Teaching Current Events: Democracy and Civic Engagement

Democracies across the globe are increasingly fragile. Examine the health of democracy, voting and elections, and the pivotal role civic participation of young people plays.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement
Race in US History

The Hope and Fragility of Democracy in the United States

In this Teaching Idea, students learn about the history of democratic and anti-democratic efforts in the United States and examine sources that illuminate this tension from Reconstruction through today.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Pulse Check: Classrooms Across America Respond

In the week since an extremist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and staged a chaotic insurrection that shocked the nation, outrage, concern, and confusion have continued to make headlines. But amid the upheaval, students and teachers have continued to come together in classrooms and virtual learning spaces for daily lessons and instruction.

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On-Demand Webinar
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Current Events in Your Classroom

In this webinar, we discuss tips for making meaningful connections between current events and your curriculum and strategies for navigating partisan politics in diverse classrooms.

Teaching Idea
Race in US History
Democracy & Civic Engagement

What Happened During the Insurrection at the US Capitol and Why?

This Teaching Idea guides students to use an iceberg diagram to synthesize the events of January 6, 2021, and outline the complex array of causes at work.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement
Race in US History

Responding to the Insurrection at the US Capitol

This Teaching Idea is designed to help guide an initial classroom reflection on the insurrection at the US Capitol that occurred on January 6, 2021.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Pause

Pause. Take a breath. In the past few years and, more urgently, in the past months and weeks, some Americans have used the language of division to describe the United States—a "divided society." We are and have been. Using these kinds of labels helps, I think, because they allow us to begin giving language to our problems and then open up possible solutions. We have many fractures. There's not one thing that divides us. In other countries, people speak more freely of identity-based conflicts—sectarian, racial, and ethnic. We, too, have identity-based conflicts—this is one legacy of our unredressed history of racial injustice, violence, and oppression. We are also divided by additional vectors of inequality and we are divided by partisanship.

Teaching Idea
Race in US History
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Reflecting on George Floyd’s Death and Police Violence Towards Black Americans

This Teaching Idea is a guide for teachers to begin conversations with their students about George Floyd’s death and the events that surround it.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Assessing the Strength of Democracy

This Teaching Idea provides students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of democracy and a framework for making meaning of news stories about the tensions and conflicts in democracies today.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Responding to the 2020 US Presidential Election

This Teaching Idea contains guidance on how to discuss the election with your students and activities to help them process their responses, find accurate information, and consider the impact of the results.

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Democracy & Civic Engagement

Student Journaling During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Journals provide students with space to process their thoughts, feelings, and uncertainties during this difficult time. Use the tips and writing prompts in this resource to help your students establish a practice of journaling.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

COVID-19: How Can We Make Choices That Promote The Common Good?

This Teaching Idea features Google Slides with activities that prompt students to reflect on the difficult ethical questions we’re all facing during the coronavirus crisis.

Teaching Idea
Race in US History
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Understanding #TakeaKnee and Athlete Activism

Explore the origin and legacy of the Take A Knee protest in the NFL, the significance of the more recent athlete boycotts, and the long history of athletes protesting racial injustice in the United States.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Navigating November 4th

As we await the outcome of last night’s presidential election, teachers are faced with unique challenges. Many questions surface: How do we process the diverse range of reactions that these events may provoke in our students?

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Time to Boost Media Literacy

In these days leading up to the 2020 presidential election, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the ceaseless stream of conflicting information issuing from all quarters.

Explainer
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Explainer: Free and Fair Elections

This Explainer describes the standards that governments need to meet before, during, and after an election to ensure that the election is "free and fair."

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

How Can We Evaluate If an Election Is Free and Fair?

This Teaching Ideas uses our Free and Fair Elections Explainer to help students reflect on the importance of elections, define the phrase “free and fair elections,” and learn about electoral systems in their region.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Young Poll Workers as Upstanders

Across the United States, people are gearing up for Election Day on November 3, 2020 in the midst of continuing cultural, social, and political upheavals.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Voting Rights in the United States

Use this Teaching Idea during the 2020 election season to help students explore the expansion and constriction of voting rights throughout US history.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Making Sense of the Debate: 6 Resources

The history of debate and civil discourse between candidates running for political office in the United States has long been held up as a pillar of our elections process and our democracy. Typically used as a means to debate policy publicly, defend positions, and appeal to voters, debates bring candidates into the same space and ask them to adhere to a set of agreed upon rhetorical rules of engagement.

Explainer
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Explainer: Political Polarization in the United States

This Explainer defines the term political polarization and provides information on how it impacts US politics and society.

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Democracy & Civic Engagement

Plan Ahead With Our Teacher Checklist

View our teacher checklist for preparing to teach current events to middle and high school students. We include recommended news sources, key questions to ask yourself as you plan, and strategies for navigating emotionally difficult or complex topics.

PDF
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter?

The ideas and tools in this guide will help you prepare students to engage in reflective conversations on topics that matter, whether you are in a remote, hybrid, or in-person setting.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement
Media Literacy

How to Read the News Like a Fact Checker: a Media Literacy Strategy

Reading “laterally” is a key media literacy strategy that helps students determine the quality of online sources. This Teaching Idea trains students to use this technique to evaluate the credibility of the news they encounter on social media feeds or elsewhere online.

Teaching Idea
Media Literacy

Where Do We Get Our News and Why Does It Matter?

Explore media bias using recent news coverage of controversial events and help students think about what healthy news habits they want to adopt.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Why We're Polarized: A Review of Ezra Klein's Book

The 2020 election has been conspicuously different from past presidential campaigns.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

How Do We Talk About Issues that Matter?

How do we talk about issues that matter? The exchange of ideas, perspectives and arguments is essential to democracy and humane societies.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

#DefundThePolice?

As the George Floyd protests continue in cities around the country, debate continues to mount about the future of policing. A wide network of activist groups have been calling for the nation’s police departments to be defunded, insisting that attempts at incremental reform have failed and alternative approaches to public safety must be implemented.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Looking Back and Forward this Fall

Prepare to discuss current events themes from spring and summer 2020 including the Black Lives Matter movement, monument removal, global responses to COVID-19, and changes to elections around the world. See articles sharing perspectives that educators might consider as they prepare to greet students and colleagues.

Unit
Democracy & Civic Engagement
Media Literacy
Race in US History

Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in a Digital Age

Help students become informed and effective civic participants in today's digital landscape. This unit is designed to develop students' critical thinking, news literacy, civic engagement, and social-emotional skills and competencies.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Reflecting on Juneteenth

Described as a second independence day, June 19th or Juneteenth marks the day that emancipation reached slaves in the furthest reaches of the South.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

What it Takes to Be an Upstander

Marti Tippens Murphy, Executive Director of Facing History and Ourselves Memphis, recently reflected upon the nature of upstanding and what it demands of us in these times in 

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Coronavirus: Protect Yourself and Stand Against Racism

This Teaching Idea provides facts about the new coronavirus and allows students to explore instances of discrimination related to COVID-19.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement
Justice & Human Rights

The Equal Rights Amendment: A 97-Year Struggle

This teaching idea provides an overview of the ERA and a look at the history behind the struggle to ratify the amendment that would formally guarantee women equal rights to men under the US Constitution.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

How the World Votes: The Iowa Caucuses and Voter Representation

The Iowa caucuses are the first chance voters in the US have to cast a ballot in support of a presidential candidate. Help students understand how the caucuses work, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of voting in person, and explore the question of whether Iowa should be the first state to vote.

Teaching Idea
Race in US History
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Responding to #LivingWhileBlack

Help students develop a framework for analyzing and discussing the incidents of racial bias they’re seeing in the news and on social media.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

How the World Votes: India’s Election and Access to Polling Places

Explore ideas around access to voting by learning about India’s general election and the country’s commitment to ensuring that all voters are close to a polling station.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Civic Action Meets Civic Education in Colombia

As historians, we have worked for a long time with Colombian school teachers on peace and citizenship education, both during their graduate degrees and through the implementation of official programs and projects in schools. Accordingly, the national strike is of great importance for us.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Teaching Impeachment Amid Polarization

As public presidential impeachment hearings begin in the US House of Representatives, American middle and high school educators face a number of unique challenges. Here are 4 strategies that can help you make the impeachment inquiry a teachable moment.

Teaching Idea
Race in US History
Democracy & Civic Engagement
Justice & Human Rights

The Debate over Reparations for Racial Injustice

With reparations in the news, this Teaching Idea helps students define the term, learn what forms reparations can take, and consider what reparations should be offered for slavery and other racist policies.

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Media Literacy

Partner Resource: Checkology

Our partners at the News Literacy Project developed the media literacy resource Checkology, a set of lessons designed to help students learn how to critically evaluate and interpret news sources.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Young People Stand Up Against Climate Change

Explore with your students why young people are calling for action against climate change and some of the strategies they can use to make a difference on this issue.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Making Room at the Table

Teach students about Representative Shirley Chisholm’s groundbreaking career and connect her story to today’s 116th Congress—the most diverse federal legislative body in US history.

Teaching Idea
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Youth Taking Charge! Placing Student Activism in Historical Context

Many students considered participating in the national school walkouts to protest gun violence following the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Use this teaching idea to explore the rich history of youth activism from the 1960s to present day. You'll prepare them to think critically as they examine current events through a historical lens and equip them with tools and strategies to engage in difficult conversations.

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