E Pluribus Unum
  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Set a fund-raising goal and identify sources of private funds.

Students create a final project tying together their knowledge of voting, rights, laws, and public office.


PrintOne 50-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • synthesize information about democracy, civic responsibility and local government to communicate with others about getting involved.
  • through a project, demonstrate understanding of democracy and civic responsibility, especially related to local government.
  • Markers
  • White board/flip chart
  • Photographs from field trip (if applicable)
  • Large poster board; glue sticks
  • Construction paper
  • Magazines
  • Colored pencils
  • Paints
  • Various arts and crafts materials;
  • Computer with color printer and internet (optional)
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell students that voting is one way to use their voice, but there are other ways to influence the laws of local and national government. They may use their voice by raising awareness of issues they care about. Their voice (added with others) may convince others to take action or vote a certain way. If they visited an advocacy nonprofit in the previous session, remind them how the organization used social media to persuade and inform.

    Brainstorm some examples of things young people can do (write their ideas on a chart that can be referenced and added to). Ideas: use social media to share your views,take part in a poetry slam to express your viewpoint, create a blog or video to be "heard" by peers, talk to community members about issues that affect them, create posters that address issues to be hung up around the neighborhood, organize your peers to help community members register to vote, or join an organization.

  2. Review the learnings from the first two lessons and field trip. Talk about the elements of democracy, voting,laws, public office, and citizen responsibilities and rights. Have students meet in pairs to discuss what was most important or memorable about these lessons. The student pairs may share their ideas with the whole group.

  3. Ask students what opportunities they feel are open to them to influence an issue or encourage people to vote. Encourage them to look at their brainstormed list from above. Follow the students' interests and enthusiasm to choose a class project or projects to take action to encourage citizen action.

  4. If they do not come up with their own project idea, lead students to create mural and/or class poem that can be shared with others to promote civic action.

    • Mural: Move students into pairs to create murals that represent their learning about democracy, voting, laws, rights and responsibilities, and civic participation.Their visual representation includes drawings; poems; words or phrases; pictures from the internet; impressions, opinions, or facts. Materials used can vary as available and/or desired. Each pair should work together for about 30 minutes to create their work on 8 ½ x 11” paper. Have each pair share their work with the group, and explain what they represented. Then, combine the pages into one or more class murals.
    • Ask students what they notice about the finished project. What do the pieces have in common? How are they different? How does this work represent our democracy?
    • Poem: Students compose a group poem about democracy made up of individually written stanzas. The stanzas should be in a similar format (for example, all haiku or iambic pentameter), so different groups each write a different stanza and then pull them together into one fluent poem. They work together to determine the order of verses. They may arrange in advance that groups take different parts of the democratic process so the poem covers a variety of themes that make sense together. Publish the class poem(s) through social media or in a public publication to convince community members to take part in the democratic process.
  5. Explain the meaning of the phrase “E pluribus unum.” This motto is on the seal of the United States of America and is found on coins and the dollar bill. It is also the motto of Jamaica, found on the Jamaican Coat of Arms. Suggest “e pluribus unum” as the title for the group project, and ask if they think it’s appropriate. Why, or why not?

  6. After the group publishes or displays their project, have them monitor the reactions and discuss how their action has influenced others.

  • Remind students of the meaning of “e pluribus unum.” Ask them to reflect on the various communities to which they belong either by birth or culturally. Then ask, "How do separate parts combine to make a whole?" or "How do the many, smaller communities fit together to form the larger ones?"
  • Ask each student to identify a positive contribution he or she makes to the community (may be any "community" to which they belong). How does this contribution benefit the whole?