Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Participatory Citizen or Slacker—Which One Will You Be?
Lesson 2:
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Purpose:

In this lesson students will explore and analyze values associated with civic engagement as seen in local and national media.

Duration:

Eight to Ten Sixty-Minute Class Periods

Objectives:

The learner will:

  • critically analyze messages and values associated with civic engagement present in the media.
  • analyze the local community's promotion of values associated with civic engagement by conducting investigative research.
  • explore implications of the promoted values for interaction in and identity of the community through small-group discussions and presentation of conclusions.
  • compare and critique identified values associated with civic engagement with the core democratic values.
  • hypothesize implications of values associated with civic engagement on the practice of democracy on a local and national level.
  • develop a persuasive position statement on civic engagement.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

Students will prepare a position statement concerning civic engagement in the form of an editorial, radio spot or video piece. Public dissemination of this piece will engage students in advocating their position.

Materials:

  • Core Values of American Constitutional Democracy ( Attachment One ), student copies

  • Message and Value Analysis Sheet ( Attachment Two ), double student copies

  • Teacher created data sheet about community needs in the local community (contact the local United Way, Community Foundation or Chamber of Commerce to access local information)

  • Persuasive Rubric ( Attachment Three )

  • Copies of local newspaper/s

  • Audio copies of local radio programming

  • Photos of local billboards

  • Taped television episodes of local, state and world news coverage

  • Taped television episodes of family-oriented sitcoms and reality shows

**Note to Teacher: Try to resist collecting examples that target a specific message or promotion of only one perspective of civic engagement. However, do not ignore explicit messages promoting civic engagement. Careful preview according to the context of the school and knowledge of students you will be working with is needed when making decisions of what to use.

Handout 1
Core Values of American Constitutional Democracy
Handout 2
Message and Values Analysis Sheet
Handout 3
Persuasive Rubric
Handout 4
A Community Scan

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Ask students to think of popular songs often heard on the radio. List these song titles together. Ask students to select one song they are familiar with and have them sing it silently to themselves. When they have finished, ask them to write down the main message of the song in two or three lines on a piece of paper large enough that others can read it from their seat when it is posted on the wall (e.g., “White America” by Eminem – Being racist, sexist and homophobic is okay if it sells records. Kids like what I say because that's what our “white” country is all about.)

When students have finished, ask them to post these on the wall at eye-level height. After everyone has had a chance to do this, ask students to consider all of these messages and pick the one they had the strongest reaction to.

Taking the perspective of an older brother or sister, ask students how they would feel if their younger sister or brother heard this song. Ask them to decide if and how the message is one that is a commonly held belief or value in our society. OR Taking the role of an ambassador of America for a group of visiting foreigners, discuss how you would feel sharing these messages and how you would defend them as commonly held beliefs or values.

Ask students to share their responses. Discuss music and its messages. Do they find them to generally be expressions of positive values or negative ones?

  • Review the role of media-produced messages and their impact on our understanding of ideas associated with civic engagement. Generate examples of advertising and discuss what their implied message is. Collectively decide on what the ad places value on as being important to an individual (e.g., Virginia Slims ad with the tagline “You've Come A Long Way Baby”: the perceived sense of independence and disregard for negative consequences to one's health is more important than practicing a healthy lifestyle or following guidelines meant to protect us).

  • Reconsider the posted messages of value and importance from the songs. Discuss how music can influence one's feelings or understanding of ideas associated with civic engagement. Brainstorm what other forms of media influence values we hold as individuals and as a community.

  • In order to prepare for the next day's class, ask students to watch for billboards on their way home that night, consider what messages and values they are promoting and how those messages may impact the community.

  • Day Two: Discuss the billboard examples, highlighting the value message it sends and how viewers could interpret the community's values and identity from these messages.

  • Distribute Core Values of American Constitutional Democracy ( Attachment One ) and discuss Fundamental Beliefs and Constitutional Principles so that the learners are clear on the difference. List these values where they can be seen easily and saved for future reference throughout this lesson and unit.

  • Divide the class into small groups. Have students analyze a variety of media examples, including examples produced for a local audience and a national audience. The group should complete the Message and Value Analysis Sheet ( Attachment Two ) for each example.

  • Day Three: Continue the work of small groups analyzing media examples (if needed).

  • Day Four: Ask students to share their results by listing

  • the values promoted in the media examples they worked with, and

  • the core values of civic engagement that were not supported in the messages.

  • In a large group discussion, focus on the following questions:

  • Are we, as a community, promoting the core values of civic engagement?

  • If we are, how does this impact our community?

  • If we are, how does this impact the practice of democracy?

  • If we are not, how does this impact our community?

  • If we are not, how does this impact the practice of democracy?

  • Ask students to write an informal response to the following prompt: “Taking on the perspective of a recent immigrant who has sought political asylum in America, if you found yourself confronted with these promoted values associated with civic engagement, would you feel that you were entering a caring, democratic community?”

  • In order to prepare for the next day's class, ask students to reflect on how they are or are not individually supporting the core values of civic engagement.

  • Day Five: Ask the learners how becoming civically engaged impacts other individuals and the community. Have them respond to one of the following scenarios by completing two journal entries for each - from the perspective of a person experiencing the scenario when no one else practices civic engagement, and from the perspective of a person experiencing the scenario when the majority of individuals practice civic engagement.

  • Scenario 1: a person who is left alone when everyone else has been taken away.

Read the following poem, "First They Came for the Jews" by the German anti-Nazi activist, Pastor Martin Niemöller, to the learners.


First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  • Scenario 2: a person who is suddenly evicted, having been laid off a week earlier, with no relatives, where the Housing Authority is full with a three-month waiting list.

  • Scenario 3: a city which decides to use excess tax funds to build the mayor a new house even when the schools have lost federal funding for the school lunch program.

  • As a large group, discuss possible implications of individual participation in civic engagement on the community, as well as lack of individual participation in civic engagement in the community. Remind students to include examples they gathered from their parents or a community member.

  • In order to prepare for the next day's class, ask students to reflect on how their community not only promotes the values of civic engagement but also supports them. Students should choose at least one source of information to review: The Yellow Pages, local city government's website, or one of their own selection, to do this.

  • Day Six: Assign small groups to analyze the data from the teacher created local needs information sheet. Remind students that this will help the group respond to the question: “How does our community not only promote civic engagement but support it as well?”

  • Day Seven: Small groups should share and compare with the whole group their data analysis. As a group, draw conclusions from the information that was compiled.

  • Discuss the possible implications these conclusions hold for the work of the entire community and for individuals who want to commit to participating in civic engagement. Generate “To-Do,” “Stop Doing,” and “Keep Doing” lists for involved parties to sustain and support the continued growth of the community and strength of democratic values.

  • Day Eight: Spend a few minutes reflecting on the lists created by the group yesterday.

Discuss how the collection of ideas and act of critiquing ourselves and the community is an important part of becoming responsible community members. Point out that if individuals would only talk about problems and how to fix them – without acting on these ideas or working for change – the value of this act would be lost.

  • Ask students to think of an event or individual which had a major impact on the development of the country (e.g., Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere and the Minutemen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sojourner Truth). Invite students to hypothesize the consequences of inaction in those events (e.g., What if Dr. Martin Luther King knew that social injustice was wrong, developed ways to promote his belief in equality, but then decided that he should not get involved because he didn't have the time? What if Paul Revere knew that British rule was hampering the possibility for a free country, collaborated with other members of the resistance movement on a plan to create some change, but then decided that he was too tired and old to be involved?).

  • Ask students to consider the power they hold to create change and work for ideas that are important to them. Respond to their own “What if…” effects of not acting on their ideas.

  • Distribute Persuasive Rubric ( Attachment Three ). Go over the criteria with the learners. Have the learners create their own persuasive position statements concerning the value of civic engagement. This informal, draft position statement should include a definition of civic engagement, support for the practice of civic engagement and illustrations of civic engagement. Remind students to consider their informal written responses, group discussions, discussions with parents or other community members, community scan results and other pieces of information that could be referred to in order to create a stronger position statement.

  • Day Nine: Capitalizing upon the ideal of advocating for one's own ideas when change is needed, students will publicly share their position statement on civic engagement. Students could choose to write an editorial to the local newspaper, create a radio spot for a local radio station or an infomercial for a local television station. Explain that sharing this information with the community is an “Experiential Component” where they are doing something for the common good by encouraging active participation in the community.

Assessment:

Student learning will be assessed through participation in discussions and small group work, completion of a community scan and informal presentations of responses. Individual production of a position statement and the effective, persuasive transmission of this position statement will also provide evidence of learning.

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    On Day Three the learners discuss with their parents what values they see as important for community members to hold in order to sustain the community and democracy.

On Day Four the learners ask their parents how they have personally been involved in civic engagement in the community and why they have been involved.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

  • Learners may design positive propaganda posters (e.g., Uncle Sam's “I Want You”) encouraging fellow students to practice civic engagement. These may be posted in the school.

  • Students may shadow/interview someone who is active in civic engagement. They will discover how this participation impacts him or her as an individual community member and the greater community. (Teacher's Note: Students may shadow individuals working at agencies that require parental release forms. Also, find out if your school corporation requires similar release forms before students make final commitments.)

  • Have the students complete the Community Scan ( Attachment Four ) to gain an understanding of their community.

Bibliographical References:

 First They Came for the Jews: http://www.serendipity.li/cda/niemoll.html

Lesson Developed By:

Sarah Erb
Monroe County Schools
Aurora Alternative High School
Bloomington, IN 47404

Handouts:

Handout 1Print Handout 1

Core Values of American Constitutional Democracy

Core democratic values are the fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles of American society which unite all Americans. These values are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and other significant documents, speeches and writings of the nation. Below are some examples of core democratic values.


Fundamental Beliefs
Constitutional Principles
Life Rule of Law
Liberty Separation of Powers
The Pursuit of Happiness Representative Government
Common Good Checks and Balances
Justice Individual Rights
Equality Freedom of Religion
Diversity Federalism
Truth Civilian Control of the Military
Popular Sovereignty  
Patriotism  

Source: CIVITAS: A Framework for Civic Education, a collaborative project of the Center for Civic Education and the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship, National Council for the Social Studies Bulletin No. 86,1991.

Fundamental Beliefs

Life: The individual's right to life should be considered inviolable except in certain highly restricted and extreme circumstances, such as the use of deadly force to protect one's own or others' lives.

Liberty: The right to liberty is considered an unalterable aspect of the human condition. Central to this idea of liberty is the understanding that the political or personal obligations of parents or ancestors cannot be legitimately forced on people. The right to liberty includes personal freedom : the private realm in which the individual is free to act, to think and to believe, and which the government cannot legitimately invade; political freedom : the right to participate freely in the political process, choose and remove public officials, to be governed under a rule of law; the right to a free flow of information and ideas, open debate and right of assembly; and economic freedom : the right to acquire, use, transfer and dispose of private property without unreasonable governmental interference; the right to seek employment wherever one pleases; to change employment at will; and to engage in any lawful economic activity.

The Pursuit of Happiness: It is the right of citizens in the American constitutional democracy to attempt to attain - to “pursue”- happiness in their own way, so long as they do not infringe upon rights of others.

Common Good: The public or common good requires that individual citizens have the commitment and motivation - that they accept their obligation - to promote the welfare of the community and to work together with other members for the greater benefit of all.

Justice: People should be treated fairly in the distribution of the benefits and burdens of society, the correction of wrongs and injuries, and in the gathering of information and making of decisions.

Diversity: Variety in culture and ethnic background, race, lifestyle and belief is not only permissible but desirable and beneficial in a pluralist society.

Truth: Citizens can legitimately demand that truth-telling as refraining from lying and full disclosure by government be the rule, since trust in the veracity of government constitutes an essential element of the bond between governors and governed.

Popular Sovereignty: The citizenry is collectively the sovereign of the state and holds ultimate authority over public officials and their policies.

Patriotism: Virtuous citizens display a devotion to their country, including devotion to the fundamental values and principles upon which it depends.


Constitutional Principles

Rule of Law: Both government and the governed should be subject to the law.

Separation of Powers: Legislative, executive and judicial powers should be exercised by different institutions in order to maintain the limitations placed upon them.

Representative Government: The republican form of government established under the Constitution is one in which citizens elect others to represent their interests.

Checks and Balances: The powers given to the different branches of government should be balanced, that is roughly equal, so that no branch can completely dominate the others. Branches of government are also given powers to check the power of other branches.

Individual Rights: Fundamental to American constitutional democracy is the belief that individuals have certain basic rights that are not created by government but which government should protect. These are the right to life, liberty, economic freedom and the “pursuit of happiness.” It is the purpose of government to protect these rights, and it may not place unfair or unreasonable restraints on their exercise. Many of these rights are enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

Freedom of Religion: There shall be full freedom of conscience for people of all faiths or none. Religious liberty is considered to be a natural inalienable right that must always be beyond the power of the state to confer or remove. Religious liberty includes the right to freely practice any religion or no religion without governmental coercion or control.

Federalism: Power is shared between two sets of governmental institutions, those of the states and those of the central or federal authorities, as stipulated by the Constitution.

Civilian Control of the Military: Civilian authority should control the military in order to preserve constitutional government.

Source: Civitas: A Framework for Civic Education, a collaborative project of the center for Civic Education and the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship, National Council for the Social Studies Bulletin No. 86, 1991.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Message and Values Analysis Sheet


Who is the targeted audience?

 


What is the message of this piece?



What does this piece present as being important? (What idea or concept is being valued in this piece?)


 

What are the values being promoted?


 

What does the promotion of this value mean for community members?



 

Do these values support civic engagement? How?



 

If they don't, what is missing? Do they, in reality, undermine civic engagement?

Handout 3Print Handout 3

Persuasive Rubric

Points

Criteria

4

Development: The writer identifies a clear position, fully supports or refutes that position with relevant factual information and ends with a strong conclusion (restatement of position, summary or call to action).

Organization: The writer presents relevant ideas logically so the reader can easily follow the writer's argument.

Attention to Audience: The writer maintains appropriate tone, chooses vocabulary appropriate to the audience and holds the reader's attention.

Language: The writer consistently uses vocabulary appropriate to the topic, maintains a consistent point of view and demonstrates correct usage and mechanics.

3

Development: The writer identifies a clear position and partially supports or refutes that position with relevant personal and/or factual information.

Organization: The writer presents an organizational plan that is logical and maintained, but with minor flaws.

Attention to Audience: The writer adequately addresses the needs and characteristics of the identified audience.

Language: The writer frequently uses language choices to enhance the text.

2

Development: The writer identifies a position, yet that position lacks clarity. The writer tries to support or refute that position with relevant personal and/or factual information.

Organization: The writer presents an organizational plan that is only generally maintained.

Attention to Audience: The writer minimally addressees the needs and characteristics of the identified audience.

Language: The writer sometimes uses language choices to enhance the text.

1

Development: The writer identifies an ambiguous position with little or no relevant personal and/or factual information to support that position; or the writer fails to identify a position.

Organization: The writer presents an argument that is illogical and/or minimally maintained.

Attention to Audience: The writer does not address the needs and characteristics of the identified audience.

Language: The writer seldom, if ever, uses language choices to enhance the text.

0

Does not attempt or meets none of the criteria.


 

Handout 4Print Handout 4

A Community Scan

1. What is the population of the community? ____________________     

    What was the population ten years ago? _____________________

  What is the projected population in the next ten years? ___________

2. Of the people living in your community, what percent are:

Under 5 years old  
Between 5 and 14 years  
Between 15 and 19  
Between 20 and 34  
Between 35 and 54  
Between 55 and 74  
Between 75 and 84  
Age 85 and older  

3. How many single-parent households are there? __________________________

4. What languages are spoken in the homes of the people in your community?

_______________________________________________________________

5.  What ethnic groups are represented in your community? _________________

_______________________________________________________________

6. What are your community's three largest employers?  What do they do?  How many people do they employ? 

How is it likely to be different in five years?

First Largest _________________________________ Employs:  ____________

Makes/ Does ______________________________________________________________

In Five Years ______________________________________________________________

Second Largest ______________________________ Employs:  _____________

Makes/Does ______________________________________________________

In Five Years ______________________________________________________________

Third Largest: ________________________________________

Employs: ____________

Makes/Does _______________________________________________________________

In Five Years ______________________________________________________________

7. What are the major industries in your community?  What do they do?  How many people do they employ? 

How is this likely to be different in 5 years?


First Largest _________________________________ Employs:  ____________

Makes/ Does ______________________________________________________________

In Five Years ______________________________________________________________

Second Largest _______________________________ Employs:  _____________

Makes/Does ______________________________________________________________

In Five Years ______________________________________________________________

Third Largest: ________________________________ Employs: ____________

Makes/Does ______________________________________________________________

In Five Years ______________________________________________________________

8. Are there any other significant employers in your area?  What do they do?  How are they likely to be different in five years? ______________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________  

9. What percentage of your community is unemployed? _____________ %

10. What is the median family income in your community?     $  _____________

11. What percent of the families in your community are below the poverty line?  _________ %

12. Does your community's population change widely during different seasons? __________

If yes, which seasons?  ______________________________________________

  + /- How many people? ___________________

Source: _________________________________________________________
 

13. Where do people in your community get their information?  How many are there of each of the following? Which provide information in languages other than English?

Services?
How many?
In languages other than English?
local newspapers    
local radio stations    
local television stations    
bookstores    
video stores    
music stores    
local community-access cable    
Internet/electronic services    
Other (community organizations, etc.)    

 

Source:___________________________________________________________________
 

14. What libraries are there in your community?
                    

Libraries?
How many?
Community  
School  
Academic (College and University)  
Hospital/Medical  
Legal  
Special/Other  

15.  List the number of schools in your community.  Are they public or private?

Schools
 
How many?
Pre-schools    
Elementary    
Middle or Junior High    
High Schools    
Vocational/Technical    
Community Colleges    
Colleges/Universities    

    What is enrollment in your school district in K-12 now?   ________________

    What is projected in five years? ___________________

16. What percent of the people aged 25 and older have at least a high school diploma or a GED? (This includes all technical school and college grads as well.)  ___________ %

    What percent of people 25 and older have a least some college?  ____________%

What percent of people aged 25 and older have at least four years of college?  ________%
 

17. List the number of medical care organizations in your community.

Medical Care Organizations
How many?
Hospitals  
Clinics  
Long-term and rehabilitation  
Hospices  

 

18. How many social service providers are located in your community?

Social Service Providers
How many?
Nursing Homes (Extended Care)  
Day Care Centers  
Shelters/Halfway Houses/Drug Treatment Centers  
Youth and Recreation Centers  
Others (List)  

Do these facilities draw local/regional people to your community? ____ yes    ____ no
Do the people who work in these organizations live in your community? ____ yes   ____ no

19. List (small communities) or estimate the number (large communities) and types of organizations in your community (service groups, clubs, churches).

___________________________________________________________________________

20. Are there any state or county offices in your community?    _____ yes   _____ no

What services do these offices provide?_______________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________

21. List the five most important issues facing your community in the next five years:

  • ______________________________________________________________________

  • ______________________________________________________________________

  • ______________________________________________________________________

  • ______________________________________________________________________

  • ______________________________________________________________________ 

 

 Questions adapted from Workform G of:

Planning for Results; a Public Library Transformation Process.  

ALA, 1998.


Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Growing a Citizen Summary

Lessons:

1.
What Would Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and Krishna Say?
2.
Participatory Citizen or Slacker—Which One Will You Be?
3.
Personal Giving Mission Statement (A)
4.
Putting Citizenship into Practice

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