Civic Education &
Participation Group

People holding hands

Civic Participation & Citizenship Collection

NELRC

 

 


The Massachusetts Civic Education and Participation Group (CEPG)

Introduction

This collection of teacher writings documents the work of programs that were funded by the MA DOE to include civic participation activities in the ESOL classroom. The group includes programs that vary in size, schedules, and approaches to incorporating civics into instruction. Some weave civics into their regular ESOL coursework; some have set aside separate class time to focus on civic participation; and others have approached the civic participation work as a program-wide effort.

This broadly diverse set of programs came together to identify the promising practices that we thought were worth sharing with the field and to write up illustrations of their application.

The Promising Practices

Note: The teacher writings link from the Promising Practices for Building Civic Participation listed at the bottom of the page. Each is a Word document.

The list of promising practices we developed reflects our collective thinking about practices we believe are important in teaching for civic engagement and participation in a democracy. They are practices that we agreed on and felt we could illustrate from our collective work. Before we identified the practices, we identified some criteria for “what counts” as a promising practice. How is it different from any good lesson that we and our students have created? What makes it worth sharing with other educators? We came up with the following list:

Indicators of a Promising Practice

  • builds civic skills (advocacy, analysis, media literacy, consideration of multiple perspectives, etc.) and a questioning stance toward information
  • gives students a chance to experience democracy (not just study it)
  • innovative
  • learner-centered, relevant
  • students are active in using their voices to express views, educate others, etc.
  • gets people to go outside of their usual routines
  • there is some evidence/indication of effectiveness

We also thought about what readers would want to know. What questions do other teachers have about how to teach civics or civic participation? What might be the factors that get in the way of teachers being able to address civic participation and are there strategies we could share or demonstrate that might help them? This is what we brainstormed:

Things the field wants to know about

  • civics for/with various levels of learners
  • student leadership
  • assessing civics
  • addressing different cultural styles/norms
  • projects that vary in length/size
  • making connection between civics learning and language learning

Finally, we generated what we believe are promising practices and identified our illustrative examples. The teacher writings are organized and linked from the promising practices below. Although most pieces address more than one practice, each has been placed with the one that it best illustrates.

 

Promising Practices for Building Civic Participation

  1. Develop the capacity of students to navigate their communities and U.S. systems in order to find and share resources and information.
  2. Provide opportunities for students to practice democracy, take leadership, and participate in their communities.
  3. Build the skills to communicate respectfully and resolve conflict.
  4. Collaborate with community education and advocacy groups to participate in community planning/development activities and other organized efforts.
  5. Critically examine the media and how it represents people and events.
  6. Use current events to stay informed and to analyze issues in social and historical context.
  7. Use the arts as a means to explore geography, culture, and history.
  8. Provide opportunities for students to reflect on their identities and roles in a new culture and to consider how they want to participate.

 

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World Education
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