Current and Societal Issue Discussions
Curriculum Design Toolkit: Current and Societal Issue Discussions
Facilitating student to student discussion provides students an opportunity to deliberate essential questions facing their community. This is an authentic practice to build and practice content knowledge, civic skills, and dispositions. Watch this one hour webinar for an overview of this proven practice of civic education.
Strategies for Establishing Norms for Student Discussions, Reflection, and Closure
IllinoisCivics.org has curated resources to Create a Safe and Reflective Classroom for teaching civics. Resources include strategies for engaging student voice in creating and maintaining norms.
It is important that students engage in reflective practices throughout the learning process to evaluate how thinking has evolved or been clarified and to assess the effectiveness of participation and opportunities for growth.
Resources for Grounding Current and Societal Discussions in Disciplinary Content and High-Quality Texts
Teachers play an important role in facilitating knowledge grounding for discussion. Attributes of knowledge grounding include engaging students to:
- Analyze a variety of credible texts in order to synthesize information for discussion, taking note of any bias and the author’s purpose.
- Identify multiple perspectives related to current and societal issues.
- Synthesize information to address essential and supporting questions related to the discussion.
Resources for Facilitating Current and Societal Issue Discussions
High quality current and societal issue discussions rarely “happen.” Much like a good lesson plan, planning and intention are needed to facilitate student to student dialogue. Attributes of successful teacher facilitation allow students to:
- Employ a variety of rhetorical tools (logos, ethos, pathos) in an effort to inform and understand others.
- Actively listen and respond appropriately to their peers to corroborate, clarify, question or provide an alternative perspective using appropriate transitions, acknowledging the thoughts of others and inviting others into the conversation to encourage the sharing of multiple viewpoints.
- Utilize a discussion strategy that is appropriate for the content and focus of the conversation.
Remote Learning Resources to Support Current and Controversial Issue Discussions
IllinoisCivics.org has created remote learning guides for some of the more popular discussion structures.
Engaging Student Voice and Lived Experiences to Generate Questions for Current and Controversial Issue Discussions
The K-12 Illinois Social Science standards honor student voice as an important inquiry tool for generating both essential and supporting questions for classroom use. Here are tools teachers can use to engage students in using their lived experiences and curiosity in forming questions for deliberation and discussion.
Resources to Promote Anti-Racism Practices While Engaging in Current and Societal Issue Discussions
Resources and Strategies for Using Discussion Boards
The Illinois Civics blog post “Making the Most of Discussion Boards” shares tips and tools to leverage online dialogue.
Helping Students Process Traumatic Current Events
The Illinois Civics blog post “Resources to Respond to Tragedy and Violence” provides guidance on how to listen, be present, and support students when bad things happen.
Professional Development Resources From Illinois Civics
- Professional Development Calendar
- Webinar Archive of online professional development offerings for teacher use on demand.
- If you would like deeper learning and training in this proven practice, register for the free Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Course on Simulations of Democratic Processes.
- Illinois Civics Instructional Coaches are available to work with teachers in their region to plan and implement current and societal issue discussions.