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Good Citizenship Lesson Plans: How to be a good citizen at school
Teachers need Good Citizenship lesson plans – as in, we need to help prepare our students to be good, successful contributing members of society.
(Although our good citizenship lesson plans are also good, saying that we have good Good Citizenship lesson plans seems a little much… nevermind.)
The start of the school year is a great time to ask our students how to be a good citizen at school. (It’s also a good time to use this magic phrase to build a growth mindset.)
The second best time to show students how to be good citizens… is right now.
Good Citizenship Lesson Plans for Middle School, Elementary grades and High School – Table of Contents
- Good Citizenship Definition: What is a good citizen?
- HOW do you teach students to be GOOD CITIZENS? (What is Citizenship – Good Citizenship Lesson Plan BIG IDEA):
- A week of GOOD CITIZENSHIP lesson plans
- Who are these Good Citizenship Lesson Plans for?
- SAMPLE ONE WEEK GAME PLAN: (8 Good Citizenship LESSONS)
- Here’s what you get in the Good Citizenship Lesson Plans ZIPPED FILE
Good Citizenship Definition: What is a good citizen?
Being a citizen, and being a good citizen are two very different ideas.
If we look at the dictionary definition of citizen, we see that being a citizen means you’re literally part of that community.
Citizen: a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized… an inhabitant of a particular town or city.SOURCE: Google Search: Citizen Definition
So, being a citizen means you’re part of a community. You could be a citizen of a country, or province/state, city, town, school, or even classroom!
But, just because you’re a citizen of a place doesn’t automatically mean you’re a good citizen of that place.
Think about it: you can be a student, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good student, right?
Psst. I think this could be a great question for your classroom:
- What is a student? What’re the criteria for being a student? What is a student supposed to do? What’s their job?
- What is a good student? What makes a “good” student, good? Is it because they’re compliant and complaisant? Is it because they have memorized a lot of facts that they can regurgitate? Is it because they have a growth mindset and an “I can do this” positive attitude?
The bottom line is just because you’re a student, it doesn’t automatically make you a good student.
Likewise, just because you’re a citizen, it doesn’t automatically make you a good citizen.
Good Citizen: someone who is part of a community and also gives back to the community.SOURCE: Educircles.org
So, the important part of being a citizen is that you figure out ways to participate in the community and give back to the community. And, that’s what turns you into a good citizen.
Another strategy to figure out what is a good citizen is to ask the opposite. What would a bad citizen look like? (Or, a citizen who made bad choices.)
- Brainstorm a list of things that bad citizens might do, then
- Look through your list and figure out the opposite – what would a good citizen do?
HOW do you teach students to be GOOD CITIZENS? WHAT IS CITIZENSHIP? (Good Citizenship Lesson Plan BIG IDEA):
It’s very easy to give your students a list of 5 ways to be good citizens!
- Help out in the community
- Don’t litter
- Support local business
But, if we give our students a list of ways to be good citizens, are we really teaching them how to be good citizens? Or simply teaching them to be good followers?
A key idea of 21st century compentencies / learning skills is that we need to prepare our students to be able to handle unknown problems by themselves:
Because being part of a community can be hard work:
- You have to be able to communicate effectively.
- You have to collaborate and work with others. (Psst: Teamwork and Collaboration are not the same thing…)
- You will disagree with other people at some time – how can you be assertive and try to come up with a solution where everyone is happy – while maintaining your boundaries?.
- You won’t get your way all the time – what strategies do you have to keep going and persevere? (By the way, we have Growth Mindset Posters PDF stuff as well.)
A key part of teaching students to be good citizens is to help them get a handle on concepts of empathy, diversity, fairness, and contributing to the communities that we are a part of.
So we created a series of Good Citizenship lesson plans to help teachers introduce the CITIZENSHIP character trait (21st Century Competencies)
How to be an active participant:
- at school,
- in our local community, and
- our global community.
After this chapter, students will be able to explain that Citizenship is about:
- Being part of a community (i.e. literally a citizen of a country or community)
- Giving back to the community (i.e. being a good citizen / an ideal citizen)
- Being part of several communities: school, country, global citizen
Students will have the opportunity to:
- EXPERIENCE increasingly tough choices exploring fairness, empathy, critical thinking, and argument support
- WATCH a visual representation of global facts and inequity
- UNDERSTAND what “citizenship” is by using a vocabulary building graphic organizer (Frayer model) to brainstorm features of Citizenship, examples, and non-examples of being a citizen, and finally narrow down essential characteristics of the word.
The concept of Citizenship is actually a little tricky.
There are 3 separate ideas that we explore in this lesson bundle:
What is a citizen, literally?
The dictionary / literal definition of citizen is about “being a citizen of a particular country” (as in having a passport, and having legal rights from the government.)
What is a good citizen? (an active citizen or an “ideal citizen”)?
We also explore the learning skills definition of a citizen, which is really about being a “good” citizen or an “ideal citizen” that is an active participant in society:
- Do you understand local and global perspectives and address environmental, social, and economic problems through engaged citizenship
- Do you take action to make a positive difference in the community and the world?
- Do you participate in physical and virtual communities in a socially responsible and sustainable manner?
What are different communities that you can belong to (and be a citizen of)
We explore being a citizen of a country, being a citizen of your local community / school community, as well as being a global citizen.
A week of GOOD CITIZENSHIP LESSON PLANS
In this package, we:
- introduce the concepts of empathy, fairness, and respecting different perspectives.
- allow students to explore citizenship and community involvement by working through 17 question debates to develop critical thinking and the ability to support arguments and consider other points of view from our own.
- provide discussion points of a YouTube video visually exploring global statistics – if the world were a village of 100..
- allow for deeper exploration of the concept of “Citizenship” by playing with the term using the Frayer Model of understanding and a Venn diagram.
We provide handouts:
- Two different versions of a graphic organizer to help students analyze choices in the “Food for Thought” activity debate and sample answer key (Teacher Example)
- Vocabulary Builder graphic organizer (to develop a deeper understanding of what citizenship means.)
- Venn Diagram handout for students to clarify the difference between “citizen” and good citizen / “ideal citizen”
- Student Self Evaluation of their “Citizenship” Learning Skill
- Chapter Review assessment and answer key.
We provide 3 different versions of the lesson slideshow (79 slides):
- A link to the Google Slideshow so you can show it to your students right away. (Get started in seconds!).
- A link to a version of the Google Slideshow that you can make a copy of the presentation. (This way you can edit / tweak the content to fix your exact classroom needs.
- A powerpoint file that you can download (PPT) and modify. (Edit the presentation to fit your needs, and use the presentation when the internet is down!)
WHO are these GOOD CITIZENSHIP LESSON PLANS for? HOW COULD YOU USE THIS TO BUILD an ACTIVE COMMUNITY IN YOUR CLASSROOM or SCHOOL?
Teachers could use this package in their classrooms to introduce the concept of citizenship and participating both in the classroom, at school, and beyond.
Middle School Advisory / Homeroom teachers – Good Citizenship Activities
Do this package in the first month of class, to reflect on citizenship, and to practice a classroom culture of respectful communication. There are 17 debate questions for students to practice your classroom routines.
Teachers who have a social justice or a diversity / equity focus in the classroom will find the debate questions allow a high-interest, interactive way to introduce progressively difficult issues:
- clean water vs medicine…
- education vs war…
- racism vs sexism…
- Hunger – local vs global
English / Literacy / English Language Arts Teachers
This is an opportunity to link into oral communication / debate skills.
Students will be looking into defending their choices with support through oral debate using a written graphic organizer to help them prepare their ideas. This can become a precursor to persuasive paragraph and essay writing. From a Bloom’s Taxonomy perspective, students get a chance to:
- List ideas about their choice. (REMEMBER)
- Explain their ideas / concept (UNDERSTAND)
- Compare / contrast their ideas vs other points of view (ANALYZE)
- Justify an opinion by appraising key criteria of their ideas, and then weighing which criteria is more important to them (EVALUATE)
- Some students may be able to analyze the arguments of people on the other side of the debate, appraise which criteria is most important to them, and then develop a counter argument (CREATE)
Geography / Social Studies / Civics Teachers:
Possible ideas of what you could link to. (Sample Ontario Curriculum links are included):
- Roles and Responsibilities of Government and Citizens (Ontario Gr 5)
- Responding to Global Issues (Ontario Gr 6)
- Global Inequities – economic development & quality of life (Ontario Gr 8)
School leaders (Principals, Admin, Division Leaders) could use this Character Learning Skills lesson package in their schools to create a common language and exploration of growth mindset.
Good Citizenship Lesson Plans High School
Our goal as educators is to help students be successful in life. We do this by embedding 21st century global competency skills into our curriculum.
High school is an interesting phase. We become so focused on our subject-based specialities, and yet we need to look at basic skills that are common to all subjects and fields.
(And, if you’re new to teaching, chances are you’ll be teaching things that AREN’T your teachable subject, at some point in your career. Welcome to teaching!)
You can edit all of our materials to find your class and grade.
School Activities / Ideas about creating a culture of Good Citizenship, School Community, Diversity or Critical Thinking
The 17 mini debate questions provide an opportunity for students to develop critical thinking skills and communication skills.
You could use this package and then explore ways students could help make the world a better place – both locally and globally.
Some of the debate questions begin to look at equity education concepts of empathy and fairness.
Common Language, Common Learning Goals
This unit provides a systematic way for a grade, division, or school to explore learning skills / character development as a framework of delivering provincial / state curriculum.
The debate questions provides everyone with a common experience between classes so that students can support each other, even though they’re in different classes. This is an opportunity for classes and extra-curricular clubs to develop social justice projects and open ended deep learning projects.
Doing the same (Frayer model) vocabulary building graphic organizer provides a common tool / framework that students and teachers can build around in other areas (i.e. math concepts, grammar concepts, science concepts, etc).
Launch a school year of discussion
Ultimately, this chapter is meant to kick off a year / lifetime of discussion, as opposed to being a one-off activity.
If all classes start off with the same approach, then throughout the year, as teachers do different activities, you could still connect it back to concepts of perspective, and recognizing that it’s okay for other people to disagree with you – can you empathize with their perspective, even though you don’t agree?
SAMPLE ONE WEEK GAME PLAN: (8 GOOD CITIZENSHIP LESSONS)
This is based on a 50 minute teaching period with around 40-45 minutes of content per lesson.
(Let’s be honest. It takes your students a few minutes to wander into class, and you’ll probably need a few minutes at the end of class to go over homework or administrivia stuff for your class.)
Depending on your teaching style and the chattiness of your class, you may find that you can get through all 8 lessons in 5 days… or it stretches out to two full weeks (10 days).
TEACHER TIP: If you’re short on time, pick and choose which debate questions to do.
PART 1. EXPERIENCE
DAY / LESSON 1 – Part 1 Activity Food for Thought – SLIDES 1-16 – 50 min
- Introduction – What is a citizen (slide 1-2) – 5 minutes
- Activity Food for Thought – Round 1 (slide 3 – 16) – 45 minutes
- Introduction (slide 3 – 7)
- Debate Question 1: Chips vs Chocolate (slide 8)
- How to play (slide 9-13)
- Debate Question 2: Early vs Night (slide 14)
- Debate Question 3: Microwave vs Oven (slide 15)
- Debate Question 4: Fork vs Spoon (slide 16)
DAY / LESSON 2 – Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) – SLIDES 17-30 – 50 min
- Activity Food for Thought – Round 2 (slide 17-22) – 25 minutes
- Review how we play (slide 18) – 5 min
- Debate Question 5: Only child vs Siblings (slide 19-20) – 5 min
- Debate Question 6: Left Hand vs Right Hand and videos (slide 21-23) – 15 min
- Activity Food for Thought – Round 3 – 25 minutes
- Intro + Handout (slide 24-28) – 5 min
Note there are 2 versions of the handout. Choose one, or both versions as an extension.
- Debate Question 7: Sight vs Hearing (slide 29) – 10 min
- Debate Question 8: Dog vs cat (slide 30) – 10 min
- Intro + Handout (slide 24-28) – 5 min
DAY / LESSON 3 – Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) – SLIDES 31-36 – 45 min
- Activity Food for Thought – Round 3 continued – 45 minutes
- Review what we did last time (slide 31) – 5 min
- Debate Question 9: Vacation vs $500 (slide 32) – 10 min
- Debate Question 10: Social Media vs YouTube (slide 33) – 10 min
- Debate Question 11: 5 instruments vs 5 languages (slide 34) – 10 min
- Debate Question 12: Uniform vs No Uniform (slide 35-36) – 10 min
DAY / LESSON 4 – Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) – SLIDES 37-45 – 50 min
- Activity Food for Thought – Round 4 – 50 minutes
- Introduction of heavy stuff (slide 37) – 2 min
- Minds on – 2 quotes (slide 38 – 42) – 15 min
- What is empathy
- What is fair?
- Review what we did (slide 43) – 3 min
- Handouts / Respect
- Debate Question 13: Clean water vs Medicine (slide 44) – 15 min
- Debate Question 14: Food vs Shelter (slide 45) – 15 min
DAY / LESSON 5 – Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) SLIDES 46-49 – 50 min
- Activity Food for Thought – Round 4 continued – 50 minutes
- Review respect and note taking (slide 46) – 5 min
- Debate Question 15: Racism vs Sexism (slide 47) – 15 min
- Debate Question 16: Education vs War (slide 48) – 15 min
- Debate Question 17: Helping your students vs helping a country (slide 49) – 15 min
PART 2. WATCH
DAY / LESSON 6 – Part 2 Video – SLIDES 50-56 – 45 min
- Part 2 Video – 45 minutes
- Introduction – Minds On (slide 50-53) – 20 minutes
- Watch video (World as a 100 people) (slide 54-56) – 25 minutes
PART 3. UNDERSTAND
DAY / LESSON 7 – Part 3 Vocabulary Builder – SLIDES 57-74 – 40 min
- Introduce Part 3 – Understand (Vocabulary Builder) – Slide 57
- Graphic Organizer set up – Slide 58-59
- Minds on – Slides 60-61
- Filling out the graphic organizer – Slides 62-65
- Revising graphic organizer – Slides 66-70
- Other Communities – Slide 71
- Summary – Slides 72-74
DAY / LESSON 8 – Self Evaluation / Review – SLIDES 75-79 – 40 min
- Student Self Evaluation – slide 75 – 78 – 10 min
- Chapter Review Test – Slide 79 – 30 min
Here’s what you get in the Good Citizenship Lesson Plans ZIPPED FILE
Exploring the Six Cs – Chapter 2 – CITIZENSHIP (Learning Skills) WEEK
This lesson plan is available in PDF format for printing. Pretty.
- 79 Slides!
- Customizable Powerpoint PPT file so you can change the slideshow to fit your classroom needs.
2 Google Slides links
- 79 Slides!
- Get a Google Slideshow link so you can present the slideshow as is (right away without any changes)
- Get a different Google Slideshow link to make a copy in your own Google Drive and modify it to fit your specific needs.
HANDOUT: 21 Graphic Organizer to Analyze choices (PDF)
- a simple version breaking down ideas for two different perspectives
- a more complex version identifying and weighing key characteristics / criteria per perspective
Answer Key provided
HANDOUT: “Citizenship“ Vocabulary Builder (PDF)
Adapted from questions and answers in Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. What is your mindset when it comes to:
- Frayer Model graphic organizer for “CITIZENSHIP
- Venn diagram comparing “dictionary definition” and “learning skills” definition of “citizenship”
- Answer Key provided
HANDOUT: Citizenship Learning Skills Self Assessment (PDF)
Student Self Evaluation of their “Citizenship” Learning Skill at the end of the week.
You can use the same handout at 3 different times in the term to get diagnostic, formative, and summative information to help with Learning Skills comments for the Report Card.
HANDOUT: Chapter Review Assessment (PDF)
7 short answer questions to see what students remember from the week’s worth of lessons.
Answer Key is provided.
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