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.

Webinar
Webinar
July 15, 2021

Cultivating Genius: Learning about Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy with Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Join us for a conversation with Dr. Gholdy Muhammad on culturally and historically responsive literacy.

59:41
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

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.

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.

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. Digital party conventions, canceled swing state rallies, and the ongoing fight over mail-in ballots are just some of the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the usual quadrennial rituals of American politicking.

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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? And how can we do it without venturing into partisan territory that may alienate, divide, and exclude? How can we process our own emotional reactions to these events while still showing up for students?

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. It all began a few months ago, when a teachers’ protest was planned to take place on November 21st.

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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. As the nation continues to grapple with the enduring presence and lasting impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, this election season looks different than those in the past.

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. We are living in what is literally being called a “post-truth” moment and due to the complexity of our tech-mediated lives, it has become harder than ever to determine what information is real and true.

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 The Daily Memphian.

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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. While the Emancipation Proclamation formally freed all slaves in the United States, plantation life continued as though no change had occurred in many parts of the slaveholding South until this day.

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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. As philosopher Hannah Arendt argued in Men in Dark Times, "However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. . . .We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human."

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.

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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.

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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Democracy & Civic Engagement

Inauguration Day 2021: A Turning Point for the Ages

As we approach Inauguration Day on Wednesday, January 20th, we lie at the crossroads of progress and regress; of inclusive representative democracy and mob rule. With so much fear and uncertainty in the air, it is easy to forget the fact that we approach a significant national milestone this week.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Moving Forward, Looking Back: A Reading List

As we pass Inauguration Day, Americans are sitting with a great many feelings. Some may be moving forward with a sense of disappointment and uncertainty while others are basking in the sense of possibility that new beginnings provide. Irrespective of where we lie on this continuum, the events of the last year have revealed to all of us that our democracy is highly fragile and continued civic engagement is required to strengthen its functioning. But in order to move forward, we must be prepared to look backward and plumb the lessons of the past.

Blog
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Making Space for Women's History

The value and relevance of women’s history was in the news in late December 2020 when we learned that a new bill passed, approving the development of what will be the first women’s history museum on the National Mall. The long process that led to this approval, including considerable controversy surrounding the penultimate bill, raises compelling questions about how women’s history is valued and understood, as well as the significance of spaces like museums and monuments in shaping public memory.

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.

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
Race in US History

Kamala Harris, Shirley Chisholm, and the Power of Representation

Use this Teaching Idea to help students learn about Shirley Chisholm’s ground-breaking career and the significance of Vice President Kamala Harris’s election.

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.

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.

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.

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
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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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
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 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.

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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.

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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.

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