Doing Democracy: Civic Education Consortium
Want to find great lessons, ideas and activities that help your students learn about civics, government and democracy in North Carolina? Check out the North Carolina Civic Education Consortium (CEC). A program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CEC is your source for awesome lesson plans, opportunities for professional development and more.
CEC works with schools, governments, and community organizations to prepare North Carolina's young people to be active, responsible citizens. The Consortium offers professional development for teachers and free, online lesson plans in the Database of Civic Resources. Learn more and access the materials at www.civics.org.
Here are a few lessons we especially like:
State and Local Government
Through this interactive activity, students will understand what services are funded by North Carolina state government as well as county governments.
Students will explore the budgeting process in North Carolina, gaining an understanding of the different categories of our state’s budget, how they are funded, and the state’s procedure for making a budget. Students will participate in an experiential activity in which they create a balanced state budget, determining what areas to prioritize and then defending their decisions to fellow legislators. Students will further discuss current events regarding how North Carolina is being affected by the nation’s economic crisis and how legislators are addressing our states dire budget shortfall.
Registering to vote
Students will learn about registering and voting in North Carolina, particularly focusing on North Carolina’s new preregistration law, which will allow 16 and 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote effective January 1, 2010. Students will also explore the importance of registering and voting, as well as the reasons for voter apathy. This lesson will culminate with students creating a commercial to encourage North Carolina’s 16 and 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote.
In this lesson, students will learn about North Carolina’s exciting new legislation that allows 16 and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote (effective January 1, 2010); one goal of this law is to ensure that more young people participate in the political process. Students learn about the many reasons why young people should pre-register/register and vote, as well as write a persuasive essay convincing others of the importance of young people actively participating in our democracy.
Civic skills - listening, deliberating in democracy
In this lesson, students will explore the various ways they can ensure their voices are heard regarding issues they care about. To “help students appreciate their own value, intelligence, and potential as political actors” (Anyon, 2005, p. 179) students will role play different ways of taking political action and reflect on ways to more effectively lobby for change. As students begin to learn the tools of successful activism and “participate in contention, they develop new strategies of action out of everyday activities, routines, and cultural forms.”
In this activity, participants will explore the definition of a citizen, as well as the traits ideal and negative citizens possess. They will then discuss the responsibilities of citizens in depth by participating in an acting exercise and discussing the themes illustrated in the scenes. Ideally, this activity will culminate with a volunteer event or service learning project.
According to Patricia Hill Collins (2009), many of us “see democracy as a thing, a finished product manufactured in the west that advanced capitalist societies can give to the less fortunate” (p. 12). In this lesson, students will explore the concept of democracy and begin to understand that “democracy is a process, a way of building community and getting business done…” (Hill Collins, 2009, p. 12). By focusing on the active components of democracy seldom highlighted, students will gain an understanding that they each are responsible for “doing” democracy through their active participation as citizens and community members.
North Carolina’s spring 2011 legislative session included the consideration of a controversial bill that would have mandated that all North Carolinians show a valid photo ID when voting. In this lesson, students will explore existing (as of spring 2011) voting laws in North Carolina and weigh the pros and cons of the proposed bill. Based on class discussion and the evidence they collect throughout the lesson, students will make an informed decision regarding their opinion about North Carolina’s proposed new voter ID bill. The lesson will culminate with students examining North Carolina’s decision regarding the bill.