General

What Is the StudentCam Competition and How Does It Relate to Civics?

Close up of a student looking down at a video camera while filming.

StudentCam is an annual competition hosted by C-SPAN for middle and high school students. C-SPAN sets a theme for each year’s contest, and students create a 5-7 minute video related to that theme. In the process, students must navigate the C-SPAN video archive and demonstrate a deep understanding of concepts in civics and government. This […]

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General

A Better Legislative Approach to Improving Civics Education in New Jersey

A civics oriented picture of the United States Constitution laid over an American flag.

There are people out there advocating for the U.S. Citizenship test to be administered as a graduation requirement. Like we discussed last week, this is a bad idea. This legislation passed in some states, including Arizona and Wisconsin, and legislators introduced it in others. It’s not hard to see why. Just about everyone agrees that […]

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Methods

Take a Stand: Gauging Where Students Are on Controversial Issues

A take a stand activity with six silhouettes standing in a row with speech bubbles saying "Raise the Wage!" and "Don't Do It!"

The “Take a Stand” activity is a method for teaching controversial issues. The idea is simple. You ask a controversial question, and students line up according to their opinion. This can be used as an introductory activity, as a formative assessment, or as a closure activity. The method is also sometimes called the “continuum” method […]

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General

What Is Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and How Does It Relate to Civics?

A student is speaking into a microphone sharing her research, while two other students stand in the background waiting for their turn to speak.

Youth Participatory Action Research is a way to engage students in investigating an issue of concern that they see in their community. Once they’ve done their research, the students then work on a plan to tackle that issue and make their community better. I first encountered Youth Participatory Action Research – or YPAR – when […]

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General

Test Don’t Teach: This Is Not How You Fix Civics Education

Hand taking a standardized test.

Legislators take note – tests are not the right answer. They’re an easy answer. They’re a simple answer. But they don’t make education better, and they’re not the way to make civics education better. While searching for some civics related info earlier tonight, I stumbled upon this gem: Civics Education Initiative. It’s an innocuous sounding […]

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General

National Voter Registration Day: Do Your Part to Increase Participation This Year

Two pairs of hands, with the one on the left filling out a voter registration form.

Did you know that New Jersey law requires that schools help students register to vote? Well, not exactly. To be more specific, New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:32-14.1 does state … District boards of education […] shall provide to each eligible high school student prior to the school year’s graduation date a voter registration form, a […]

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