Not the Only Fish in the Sea

9, 10, 11, 12

This lesson will study the partnership between civic participation and good citizenship. It will provide an opportunity for learners to understand their roles as civic participants. Ultimately students will see that one person can make a difference. By influencing others to become involved, many hands can make light work.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo or Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • describe the various forms of civic responsibility.
  • explain how civic participation benefits the participant and the community.
  • Computers
  • Teen Power Politics by Sara Jane Boyers (see Bibliographical References)
Home Connection 

The student can help undertake a civic project in the neighborhood. This may include helping a neighbor.

  • Boyers, Sara Jane. Teen Power Politics: Make Yourself Heard. Brookfield, Conn.: Twenty-First Century Books, September 2000. ISBN: 0761313915
  • Facts and Figures on Youth and Volunteering,
  • Seasons of Service (a Points of Light Foundation) is a portfolio of national opportunities for people to volunteer for service projects and activities throughout the year.
  • Volunteer Workers by Age: Archived Information


  1. Anticipatory Set:From the book “Teen Power Politics: Make Yourself Heard,” read page 67, “Giving Others Their Voice,” to your students. Discuss how the concern of one individual can promote other individuals to come together to make a positive difference in their own community. Specifically ask students to tell you how Celeste motivated others to get involved in their communities. Was Celeste’s story motivating to you?

  2. Tell your students that in Celeste’s story, she talks about influencing civic and societal policies. Ask your students if they know what social issues are. Define social issues as problems that exist in neighborhoods, communities and the world. Use world hunger as an example. Ask your students if they can think of other social issues that exist today. Write their ideas on the board or a large sheet of paper.

  3. Ask your students who they believe is responsible for solving the problems that these social issues cause for communities (government, for profit business, nonprofit organizations, families). Define the nonprofit sector, the governmental sector and the business sector. Discuss how these three sectors provide social and financial resources to communities. Emphasize the role of the nonprofit and all that students wouldn’t have if these nonprofits did not exist.

  4. Discuss the importance of youth being involved in their communities, and how civic responsibility is important to our democracy. Ask the learners to give examples of how they can be involved in the community.

  5. Discuss the pertinent words that define civic responsibilities. These include citizenship, community involvement, volunteering and core values.
    Have students list and describe civic/nonprofit groups that exist in their community and allow each student to select a local nonprofit to research on the computer. In their research they should discover the mission of their nonprofit and how volunteers can help them to accomplish their mission.

  6. Each student should make a short presentation to the class on a nonprofit. Each student’s goal is to solicit the entire class to take on their agency as a class project for a semester/remainder of the year. For example, the local food pantry is in need of food, clothing, toiletries, etc. Your class will set up three different drives during the year to help the agency accomplish their mission. Or, it may be nearing an election year for a local, state or national election, and your students may choose to volunteer to assist with the process.


Student learning may be evaluated on the presentation of the nonprofit.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
  2. 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.