Participatory Citizenship

9th - 12th

Pupils explore U.S. politics by completing a class project. In this National policy lesson, students review and compare the National Service Act of 1990 and the Kennedy Service Act and the importance of service in the U.S.A. Pupils discuss ways they can serve their country and create a pledge with their classmates.

Resource Details

Visual Arts
Instructional Designs
1 hr
Learning to Give

Was Congress’s Violation of the First Amendment During the McCarthy Era Justified?

“I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party. . .” Senator Joseph McCarthy certainly stirred the pot with his claims. The result was a series of legislative actions that put McCarthy in the spotlight and First Amendment rights in jeopardy.  Was Congress’s violation of the First Amendment during the McCarthy Era justified? To prepare to respond to this guiding question, class members examine a series of primary source documents including the First Amendment, the Smith Act, and Joseph McCarthy’s speech delivered February, 1950, in Wheeling, West Virginia. After group and full-class discussions, individuals craft an essay using evidence drawn from the documents to support their argument.

The Political is Personal

Learners examine their own political party affiliations and political beliefs. After reading an article, they discuss how students at Duke define their political philosophies. They brainstorm events, people and experiences that have shaped their own political philosophies and write an essay outlining their philosophy.

Playing it Safe

Students explore the importance of an election and act as political advisers for an upcoming election. Students create platforms for various candidates, by writing a letter to their candidate with suggestions for winning the election.

Civil Service Reform: Senate Debates

Learners examine the 1883 Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. They discuss the spoils system, answer discussion questions, read and analyze speeches, complete a worksheet summarizing their findings, and report their findings to the class.

Civil Service Reform: Campaign Contributions

Learners investigate the campaign contribution scandal in Illinois during the 1990s. They listen to a teacher-led discussion, answer discussion questions, compare/contrast two reform acts, and write their own civil service law.

Civil Service Reform: Senate Debates

Eleventh graders outline civil service reform proposals made by Senators during debates on Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. They interpret 1883 Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act to see if it incorporated Senators' proposals or resolved their criticisms.

Political Puzzles

Students investigate how different liberal democracies around the world organize their governments and decide major policies. They compare their findings to the American political system, using examples of current political issues.

Consequences of the Sedition Act

Learners research and discuss the consequences of the Sedition Act. They illustrate the difficulty of balancing security needs and personal freedom using an example from John Adams's presidency.

SWOT Teams: Analyzing the Political Parties for the 2010 Midterm Elections

What are political parties and what so strategists do? In this political analysis lesson, young scholars analyze political strategies to understand their strengths and weaknesses. They use key details from the text to learn how to create political strategies for both political parties.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854: Popular Sovereignty and the Political Polarization over Slavery

High schoolers read selections from the Declaration of Independence, Northwest Ordinance of 1787, and the Wilmot Proviso of 1846. They contrast the maps of 1820 and 1854 to analyze developments in the national debate over slavery. They debate the issues raised in speeches by Douglas and Lincoln.

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