Civics Education Resource Site

Civic Learning Practices Indicators

These indicators are used to define best practices in civic learning for current and prospective Illinois Democracy Schools, but also align with the new Illinois high school civics course requirement. They were derived from the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools' Guardian of Democracy report, and the service learning standards are modeled after those prescribed by the National Youth Leadership Council.

 Direct Instruction

Design/Teaching Strategy
  • Makes explicit civic learning connections between formal instruction and concrete actions
  • Compliments the standard curriculum and assessments with civic learning
  • Includes material not contained in the text book, particularly primary sources, and civic practices, organically developed within the classroom
  • Includes political and civic texts from history and from the present that communicate political and civic ideas in writing, speech, and other media
  • Leverages visits from people in the community to learn about important events and ideas
  • Utilizes range of instruction and assessment tools including student-initiated activities
Content
  • The Constitution and its fundamental principles as applied to the past and present
  • The structure of government at local, state, and federal levels, over time
  • The powers and limitations of each level of government (federal, state, and local)
  • The relationship of the United States to other nations and to world affairs
  • The major themes in the history of the United States
  • Ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic
  • How people create, interact with, and change structures of power, authority and governance (including voting, lobbying, non-violent conflict, etc.)
Critical Thinking
  • Reflects key democratic knowledge, skills, and concepts
  • Engages in critical analysis of political information where questions about civics, government, and history are developed, posed, and impact further investigations and discussions
  • Assesses citizens' and institutions' effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, national and/or international level
  • Evaluates public policies (local, state, national, or international) on basis of intended outcomes and related consequences in order to propose any necessary changes
  • Analyzes relationships among governments, civil societies and markets
Civic Skills
  • Employs group projects or presentations connected to course content
  • Practices civic communication skills including democratic deliberation
  • Attends to skills, values, and practical applications

Best Classroom Practice for Simulations*

Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching

Domain One: DIRECT INSTRUCTION harnesses both content and pedagogy to heighten student knowledge, skills and interest in civics (1a). Teachers set instructional outcomes (1c) that incorporate resources (1d); measuring growth with well-designed assessments (1f). Teachers must have knowledge of student (1b) strengths and challenges in order to design coherent instruction (1e) using both disciplinary content and inquiry standards.

Domain Two: DIRECT INSTRUCTION facilitates a culture of learning (2b) in which students engage with respect and rapport (2a). Classroom space (2e) and procedures (2c) are organized to manage student behavior (2d) to promote participation and equity.

Domain Three: DIRECT INSTRUCTION engages students in learning (3c) using essential and supporting questions to make choices about content and pedagogy (3b). Teachers are flexible and responsive to student interests and concerns (3e), effectively using assessment (3d) to communicate clear expectations with students (3a).

Domain Four: DIRECT INSTRUCTION provides a pathway for both students and teachers to reflect on classroom practice (1d). Teachers should communicate student expectations with families (4c), and collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders in the community (4d) to enrich the classroom experience as a professional (4f). Teachers should seek out opportunities for professional growth (4e) in which they garner resources and strategies to enhance their classroom.

Illinois Social Studies Standards

DIRECT INSTRUCTION is organized around essential and supporting questions (SS.IS.1-3.9-12) in which students use disciplinary content and skills (SS.CV.1- 10. 9-12) to evaluate sources and use evidence (SS.IS.4-5.9-12). Effective classroom instruction uses an interdisciplinary lens to evaluate the causes and effects of issues of concern (SS.IS.8.9-12).

CCSS/ELA Anchor Standards

CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION has explicit and direct connections to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. Students use reading (CCRA.R. 1), writing (CCRA.W.7), language (CCRA.L.3) speaking and listening (CCRA.SL. 1) skills throughout their classroom experience.

21st Century Skills

DIRECT INSTRUCTION promotes critical thinking skills in students as they address essential questions scaffolding the experience. There are opportunities for student collaboration. Student creativity harnessed through the strategies and resources chosen to support instruction. Students use evidence and empathy to communicate with others and reflect on their classroom experiences.

Students employ information, media and technology as they participate in the DIRECT INSTRUCTION.

Social and emotional competencies are garnered and used by students as they engage with and apply what they have learned through DIRECT INSTRUCTION, equipping them with valuable life and career skills.

*The indicators listed generally have the most explicit connections to Simulations of Democratic Processes. Other indicators may be present.

 Simulations of Democratic Processes

  • Practices citizenship through role-playing, scenario consideration, or problem-based case solution
  • Reserves sufficient time for each simulation for learning of challenging skills and concepts
  • Discusses how lessons learned in the simulation may apply in other contexts, including local communities

Best Classroom Practice for Simulations*

Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching

Domain One:SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES harness both content and pedagogy to heighten student knowledge, skills and interest in civics (1a). Teachers set instructional outcomes (1c) that incorporate resources (1d); measuring growth with well-designed assessments (1f). Teachers must have knowledge of student (1b) strengths and challenges in order to design coherent instruction (1e) using both disciplinary content and inquiry standards.

Domain Two: SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES facilitate a culture of learning (2b) in which students engage with respect and rapport (2a). Classroom space (2e) and procedures (2c) are organized to manage student behavior (2d) to promote participation and equity.

Domain Three: SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES engage students in learning (3c) using essential and supporting questions to scaffold classroom experiences (3b). Teachers are flexible and responsive to student interests and concerns (3e), effectively using assessment (3d) to communicate clear expectations with students (3a).

Domain Four: SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES provide a pathway for both students and teachers to reflect on classroom practice (1d). Teachers must be mindful of multiple perspectives and experiences that can connect them with families (4c), other colleagues and stakeholders in the community (4d) as a professional (4f). The opportunity to promote understanding of multiple perspectives in classroom simulations provides a unique opportunity for professional growth (4e).

Illinois Social Studies Standards

SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES allow students to address and create essential and supporting questions (SS.IS.1-3.9-12) using disciplinary content and skills (SS.CV.1- 10. 9-12) to evaluate sources and use evidence (SS.IS.4-5.9-12). Students reflect on their experiences and may communicate their conclusions to a variety of audiences (SS.IS.7-9.9-12).

CCSS/ELA Anchor Standards

SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES have explicit and direct connections to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. Students may use reading (CCRA.R.1, 6, 7) to prepare for participation. Writing (CCRA.W. 3, 4, 9), language (CCRA.L.3) speaking and listening (CCRA.SL. 1-4) skills can be utilized throughout the experience and in reflection of learning.

21st Century Skills

SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES promote critical thinking skills in students as they address essential questions scaffolding the experience. Students collaborate with stakeholders in and out of school. Student creativity is employed to engage with one another, using evidence and empathy to communicate with others and reflect on their experiences.

Students may employ information, media and technology as they participate in SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES.

Social and emotional competencies are garnered and used by students as they engage in SIMULATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES, equipping them with valuable life and career skills.

*The indicators listed generally have the most explicit connections to Simulations of Democratic Processes. Other indicators may be present.

 Service Learning

  • Focuses intentionally on civic outcomes and encourages civic commitment where students conduct research and analyze data related to their service
  • Fosters increased student knowledge of the community
  • Builds upon previous service projects to have a cumulative positive impact on the community
  • Is of sufficient duration and intensity to address authentic community needs and meet specified outcomes
  • Prepares students for service in the community, including an understanding of the service sites, populations, and their individual responsibilities
  • Incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself, the benefits service learning has bestowed, and one's relationship to society
  • Engages participants in meaningful and personally-relevant service activities that are available to all students regardless of academic skill or ability
  • Promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants
  • Builds collaborative, mutually beneficial, and reciprocal relationships with community partners that address community needs
  • Engages participants in an ongoing process, including feedback from community partners, to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability
  • Provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning experiences with guidance from adults

Best Classroom Practice for Simulations*

Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching

Domain One:SERVICE LEARNING harnesses both content and pedagogy to empower students to take informed action (1a). Teachers set instructional outcomes (1c) that incorporate resources (1d); measuring growth with well-designed assessments (1f). Teachers must have knowledge of student (1b) strengths and challenges in order to design coherent instruction (1e) using both disciplinary content and inquiry standards.

Domain Two: SERVICE LEARNING facilitates a culture of learning (2b) in which students address current & controversial issues with respect and rapport (2a). Classroom space (2e) and procedures (2c) are organized to manage student behavior (2d) to promote participation and equity.

Domain Three: SERVICE LEARNING engages students in learning (3c) using essential questions to discuss current and controversial issues (3b). Teachers are flexible and responsive to student interests and concerns (3e), effectively using assessment (3d) to communicate clear expectations with students (3a).

Domain Four: SERVICE LEARNING provides a pathway for both students and teachers to reflect on classroom practice (1d) and take authentic action - connecting with families (4c), other colleagues and stakeholders in the community (4d) as a professional (4f). Collaboration between community and classroom provides a unique opportunity for professional growth (4e).

Illinois Social Studies Standards

SERVICE LEARNING allows students to address essential and supporting questions (SS.IS.1-3.9-12) using disciplinary content and skills (SS.CV.5-9. 9-12) to evaluate sources and use evidence (SS.IS.4-5.9-12). Students can communicate their conclusions and take informed action (SS.IS.6-9.9-12) through research, advocacy, direct & indirect action.

CCSS/ELA Anchor Standards

SERVICE LEARNING has explicit and direct connections to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. Students may use reading (CCRA.R.7), writing (CCRA.W. 4-7), speaking and listening (CCRA.SL. 4&5) skills to design and implement inquires leading to informed action.

21st Century Skills

SERVICE LEARNING promotes critical thinking skills in students as they address essential questions facing their community. Students collaborate with stakeholders in and out of school to take informed action. Student creativity is employed to design inquiries and use evidence to communicate their conclusions to diverse audiences, anticipating counter claims.

Students employ information, media and technology as they move through the steps of SERVICE LEARNING: investigation, preparation, action, reflection and demonstration.

Social and emotional competencies are garnered and used by students as they engage in SERVICE LEARNING, equipping them with valuable life and career skills.

*The indicators listed generally have the most explicit connections to Simulations of Democratic Processes. Other indicators may be present.

 Current and Controversial Issues

  • Engages productively with the local, national, and international issues and events that animate our political system
  • Addresses meaningful and timely questions about public problems that deserve both students and the public's attention
  • Links issues to core curricular goals
  • Selects issues that resonate with students
  • Locates or creates learning materials to provide students necessary background information
  • Through these learning materials, provides the best arguments on varying sides of an issue, multiple points of view and engages with multiple and complex perspectives
  • Employs several different ways of making joint decisions (deliberating, debating and voting, agreeing to disagree, delegating the decision to experts, choosing randomly, etc.) and demonstrates the pros and cons of each
  • Develops ground rules to ensure inclusive and productive discussions occur in a climate of respect and civility in which all responsible perspectives are taken seriously
  • Facilitates in-depth understanding of issues or events to enable individuals to form their own opinions and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own thoughts clearly and persuasively
  • Undertakes discussions with thoughtfulness related to the ethical dilemmas involved in teaching about controversial issues

Best Classroom Practice for Simulations*

Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching

Domain One: THE DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES harnesses both content and pedagogy to facilitate student deliberation (1a). Teachers set instructional outcomes (1c) that incorporate resources (1d); measuring growth with well-designed assessments (1f). Teachers must have knowledge of student (1b) strengths and challenges in order to design coherent instruction (1e) using both disciplinary content and inquiry standards.

Domain Two: THE DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES facilitates a culture of learning (2b) in which students engage with respect and rapport (2a). Classroom space (2e) and procedures (2c) are organized to manage student behavior (2d) to promote participation and equity.

Domain Three: THE DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES engages students in learning (3c) using essential and supporting questions to scaffold classroom deliberations (3b). Teachers are flexible and responsive to student interests and concerns (3e), effectively using assessment (3d) to communicate clear expectations with students (3a).

Domain Four: THE DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES provides a pathway for both students and teachers to reflect on classroom practice (1d). Teachers must be mindful of multiple perspectives and experiences that can connect them with families (4c), other colleagues and stakeholders in the community (4d) as a professional (4f). The opportunity to engage multiple perspectives in classroom conversations provides a unique opportunity for professional growth (4e).

Illinois Social Studies Standards

THE DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES allows students to address and create essential and supporting questions (SS.IS.1-3.9-12) using disciplinary content and skills (SS.CV.4, 5, 7 & 10. 9-12) to evaluate sources and use evidence (SS.IS.4-5.9-12). Students can communicate their conclusions to a variety of audiences (SS.IS.6-9.9-12).

CCSS/ELA Anchor Standards

THE DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES has explicit and direct connections to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. Students may use reading (CCRA.R.7&8), writing (CCRA.W. 1,6,9), language (CCRA.L.3) speaking and listening (CCRA.SL. 1-6) skills to engage in civil discourse with one another and others in the community.

21st Century Skills

THE DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES promotes critical thinking skills in students as they address essential questions facing their community. Students collaborate with stakeholders in and out of school. Student creativity is employed to engage with diverse audiences, using evidence and empathy to communicate with others.

Students employ information, media and technology as they participate in the DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES.

Social and emotional competencies are garnered and used by students as they engage in the DISCUSSION OF CURRENT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES, equipping them with valuable life and career skills.

*The indicators listed generally have the most explicit connections to Simulations of Democratic Processes. Other indicators may be present.