Hi, my name is Rachel Collishaw. I’m a teacher and education specialist at Elections Canada. In this video, I’ll be showing you how you can teach "Civic Action: Then and Now."
How can you take action to make a difference? That’s the inquiry question that students explore in Civic Action: Then and Now. They learn about citizens in the past who have successfully taken action to make change and how they can take action themselves.
We start with the minds on, the first part of the three-part lesson structure that’s embedded in all of our activities.
These first five minutes help students connect their own experiences to the big idea of the lesson. In this minds on activity, students reflect and write quietly in response to these questions.
Students usually have a pretty good idea of what they would like to change, and they usually have some experience with how to change things.
If some students are stuck, you can always have them share their ideas with a partner or ask a few students to share with the whole class to get them started. But you don’t want to spend too much time in the minds on, it’s really just a quick introduction. We’ll come back to what they want to change again at the end of the lesson, but for now we’re going to focus on how change can happen as we move into the activity part of the lesson.
Start by showing the short videos to introduce the case studies.
You can use one or both case studies. The women’s case study is a great example of how citizens made change when they didn’t have the right to vote. Students can usually connect with that story. The Aboriginal Rights case study is a good choice if you’re looking for some really inspiring Indigenous content. The activity will work either way, but you know your students and your curriculum best.
Students will now work together in small groups. Each group gets the activity board and a set of case study cards.
When you order the kit, you’ll get enough for one classroom working in small groups. If you need more materials, everything is also available to download and print from our website.
On the board, you’ll see that there are four ways to take civic action: on your own, with a group, with public support and through the political system.
It’s a good idea to review some of the examples from the videos to help students understand the different ways of taking civic action.
Students now work together to read aloud the cards and discuss where they might go on the board. To make sure all students are participating, I recommend having one student deal out the cards so that everyone is responsible to read aloud a few. If your students need literacy support, you can order the language-learner version of the resource.
Where they place the cards is not that important, though we do provide a potential response guide. What is important is what they are saying while they place the cards. How are they listening to each other’s points of view? How are they making their voices heard? This is a great opportunity to do some observational assessment of collaboration or oral language skills.
Some groups will finish before others, and you can help them extend their thinking by introducing them to the consolidation questions.
To consolidate the learning, give students a few minutes in their small groups to discuss the questions. Have them designate someone to speak on behalf of their group.
It’s important to have students discuss their ideas in their small group first; this is where the important learning conversations happen and it gives all voices the chance to be heard. Then, have groups share their thinking with the class to hear even more voices. They usually come to the conclusion that all four ways to take action are important in creating change.
Finally, students return to the minds on question.
Now they have a template to plan their own civic actions, a bridge between their ideas and their solutions.
They are starting to understand that change is not just because of one person, one group, or one action, but that citizens can act in lots of ways to make it happen. We are also hoping that they will begin to make the connection between their own lives and the political system, and to see how they can engage in it.
The ultimate goal is that students will gain a more nuanced understanding of how citizens can take action to make change, and that they will begin to see their own place in that change.
One of the things that I love about this activity is that I see the model for civic action everywhere—in my community and around the world. Once students understand the model, it’s a great way to help them analyze local, national and global events and really get beyond the headlines and connect to the issues that they care about as young citizens and future voters.
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