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For Educators - K-12 Promising Approaches

We the People: Project Citizen

Grade level: 5-8, but students from 3rd to HS have used this program. 

 

Promising Approaches

  • Guided Discussions of Issues and Current Events
  • Service-Learning and Community Service

Overview
Special Features
Civic Learning Goals
Evaluation Studies
Required Resources
Available Resources
Professional Development Opportunities
Snapshots of Practice in Action
Contact Information

Overview

We the People: Project Citizen is a curricular program in which students work cooperatively to identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy.  Students and teachers interested in service-learning implement their action plan to make a difference in solving the identified problem through policy advocacy.  Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project locally and at the state level.  

In Maine, KIDS Consortium provides training and support for teachers.  KIDS also organizes the annual hearings and showcase in Augusta at the State Legislature where students present their work to a panel of civic-minded community members and/or policymakers.  In past years, students in grades 3-8 have participated in this program, but only those in grades 5-8 can go on to the national showcase. Presently, many Maine 9th grade teachers are being trained in Project Citizen since it meets their curriculum needs.

Special Features

Nationally Project Citizen is administered with the assistance of a network of state and congressional district coordinators in every state and is conducted with the assistance of the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education by act of Congress. Additional funding at the state level is also provided by an increasing number of state legislatures.  Teachers committing to do Project Citizen projects receive a free set of classroom materials.  In Maine, KIDS Consortium organizes a spring Project Citizen Showcase during which time students present their projects to state level policymakers who then ask questions and provide feedback.

Civic Learning Goals

Civic Knowledge

  • Structures, processes, functions, branches, and levels of U.S. government and legal system

Civic Skills

  • Critical thinking, active listening, analyzing public policies, problems and assets, and understanding multiple perspectives
  • Communicating one’s position through writing or speaking

Civic Dispositions

  • Developing a belief in one’s ability to make a difference

Evaluation Studies

An Assessment of We the People...Project Citizen: Promoting Citizenship in Classrooms and Communities, Policy Research Project Report No. 129, Project Directed by Kenneth W. Tolo, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, 1998. Executive Summary: http://www.civiced.org/research.php

Project Citizen and the Civic Development of Adolescent Students in Indiana, Latvia, and Lithuania, Thomas S. Vontz, Kim K. Metcalf, John J. Patrick, Indiana University, Published Volume: The ERIC Clearinghouse, 2000. Executive Summary:  http://www.civiced.org/research.php

Required Resources

Training in Project Citizen, see www.kidsconsortium.org for dates for free training sessions. Project Citizen materials from Center for Civic Education (received after training)

Available Resources

www.kidsconsortium.org and www.civiced.org

Professional Development Opportunities

www.kidsconsortium.org

Snapshots of the Practice in Action

Third grade students in Lewiston, Maine worked to change a recess policy that took away winter afternoon recess.

Elementary students in SAD 63, Maine are working to create school policy to protect students from harmful UV rays.

Students in Orono, Maine worked to create a video and brochure that is now shown to all new students coming into the building.  The students had the school board adopt this policy.

Students in Holden Maine work to get a policy that requires defibrillators in all public buildings.

Students in Cumberland, Maine work with the Town manager to create a pay per bag waste policy to increase recycling in their town. Middle school students work to change a “within voice control policy” to “on-leash” policy for local dogs.  But they are also working to create a fenced in area for dogs to be off-leash.

Middle school students from Portland, Maine, testified for the State Education Committee in support of a proposed law to increase funding to pay for laptops for high schoolers.

Contact Information

KIDS Consortium
Project Citizen
215 Lisbon Street
Lewiston, ME  04240
207-784-0956
www.kidsconsortium.org
kap@kidsconsortium.org

Center for Civic Education
5145 Douglas Fir Road
Calabasas, CA 91302-1440
Tel: 818-591-9321
Fax: 818-591-9330
www.civiced.org

 

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy