10 Questions for Young Changemakers

Social Studies
US History

Essential Question

The following essential questions provide a framework for exploring this unit’s main ideas and themes:

  • How can young people change the world?
  • How can we use digital media effectively and safely when we "choose to participate"?


This unit, developed in collaboration with the Democratic Knowledge Project at Harvard University, focuses on two cases of student activism: the 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott and the movement against gun violence launched by Parkland high school students in 2018. The two cases differ in terms of social and historical context, organization and strategy, and the consequences faced by student participants. Parkland students’ activism greatly benefited from the use of social media, marking a new high point for young people’s civic-political participation in the digital age. The Chicago school boycott, relatively less well known and of a different time, also reveals critical elements of young people’s civic-political participation. Both cases offer students the opportunity to reflect on and gain insight into their own civic participation in the world today. When examining each, we can ask, for example: What did the students want to achieve? What were the risks? Was it worth it? What counts as success? And what can we learn from their example?


Democracy & Civic Engagement

Get Started

Prepare to teach this unit by learning about the 10 Questions Framework, how to address current and controversial issues in the classroom, and more.

Lesson 1 of 4
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Getting to Know the 10 Questions

Students begin thinking about civic engagement in terms of their own passions and identities as they are introduced to the 10 Questions Framework.

Lesson 2 of 4
Democracy & Civic Engagement

10 Questions for the Past: The 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott

Students explore the strategies, risks, and historical significance of the the 1963 Chicago school boycott, while also considering bigger-picture questions about social progress.

Lesson 3 of 4
Democracy & Civic Engagement

10 Questions for the Present: Parkland Student Activism

Students identify strategies and tools that Parkland students have used to influence Americans to take action to reduce gun violence.

Lesson 4 of 4
Democracy & Civic Engagement

10 Questions for the Future: Student Action Project

Students create a plan for enacting change on an issue that they are most passionate about using the 10 Questions Framework.

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