Step 4: Choosing to Participate | Facing History & Ourselves
Facing History & Ourselves
Uniformed high school students write at their desks.

Step 4: Choosing to Participate

Students have an opportunity to explore one issue in-depth and to create an action plan that inspires change in their schools or communities.


English — UK


This resource is intended for educators in the United Kingdom.


About This Assessment

The fourth and final project provides students with the opportunity to choose a question, issue, or theme from this scheme of work to explore in depth with a partner or in a group and then present to the class or larger school community. For this project, you might ask students to focus on their school community, neighbourhood, borough, or allow each pair or group to choose the scope of their project.

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Steps for Implementation

At the outset of the project, give students time to quietly review their journals, readings, and notes from this scheme of work. Then in their journals, ask students to brainstorm a list of questions, issues, or themes that they feel passionate about and would like to explore in greater depth.

First in groups and then as a class, have students share their areas of interest. Topics might include (but not be limited to) navigating multi-faceted identities; confronting stereotyping and bullying at school; creating safe inclusive spaces at school and in the local community; calling attention to biases or “single stories” in the curriculum; exploring human rights violations in their community; learning about the role of women at the Battle of Cable Street or at another moment in British history; applying the “levers of power” to an injustice or unfairness they would like to address; or researching one or more local murals to understand the process by which it came to be, its central message, and its artist.

As students share their ideas, record their ideas on the board or flipchart paper.

Then help the students form pairs and small groups based on their areas of interest and explain how you would like them to learn more about their chosen topic (online research, library research, interviews, documentary films, museum visits or neighbourhood walking tours, etc.).

After they have completed their research, consider using the “levers of power” or introduce Danielle Allen’s questions for civil participation in the reading Online Civic Participation and instruct students to create an action plan for how they might call attention to their issue and lead a change effort in their school, community, or world.

Explain to students that for the final step of the project, they will decide how to convey their information to a larger audience. While you might have your own ideas for the finished project, one possibility is they might include some or all of the following elements:

  • A brief statement about the issue, why it matters, and who it impacts
  • Key findings from their research
  • Strategies for how to access one or more “levers of power” or answers to Danielle Allen’s questions for civil participation
  • A statement of their plan of action and desired outcome

Finally, have students decide how they would like to convey their learning in a class or school-wide celebration (e.g. mini exhibition, proposal for a mural, video documentary, podcast, or blog post). Through their presentation, each pair or group should explain why this issue resonates with them and their communities and include an action plan to raise awareness and inspire change.

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Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Most teachers are willing to tackle the difficult topics, but we need the tools.
— Gabriela Calderon-Espinal, Bay Shore, NY