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Generation Citizen
Academic Curriculum
Mission of Generation Citizen:
Generation Citizen promotes civic engagement among underrepresented youth populations through
an innovative, action-based curricular approach. Generation Citizen works to expand democratic
participation into populations that have been historically under-exposed or actively excluded from
the political process through empowering young people to actively participate in the political
Vision of Generation Citizen:
Generation Citizen envisions a country in which each young person, regardless of race or class, has
the ability to effectively participate in the political process as an active citizen, capable of
advocating forcefully on behalf of themselves and their community.
The Generation Citizen Curriculum:
Generation Citizen has developed a rigorous and engaging curriculum that pairs college mentors
(teachers, college students, community leaders, etc…) with high school students for 2-4 hours
per week. Focused on both classroom instruction and action-based work, the Generation Citizen
curriculum has been reviewed by academics and educators, and is aligned with state standards
and grade span expectations.
Through the curriculum, mentors will work with students to:
• Develop civic knowledge: Students will be familiar with the history and processes of
American democracy, as well as the meaning and value of engaged citizenship.
• Build civic skills: Students will be proficient in a core set of skills and competencies
required for effective political action.
• Cultivate civic motivation: Students will come to believe in their capacity to make a
difference, and will recognize their potential roles as catalysts for change.
Curriculum Overview:
The curriculum for Generation Citizen is designed for a 5-unit, 24-lesson, semester-long course
of study. This will occur over the course of 12 weeks, with 2 individual sections occurring each
week. Generation Citizen is taught twice a week in hour increments over the course of a
semester. It is taught by intensively trained college student volunteers (college mentors) during
the school day, complementing and bolstering existing U.S. History or civics courses. The
primary teacher will remain in the classroom for the duration of the Generation Citizen program,
and collaborate closely with the college mentors.
Unlike many afterschool civic engagement programs—which have minimal academic rigor and
structure due to persistent student attrition and turnover—Generation Citizen has rigorous
expectations for student engagement and performance, and has highly structured outcome goals.
The curriculum’s five units align closely with existing social studies standards for state education
systems, and can supplant sections of social studies coursework.
The curriculum nevertheless maintains a certain level of flexibility in order to engage and adapt
to student voices regarding areas of action. The program requires that the high school students
choose their own action area that reflects their needs, interests, and community dynamic.
College mentors will facilitate the classes and assist students in formulating an effective action
plan. While innovation in instruction may take place at times, college mentors will be required to
follow the provided class lesson plans as closely as possible. Sample lesson plans are included
and will be distributed for each class listed below.
The curriculum follows a logical progression that allows students to continually build on the
knowledge and training they acquire throughout the semester. It was developed after
consultation with numerous civics and education experts, seeking to improve and expand on
other civic educational initiatives.
1. Unite One consists of an interactive dialogue, which will guide students as they choose
an issue or action area that is important to them, and on which they will focus for the rest
of the semester.
2. Unit Two focuses on civic knowledge, and aims to provide students with a fundamental
understanding of American democratic society and the role of civic engagement within it.
3. Unit Three encourages students to use their civics knowledge base as the background for
a training on grassroots advocacy, which will inform them in their efforts to take
effective action on issues they care about.
4. Unit Four focuses on further dissecting the issues that the students have previously
explored. It will culminate with the students actually selecting an issue on which to take
5. Unit Five allows students to utilize their acquired civic knowledge and civic skills to
formulate and implement an action plan on an issue of their selection. Students will learn
about the political process through actually participating in the political process, and will
be motivated to continue their involvement in the political process.
While the curriculum is structured around a semester long course, the goal is for students to
continue their involvement as motivated and civically engaged youth after the course has ended.
Mentors and classroom teachers will seek to encourage this sustained political involvement
throughout the semester.
Generation Citizen is offered during the school day as a regular class, usually as a complement to
an existing social studies or U.S. History class. To this end, students should work with teachers
to formulate an effective assessment module. Each class’ assessment should be implemented by
the teacher; college mentors should not be responsible for carrying out the assessment.
Because Generation Citizen is an interactive class, we tend to stay away from tests, quizzes, and
other formulaic assessments. Other possible avenues for assessment include oral work, group
participation rubrics, homework, and final individual projects.
Teacher and College Mentor Collaboration:
Each classroom will be assigned two college mentors, who will have received extensive training
and assessment before entering the classroom. The college mentors will be responsible for
planning and implementing every lesson, and will be accountable to Generation Citizen
coordinators and staff. College mentors will also undergo extensive local background checks
before they can enter the classroom, and will register with the appropriate school district.
Mentors should collaborate closely with teachers throughout the entire process. A teacher should
ALWAYS be present in the room, throughout the course. A contract will be signed at the
beginning of each semester detailing the exact relationship. Teachers and mentors should meet
on their own at least once per week to go over lesson plans, student progress, assign homework
and assessments, and reflect on the past week of lessons. The mentor-teacher relationship should
be collaborative in nature; the teachers will benefit from passionate college students who will
help the high school students take effective action, while the teachers will help the college
students learn about the intricacies of teaching.
Generation Citizen only entails 24 classes over the course of a semester, and attempts to cover a
significant amount of ground. Thus, homework may be necessary, both to allow college mentors
to cover all the ground necessary, and to ensure the academic rigorous nature of the course.
College mentors should work with classroom teachers to identify appropriate homework
assignments for each class.
Homework assignments can include, but are not limited to, governmental knowledge worksheets,
analyzing relevant current event newspaper articles, interviewing others about current events,
and essays on relevant issues and topics. Homework should be included as part of the
assessment for the course.
Other Relevant Activities:
In addition to the lesson plans outlined in the curriculum, Generation Citizen encourages other
relevant activities that lend themselves to the ultimate goals of the course: developing civic
knowledge, motivation, and skills. These activities can be done on a daily basis, or dispersed
throughout the course. They include, but are not limited to:
Reading and analyzing newspaper articles on current events:
College mentors can select and distribute relevant newspaper articles that focus on events and
issues important to the students. Students should be required to read the article in depth, analyze
the important components, and offer their own opinions.
Critical Thinking Journals:
College mentors can also distribute journals, requiring students to think critically and write about
important political issues, reflective quotes, or their thoughts on grassroots advocacy. College
mentors should be required to engage with the students in their journals, asking the students
questions and encouraging them to think critically about important issues.
Civic Engagement Games and Simulations:
There are a number of civic engagement games and simulations that will help to add to the
overall experience of the class. These include “Political Bingo”, which tests basic civics
knowledge, mock judicial trials and congressional hearings, and other grassroots games.
Unit I:
An Introduction to Generation Citizen: A Dialogue on Community Issues
The first unit of the semester is designed to engage the students in issues pertaining to civics and
government, and motivate them to actively recognize the importance that the issues play in their
everyday lives. Too often, civics is thought of as a dry subject matter; this unit should be utilized
to strongly encourage student interaction and to encourage them to recognize the fact that civics
and policy issues are pertinent and can be exciting subjects.
To this end, the first unit will focus on public issues of interest and importance to the high school
students. An interactive dialogue will be the primary means of instruction; college mentors will
facilitate a peer-to-peer discussion of policy issues in a productive manner. College mentors will
ensure that the students stay on target, recognize the viewpoints and perspectives of others, avoid
polarizing topics, and analyze how their concern for those issues relates to the larger theme of
Prior to beginning the dialogue, the students will be introduced to the scope and mission of the
project, and engage in icebreaker activities to become more comfortable interacting among
themselves, an d with the college mentors. The mentors will also lead a discussion of the
guidelines for the dialogue, including respecting all opinions, engaging in respectful debate, and
thinking before expressing a viewpoint.
Through the dialogue, students will be encouraged to discuss issues of concern that are found
within the scope of their school, city, state, country, and world. A key part of their discussion
will focus on how, and which, governmental institutions can help solve those problems.
Students will learn to recognize the role they play as individuals, how to take action and
influence change within the context of the democratic system.
The student dialogue will encourage all students to voice their opinions. In addition to sharing
their own views on the issues presented, students will be required to interview others (parents,
teachers, leaders, peers, professionals) to learn about their opinions on these issues. They will
also be required to do outside research on relevant issues, including bringing in and presenting
newspaper articles, and conducting effective research using the Internet.
The unit will serve introduce the goals and mission of the program, as well as stimulate the
students to participate in the dialogue, and recognize the role that government plays in their
everyday lives.
1) Students will review, discuss, and understand issues that affect them as citizens,
2) Students will determine ways they can take action to make a difference to those issues as
3) Students will hold a dialogue on issues that they care about in their school, community,
and world.
4) Students will learn how to hold a productive and respectful debate on policy issues.
5) Students will learn to appreciate multiple perspectives on the same issues.
6) Students will recognize that they have the power, and responsibility, to take action on
these issues.
Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations
C&G 3 (9-12) 1.c,d; C&G 3 (9-12) 2.a,c,d; C&G 4 (9-12) 1.e; C&G 4 (9-12) 2.a;
Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for History and Social Science
Class 1: What is Generation Citizen?
Lesson Overview: Students will become familiar with the college mentors, and will learn more
about the program. Mentors will describe the curriculum and the process the students will take
throughout the semester. Mentors will also talk about why the process of learning and
participating in a democracy is so important. Mentors will also spend the first class becoming
familiar and comfortable with the high school students through a variety of ice-breaker games
relevant to society issue areas and participating in a democracy.
Class 2: What Issues Do You Care About?
Lesson Overview: Students will start to discuss issues concerning the school, city, country, and
world. Students will set the framework for an interactive conversation focusing on issues that
are important to them, and begin to have a dialogue on these issues. Mentors will guide this
process, but allow the students to raise questions and issues on their own. In this exercise,
students will be challenged to appreciate different viewpoints and perspectives, and to think
As an introduction to the lesson, mentors will discuss basic debate protocol, including how to
converse and debate in a professional, intelligent manner. This should be emphasized as the
dialogue unfolds: students should be reminded constantly to discuss issues in a respectful manner
that allows for divergent perspectives to be introduced.
Class 3: Which Issues do We Care About Most?
Lesson Overview: Students will continue their work on the dialogue, further investigating issues
of interest. College mentors will bring in articles or studies to class that discuss public problems
that were introduced in an earlier class. The dialogue will conclude with a final summary and
overview of the various issues. Students will recognize the variety of issues that were raised, and
begin to think about which issue they feel most strongly invested in pursuing for the remainder
of the semester.
Unit II:
Learning about Democracy and Active Citizenship: The Governmental Process
During this second unit in the course, students will learn basic civics knowledge of the
composition and function of the U.S. government. The unit is essential towards providing basic
background knowledge for the rest of the course; it is necessary for students to understand how
the governmental process works before they can effectively take action. It will also build on the
first unit; students will understand how the issues they discussed fit into the larger governmental
While this unit does focus on acquiring basic civic knowledge, it will be done in the context of
discussing the community problems that emerged during the dialogue. Specific emphasis will be
placed on individual roles and responsibilities in American democracy, rather than solely
covering basic facts and structures.
The second unit will begin with an overview of the functions and structure of the American
government. The three branches of government will be explored in depth, focusing on roles of
each in forming, interpreting, and implementing policy. The branches will be studied in depth, so
that students understand how government exists from the national level to the local level. The
process of how a bill becomes a law will also be explored, using real-world and current examples
to illustrate the process. The number of public officials that represent the public interests will be
emphasized in order to emphasize the number of avenues that students have to influence the
democratic process.
After learning the basic framework of the American political system, students will critically
investigate the individual citizen’s role in a democracy. Students will reflect on how citizens
can, and should, impact the political process. Finally, they will investigate their own civic
minded actions, and whether or not they have actively engaged in the political process.
This unit will complement the basic learning of civic knowledge with the critical examination of
the individual’s role in the American democratic system. College mentors will continually refer
to the issues that emerged from the dialogue into the discourse so that students can see how real
community issues can be dealt with in the political arena.
This unit should set the tone for the rest of the course; students will be able to understand how to
utilize their political knowledge as they begin to take action.
1) Students will learn the functions and composition of the American government, through
various interactive and thought-provoking activities.
2) Students will demonstrate an understanding of United States government (local, state,
national) by analyzing the basic structures of government in the U.S. and identifying and
describing ways in which people gain or fail to gain access to the institutions of the
3) Students will demonstrate an understanding of citizens’ rights and responsibilities and
recognize the individual citizen’s role in government.
4) Students will understand the functions of the branches of government, and identify the
public officials that represent their interests.
Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations
C&G 2 (9-12) 1.b,c; C&G 2 (9-12); C&G 3 (9-12) 1.a,c,d; C&G 4 (9-12) 1.a; C&G 4 (9-12)
2.a,b,c; C&G 5 (9-12) 3.a
Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for History and Social Science
Class 4: What is a Democracy?
Lesson Overview: As a transition between the dialogue on issues and the overview of the
political process, students will interactively explore how community problems can be solved in a
democratic system. Students will learn about the different forms of government, and the unique
components of a democracy. They will learn the definitions of important government terms,
including federalism, constitutionalism, and republic. They will discuss, in a historical context,
why the United States became a democracy.
Students will learn the differences between civil society, the private sphere, and public policy.
Students will identify which part of society solves specific public problems based on specific
roles and functions. Students will then discuss the benefits of focusing on government action
through public policy
Class 5: How does the American Democratic System Work?
Lesson Overview: After learning about the characteristics of a democracy, and the differences
between civil society and public policy, students will begin to more concretely explore the
democratic system.
They will learn the characteristics of the branches of government, and explore the concept of
elected representatives. They will learn the names and functions of their political
representatives, and recognize the difference between federal and local officials. Through this
context, students will explore which officials are responsible for national issues, and which focus
on local problems.
Class 6: How Can Individuals Influence the Democratic Process?
Lesson Overview: Students will go over the process of a bill becoming law, tracing the steps
through all three branches of government. This will be done in an interactive way, utilizing
students as the different governmental entities responsible for the process. A real bill, based on
the issues the students have been talking about, should be utilized.
Students will then reflect critically on their overview of the political process. They will explore
how individuals can be involved in the political process, and discuss what it means to be an
involved citizen.
Class 7: How Have Students Made a Difference Historically?
Lesson Overview: To conclude the unit on the overview of the democratic process, students will
learn about successful student activist movements, past and present. They will explore the Civil
Rights Movement, and specifically, the Greensboro sit-ins, led by students to protest racediscrimination policies. Students will also hear and read about current policy issues, ranging
from global warming to the conflict in Darfur. Students will then critically discuss the success of
student activism, and whether it continues to be important. This lesson is meant to inspire
students, as they begin to recognize that they can make a difference on issues they care about.
Unit III:
Deciding on a Public Issue
In this unit, students will further explore the primary issues that emerged from the initial issues
dialogue, and choose from among the topics discussed an issue they all care particularly about.
The issue selection process will stem from a student discussion about the topics covered in their
previous dialogue. The selection of the issue will set the framework for action, which will occur
throughout the rest of the semester.
Mentors will lead a discussion focusing on how a group of individuals can come to consensus on
a given issue. This is intended to introduce basic consensus-building techniques. The students
will then use these skills to pick one issue of the public policies problems that surfaced during
the dialogue.
Another focus of the unit is to critically analyze public policy issues, and to recognize that public
issues are inherently complex; they cannot be boiled down to simple black or white arguments.
In order to examine pertinent issues, mentors will narrow down the various issues that students
focused on during the dialogue. The students will critically examine and dissect the various
issues, and mentors will help the students discuss several potentially achievable goals for each
Students will recognize that it is important that any issue they choose should have some
attainable policy change. This is important due to the fact that students cannot be expected to
completely solve an issue over the course of a semester. Rather, they should engage in the
policy problem, learn from the experience, and achieve a smaller goal during the process.
After carefully considering the main issues that emerged during the dialogue, the students will
reach a consensus on an issue on which to take action. This will occur after students discuss
amongst themselves the importance of working on specific issues. Factors that will be
considered in the selection of an issue include its importance to the students’ everyday lives,
action already being taken, and the potential of students to actually make a difference through
their action. The high school students will work on this issue for the duration of the semester.
1) Students will pick a community issue that they care about, and discover how they can use
their knowledge of the political process to make a difference on the issue.
2) Students will discuss political issues in-depth and learn the complexities of community
3) Students will recognize the advantages and disadvantages of taking action on specific
4) Students will demonstrate their participation in political processes by using collaborative
decision making/problem solving to consider multiple perspectives on a current political
or social issue.
5) Students will analyze multiple perspectives on an historical or current controversial
Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations
C&G 3 (9-12) 1.c,d; C&G 3 (9-12) 2.a,c,d; C&G 4 (9-12) 1.e; C&G 4 (9-12) 2.a,b;
Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for History and Social Science
Class 8: Where Can we Make a Difference?
Lesson Overview: Students will begin the process of determining the issue that they will focus on
as a class. In order to do this, mentors will help the students identify the more important and
pressing issues that emerged during the dialogue. The students will play the main role in
determining these issues.
After being divided into groups, the class will then further dissect the top 3-4 issues. They will
determine the root causes of the public problem, the societal consequences, and the possible
solutions. In order to do so, they will read policy papers, newspaper articles, and discuss their
opinions among themselves. This lesson will encourage students to recognize the nuances
behind public policy problems, and begin to think about where they can utilize their knowledge
and skill set to make a difference.
Class 9: What Issue Will we Focus On?
Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will actually choose the issue that they will focus on
for the rest of the semester. In order to do so, they will utilize knowledge they have acquired
throughout the course on the democratic process in order to attempt to reach a consensual, or at
least democratic, decision.
The class will first hold a dialogue in which the students voice which issue they feel that they
should take action on, based on the previous class analysis they conducted. Each pre-determined
group will be allowed to give a pitch on the topic of their choice. The class will then either reach
a consensus-conclusion, or will have a vote on the issue.
Mentors will talk about the importance of working on one issue as a class, especially if some
students lose out on their choice. It is important to consolidate group opinion moving forward to
the action-based component of the curriculum.
Unit IV:
Learning Grassroots Advocacy
In the fourth unit, students will receive training on grassroots organizing around community
issues. College mentors will take students through a process that allows them to recognize how
they can use their knowledge of government to affect the political decision making process. The
training will be based on materials and expertise from various national and local grassroots
advocacy organizations.
The grassroots advocacy training will address the steps that individuals need to take to encourage
public officials to take action on an issue. Students will learn they need to galvanize a widerange of support for their issue; i.e., building political will. They will then learn how to utilize
this political will through advocating to elected officials, holding events, and eliciting media
attention. All of the training will build on earlier material from the class; students will recall
how a bill becomes law, and then learn how they can use their role as individual citizens to make
a difference in that process.
In order to carry out the training, college mentors will help students through role-playing
activities, including mock lobbying meetings and press conferences. The training will be done in
the context of the issue they have selected; students will begin to think about how they will be
able to use the skills from the training to take effective action on their chosen community
Students will recognize how they need to utilize their knowledge of the framework and structure
of government in order to be effective grassroots advocates. They will also constantly be
applying their selected issue into the grassroots advocacy framework, organically developing an
action plan.
1) Students will learn grassroots advocacy skills that allow them to participate as active,
engaged citizens in the democratic process.
2) Students will learn how they can make a difference on issues important to them in their
3) Students will learn how civics knowledge can be used in the real world to take effective
action on community issues.
4) Students will learn basic civics skills, including the essentials of lobbying a legislative
official, obtaining press, organizing a rally or event, and holding a petition drive.
5) Students will think critically on how they can use their training on grassroots advocacy to
apply strategies to take action on their own selected issue.
Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations
C&G 4 (9-12) 1.e; C&G 4 (9-12) 2.a,b
Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for History and Social Science
Class 10: What is Grassroots Advocacy?
Lesson Overview: Students will learn about the importance of grassroots advocacy, and how they
can apply it to their own selected issue. Students will learn the definition of grassroots advocacy,
discuss how to effectively influence the policymaking process they have learned about, and
begin to determine how they can use its principles to take action on their selected issue.
Students will learn about the basic framework of grassroots advocacy that they will apply to their
issue throughout the semester.
Class 11: How Can we Research our Issue?
Lesson Overview: Students will begin to conduct their “pre-action” on their issue. Students will
learn about the first tenet of grassroots advocacy: researching the issue. They will go over the
basic research questions that have to be answered before taking action on a given issue.
The students will then begin to conduct research on their selected issue by reading over position
papers, talking to peers, members of the community, and experts. The research component is
integral towards the rigor of the class, and may be supplemented by time after school as well.
The mentors will help with this process throughout.
The students will then analyze how the research they conduct answers the research questions
they have identified. Finally, the students will recognize that policy is complex, that divergent
views exist for any issue, and begin to develop their own opinions and solutions, based on their
Class 12: How Can we Frame our Issue?
Lesson Overview: Students will discuss the importance of getting others to care about their
chosen issue, and learn about the concept of “self-interest” in organizing. They will learn that it
is crucial to convince others that taking action on a specific issue is actually in their best
interests, as well as helpful for larger beneficial societal repercussions.
Students will articulate their own “stories” of the issue; why they personally care about it. They
will then merge these individual stories with tactics to engage a larger segment of society.
Class 13: How Can we Mobilize Others?
Lesson Overview: Reflecting on their previous class, which focused on framing issues, students
will discuss different ways to mobilize support for public policy problems. This will include
traditional notions of canvassing and phone banking, and more modern applications, like
Facebook, MySpace, etc.
Students will then begin to discuss and formulate a mobilization strategy for their specific issue,
discussing how to get their peers and community members active on their specific issue.
Class 14: How Can we Influence Elected Officials?
Lesson Overview: After having learned about the “pre-action” component to affecting policy
change, students will now learn about the “action” component; specifically, lobbying individual
legislators or local officials. Students will discuss why influencing elected officials is important,
and then learn specific techniques for doing so, including contacting them, meeting with them,
and indirect methods, including getting media attention and holding events.
Students will discuss how these strategies will be relevant for their individual issue.
Class 15: Getting Ready to Take Action
Lesson Overview: In preparation for formulating their own action plans, students will begin to
practice certain advocacy techniques. Specifically, they will learn about and hold practicelobbying meetings with legislators, and learn to craft an effective press release for lobbying
Students will begin to comprehensively brainstorm how they will individually take action, using
the techniques they have learned.
Unit V.
Taking Action
In the final unit of the semester, students will use all of their acquired knowledge and skills to
formulate and enact an action plan on their selected issue. While students will not be expected to
“solve” an issue, the action will engage the students, take them outside of the classroom, and
motivate them to succeed and participate in the civic process in the future. To this end, mentors
will help the students identify an attainable policy goal, and take specific tactics that will expose
them to the political process, and result in small-scale victories.
Mentors will help the students to explore further the specific policy complexities of their issue
and research action that has already been taken (by both the government and advocacy groups).
After fully understanding the issue, the students will define a goal that can be accomplished (it
may be smaller in scope than the overall issue) by the students in a relatively short amount of
Students will then formulate an actual action plan relating to the issue they chose earlier in the
course. They will use the training they received during the political organizing section to guide
them as they create their plan of action.
While each issue will require a slightly modified plan, students must include the following
elements: how they will educate the broader public about the issue, how they will get media
attention, how they will influence decision makers, and how they will galvanize public support
for their specific issue.
The creation of the action plan will be a collaborative process that is guided by the college
mentors. It will include clear benchmarks and dates so that the students know when each step
should be accomplished. A concrete timeline should be established and followed.
During this culminating activity, the mentors will help them carry out their plan as closely as
possible, and ensure that each student is following their individual role as specified in the action
plan. It is important that the mentors provide avenues for the students to take action outside of
the classroom. This includes meeting with legislators, taking field trips to the State House, or
City Hall or Board of Education writing opinion articles and publishing them in newspapers, and
interviewing outside organizations. Taking action outside the classroom is essential for the
success of the action plan.
Mentors will help the students deal with setbacks and roadblocks. Students will look for ways to
navigate the tricky political process, but recognize the importance of being flexible in grassroots
organizing, with everyone carrying their weight and doing their job well.
During discussions and closing activities (end-of-day summary), mentors will aid students in
reflecting on the process, as well as how their action relates to the greater concepts of democracy
and active citizenship. Students will discuss how they will be able to achieve their goals and
identify further goals that can be established for this issue to be resolved in the future.
During the final lesson, students will reflect on the overall experience, and discuss avenues to
stay involved in the future. Specifically, mentors should encourage them to talk extensively
about the successes and difficulties encountered during the implementation of their action plan,
as well as what they gained from the experience as a whole. Students should be able to determine
why they were able to achieve their goal(s)..
Mentors will provide a guiding hand to allow the students to recognize how they were able to use
their role as active citizens to make a difference. It is important that students remain motivated
and view their efforts through the lens of long-term democratic change.
Students will also be encouraged to reflect upon how they can continue to remain engaged
citizens. This may include talking about other issues they care about, and how a similar model
of change can be applied to those societal problems.
1) Students will formulate a specific action plan pertinent to their pre-defined class issue
and goals set in the previous unit
2) Students will learn how to carry out and stick to the benchmarks specified by the action
3) Students will learn how to deal with setbacks, and recognize how each step relates to the
greater democratic process.
4) Students will work effectively in a team to accomplish their action plan.
5) Students will engage effectively in the political process after formulation an action plan.
6) Students will recognize that changing policy in the democratic process takes time, and
requires the dedicated work of citizens.
7) Students will become engaged in the process, and reflect on ways to stay involved after
the semester is over.
8) Students will remain motivated to become engaged political citizens.
Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations
C&G 3 (9-12) 1.c; C&G 4 (9-12) 1.e; C&G 4 (9-12) 2.a,b; C&G 3 (9-12) 1.c; C&G 4 (9-12)
1.b,e; C&G 4 (9-12) 2.a,b;
Class 16: Making an Action Plan
Lesson Overview: Students will review their training on grassroots advocacy, and begin to put
their skills to use. They will articulate a specific goal that they hope to achieve through their
work, narrowing down their broader issue. They will then begin to formulate a campaign that
involves every aspect of their training, including framing the issue, mobilizing others, and
influencing legislators.
Students will utilize and fill in a template action plan as they seek to implement their actual
campaign and effectively take action.
Classes 17-23
These classes will be dedicated to actually taking action on the issue selected by the students.
Each class will have a different action experience, reflecting the action plan drafted by the
students and mentors. The action plan might include (but is not limited to) some of the following
Meeting with decision-makers (legislators or local or school officials) to lobby them to
support the student proposed policy change.
Working together to write an opinion article or letter to the editor about the selected issue
in the local paper
Organizing a petition drive for fellow students, family, and neighbors to support action
on the issue
Holding an event (rally, press conference, etc) to raise awareness about the issue.
Attempts to obtain press coverage should accompany any efforts to hold an event.
Organizing an assembly at school to inform and educate peers about the issue
Filming a documentary about the issue which can be shown to peers and community
Partnering with another organization working on the same issue and taking part in their
Teaching a younger class (elementary or middle school) about the issue
Surveying peers and community members on their thoughts of the issue.
In order to take action, mentors will need to do some research on their own time. The research
should include investigating work that has already been done on the issue, proposed policy
solutions, and actions taken by like-minded organizations.
Mentors and teachers should work to ensure that part of the action includes getting outside of the
classroom. This can include a tour of the State House, trips to local non-profit agencies, and
interviewing people in their community about the views on the issue.
Mentors should attempt to fill class-time with as much of the action plan as possible. This will
include producing detailed lesson plans; each class will take action differently. If there are
classes in which the action does not take up the entire period, mentors can choose to implement a
host of other activities, re-enforcing previously learned skills and knowledge (this can include
playing a civics-related game, focusing on the legal branch of government, or reviewing a
dialogue to see if and how students’ perspectives have changed).
Mentors should also help students to prepare for the final presentation, which will allow students
from all different Generation Citizen classes in the area to present the results of their action.
This presentation, which should last between 6-10 minutes, can include speeches by the students,
videos of their efforts and posters highlighting their findings and thoughts on the action.
The action component of the curriculum is crucial to the class’ evolution; it will allow the
students to recognize how the culmination of their civics knowledge, skills, and motivation can
all be employed to make a difference. Mentors should ensure that the action process is
inspirational, and incorporates all members of the class.
Class 24: De-brief
During this culminating lesson, students will reflect on the entire semester-long project. Mentors
will lead a discussion on the successes and difficulties encountered during the implementation of
their action plan. Students will be able to state whether they achieved their goal, and why, or
why not, they were able to do so.
Mentors will provide a guiding hand to allow the students to recognize how they were able to use
their role as active citizens to make a difference. It is important that even if the students did not
achieve their primary goal, they remain motivated and view their efforts through the greater lens
of long-term democratic change.
Students will also reflect upon how they can continue to remain engaged citizens. This can
include talking about other issues they care about, and how a similar model of change can be
applied to those societal problems.
A survey will also be given out to students to finalize the evaluation process.