yours. When watching you will see each person’s name, title and number. The number is their age. The title is the contest area they won in the We the Future contest. Check out the website for the contest information. Who knows maybe soon you will see your talent on the Civics Renewal Network and Constituting America!

Grades 9-12, 6, 7, 8
Citizenship
Interactives

The Emoluments Clause and the President (Civil Conversation)

The emoluments clause is a provision in the U.S. Constitution. An emolument is a profit or advantage an official gains from his or her office. The framers of the Constitution feared that ambassadors in the early republic might be corrupted by gifts from foreign countries. The framers wanted public servants to be free from outside influence.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

The 2015 Baltimore Riots: A Teachable Moment

The Newseum believes that improving civic education has the power to improve our schools, communities and our democracy. The Baltimore unrest can be an entry point in your conversation with students.

The Newseum has numerous resources to help teachers broach this topic in the classroom. Lesson plans, videos and activities guide students in how civil rights issues have been represented in the media over many decades. And how citizens, including young people, can develop a voice and use the freedoms of the First Amendment to effect change and inspire action.

Grades 6-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Research (Digests of Primary Sources)