What is a Democracy?

In this lesson, students will identify essential components of a functioning democracy. They will be presented with “borderline” countries – hypothetical nations that exhibit some, but not all, of the characteristics of a democracy. Through discussion and group work, students will expand their understanding of democracy and see different manifestations of democratic practices.

60-Second Civics Podcasts

60-Second Civics is a podcast that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation’s government, the Constitution, and our history. The podcast explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation’s history and government. The show’s content is primarily derived from the Center for Civic Education’s education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy. It’s easy to subscribe! Listen on iTunes or Stitcher or subscribe via RSS.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Audio

Deliberation Materials: Is the United States’ Democracy Healthy?

Is the United States’ democracy healthy? This activity includes a deliberation reading and glossary, as well as accompanying handouts to give students additional information on the topic and to guide them through the deliberation process from planning to reflection. Deliberation teaches people how to discuss controversial issues by carefully considering multiple perspectives and searching for consensus. In preparation for deliberations, all participants read common, balanced background information on the issue. During the discourse, they offer arguments for each position on a contested public issue, first drawing from the text and then bringing in their own experiences.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Modules (Teaching Unit)

Foundations of Democracy: Lesson Plans & Resources

Teach the Foundations of Democracy

This Share My Lesson collection provides teachers with free lesson plans and resources on the foundational principles of democracies, including rule of law, limited government, and checks and balances. It can be used to build background knowledge to analyze the health of our democracy over time and in today’s environment.

Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Strengthening Democracy in America

Strengthening Democracy in America is a collection of free courses featuring video interviews with noted scholars. These courses will deepen your understanding of the American political system and your rights and responsibilities in it. The first two courses provide a framework for understanding the history and development of the system. Subsequent courses focus on its strengths and weaknesses and means of enhancing the strengths and diminishing the weaknesses. The courses are open to anyone and can be completed at your own pace.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Books

Birth of American Democracy: Discourse, Debate and Compromise

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.

Grades 7-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Puritan Massachusetts: Theocracy or Democracy?

In the 1630s, English puritans in Massachusetts bay colony created a self-government that went far beyond what existed in England. Some historians argue that it was a religious government, or theocracy. Others claim it was a democracy. Following the reading, in small groups, students investigate, discuss, and decide the question: Was the government in Puritan Massachusetts a theocracy, a democracy, or neither?

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans