Show and Tell: Resources Aligned to the Proven Practices of Civic Education

This week, the Illinois Civics Hub (ICH) capped off our summer series with a “show and tell” from our Civics Instructional Coaches sharing their favorite resources aligned to the proven practices of civic education delineated in the 6-8 and 9-12 grade Illinois civics course requirements, as well as resources aligned to the new Illinois Media Literacy Requirement.

Media Literacy has long been an important component of ICH Professional Development. Civic inquiry and deliberation are only as good as the information that supports it. As the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) explains:

Media is an important part of the ecosystem that influences (both positively and negatively) whether and how young people participate in civic life. News in print, podcasts, on television, in social media, and cultural work shared online inform youth about the world and shape their understanding of how they can contribute to it — or whether they try.

If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording on our ICH Webinar Archives. Below is an overview of what each instructional coach brought to “show and tell”. Perhaps you will find a resource or two to enhance your classroom.

  • Jason Artman from Mendota shared two resources to support media literacy, Checkology from the News Literacy Project and Civic Online Reasoning from the Stanford History Education Group.  “The Civics Online Reasoning curriculum by SHEG offers great strategies for analyzing and evaluating the trustworthiness of online sources. Checkology is a great media literacy platform from News Literacy Program, offering more than 2 dozen modules that allow students to learn and practice from real news scenarios, and it is free.”
  • Julie Drone from Harrisburg likes to use Common Sense Education to support media literacy. “Common Sense has some good lessons, videos, and short self-guided activities to promote a positive digital culture.  Students are encouraged to think about what it means to be a digital citizen and what digital footprint they are leaving.”
  • Candace Fikis from Oswego shared Britannica’s “This site contains pro and con arguments for current and controversial topics that can be presented to students or used as a source for their own research.  There are also links to lesson plans for how to use the arguments for discussions, informed action, and ideas for how to incorporate them into many different subject AP courses.”
  • Tracy Freeman from Normal shared What’s Your Frame? from Learning for Justice. “Learning for Justice has it all!  Lesson plans are written by teachers, free movie kits with guides, PD –you name it!  My favorite is the FRAME. In order to successfully incorporate current and controversial issue discussions, the correct classroom environment must be set.  I use this (FRAME) early in my semester when introducing the use of primary sources as well as establishing norms with students for the classroom.”
  • Chris Johnson from Oneida shared SCOTUS in the Classroom from Street Law. “Street Law provides tons of resources for educators who want to introduce court cases in the classroom. The SCOTUS in the Classroom section is especially great for incorporating current SCOTUS cases. Readings and resources are offered at both high school and middle school levels. There are also guides on conducting simulations and/or discussions related to these cases.”
  • Heather Monson from East Moline could not say enough about AllSides. “ contains a new section on media literacy, and boy do we need it more than ever before. We’re living in a time when anyone can create and publish anything and make it look credible, a time when our students spend the bulk of their days consuming user-generated content, a time when algorithms are showing us more of the stuff we agree with and less of what we don’t. This free site offers news from all sides of the political spectrum. Choose a topic—like coronavirus, elections, health care, and so on—and AllSides provides you with a curated list of news and opinion pieces from publications that are clearly labeled as leaning left, leaning right, and centrist. Click on any of them and you go right to the full original article. This is what I like the most, the student gets access to the full and original article. The site also includes free classroom activities like a Red Blue Dictionary, topic pages with background information on popular current events topics, and lesson plans for teachers.”
  • Logan Ridenour from Dupo likes C-SPAN Classroom for, “…lessons and bell ringers that use a variety of videos from C-SPAN.  You will need to sign up for the service but it is free. There are premade google docs that go with most lessons.  I would also suggest signing up for their newsletter as it will update you on new lessons and bell ringers.”
  • Mary Jane Warden from Park Ridge likes the new collaboration between Facing History and Ourselves and Pear Deck. She explains, “Pear Deck is a Google/PowerPoint Add-on (Freemium) that has partnered with Facing History & Ourselves with activities for Back-to-School. Facing History & Ourselves has created lots of activities that weave in SEL with building community. These resources engage students both digitally and in person, no matter what mode you need to operate in, as you start to establish learning routines in your classroom.”
  • Matthew Wood from West Chicago likes to use Civics In Real Life with his middle school classes. “This resource from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship provides weekly analyses of key issues pertaining to citizenship, civic responsibilities, and contests within the court systems. I love this resource as it stays fresh and up to date, while also having an impressive backlog of prior topics. It is great for weekly civics-dabbling and for longer in-depth lessons. While it operates using some high-level language, it has great supports such as linked vocabulary terms as well as further supporting lessons, documents, etc.”
  • Corie Yow rounded out our “show and tell” with PBS Learning Media-Illinois. “This resource allows you to browse by all subject areas and grade levels.  It has amazing videos with supporting materials that can easily be shared via google classroom or by link.  Find anything you need related to Civics and Government, Economics,  Geography, U.S. History, and World History. Resources can be found for elementary, middle, and high school students.”

The resources highlighted by the ICH coaches can be found in our Curriculum Design Toolkits as well as our Media Literacy Toolkit.

The Illinois Civics Hub is hosting free after-school PD this fall from many of the organizations highlighted above including the News Literacy Project, the Stanford History Education Group,and Facing History and Ourselves. A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits through the DuPage Regional Office of Education is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development Calendar.