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T2T Collab Curriculum Library

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Civil Conversation | Role Play and Simulation | Other Resources

The T2T Collab supports teachers with implementation of two kinds of academic discussion strategies Civil Conversation and Role Play and Simulations.

Civil Conversation

Civil Conversation

(focus of PD during the first semester of the 2017-2018 school year)

The Civil Conversation engages students in a close reading and analysis of a text that presents two sides of an issue. Students then participate in a structured small-group discussion about the issue, using evidence from the text. Finally, students reflect on their participation in the conversation, with an emphasis on reaching their own informed conclusions and considering where they found common ground with their classmates. It is intentionally not a debate, but a chance for students to engage in thoughtful dialogue.

CRF and Teacher Leaders have developed a step-by-step lesson plan for teachers on “Conducting a Civil Conversation in the Classroom,”which includes a discussion guide to be distributed to each student.   pdf word


Use the lesson plan and student discussion guide with any of the topics (and texts) below.

Using the Civil Conversation Strategy in the Classroom: Dealing with Controversy, How to Build Common Ground in the Classroom with Civil Conversation

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Download Webinar Materials Packet

Current Events


Blurring the Lines Between Fact and Fiction (HS) pdf word
Should laws be passed that protect the dead from having lies told about them in books and movies?  

Immigration Enforcement Raids (HS) pdf word
Provides background on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), its role in enforcing immigration policy, and different perspectives on the methods ICE uses to conduct raids.

Police & Body Cameras (MS/HS) pdf word
Describes arguments in favor of and opposed to equipping police officers with body cameras.

Should Weapons Ever Be Allowed at School? (MS) pdf word
Describes a First Amendment case, Cheema v. Thompson (U.S. Ninth Circuit), in which a Sikh student wore his kirpan (sacred knife) to school and was expelled for having a weapon.

 

In addition to articles from CRF, we include articles from Newsela that can be used with the Civil Conversation. As a part of our work with WestEd and Gates, we are pleased to introduce you to this great resource. You’ll see that you can adjust the reading level of the articles and then simply print or electronically assign the article to distribute to your students.  

PRO/CON: Should Confederate monuments be a thing of the past? web (MS/HS)
Discussion Question: Should Confederate monuments be a thing of the past?  

After removal by congressman, teen's artwork restored to Capitol. web
 
(MS/HS)
 Discussion Question: Should art that is offensive to some be removed from government buildings?
   Facebook and Google don't like bad information on the Internetweb (MS/HS)
 Discussion Question: What should Facebook and Google do about fake news? 

  PRO/CON: Protesting the national anthem in the land of the free. web (MS/HS)
 Discussion Question: Should the public support athletes’ right to protest during the national anthem? 

  Robotic cars must prove that they are safer than human drivers on the road. web (MS/HS)
 Discussion Questions: Should new laws be made about testing self-driving cars? Why or why not? If so, then what laws would you suggest be made? 

  PRO/CON: Should sanctuary cities lose their federal funding? web (MS/HS)  
  

Government/Econ.


Two Visions of Government (HS) pdf word
Describes Hobbes’ and Locke’s visions for government and asks students to discuss which vision is better and why.

Social Darwinism and American Laissez-faire Capitalism (HS) pdf word
Describes British philosopher Herbert Spencer’s theory of “Social Darwinism” and its impact on Americans’ justification of laissez-faire, or unrestricted, capitalism in the 1800’s. Students discuss Spencer's view of government and if they would support laissez-faire capitalism in the United States today.

How Should We Judge Our Nation’s Founders? (MS/HS) pdf word
The reading poses questions and describes viewpoints about honoring our nation’s founders who were slave owners. Students discuss: In a diverse society like America, there will always be debates over who we should or should not honor. When it comes to the men who founded our nation, what standards should we use to judge them? Can we honor them for their extraordinary contribution to our nation or is the stain of slavery too great?

U.S. History


How Should We Judge Our Nation’s Founders? (MS/HS) pdf wordThe reading poses questions and describes viewpoints about honoring our nation’s founders who were slave owners. Students discuss: In a diverse society like America, there will always be debates over who we should or should not honor. When it comes to the men who founded our nation, what standards should we use to judge them? Can we honor them for their extraordinary contribution to our nation or is the stain of slavery too great?  
The 14th Amendment and Due Process (MS/HS)
pdf word
Provides background on the 14th Amendment and the Supreme Court’s “incorporation doctrine”. Students discuss historic question about the rebel states being required to ratify the 14th Amendment and/or if the 14th Amendment’s due process clause changed the Constitution for the better for worse.

Should Weapons Ever Be Allowed at School? (MS) pdf word
Describes a First Amendment case, Cheema v Thompson (U.S. Ninth Circuit), in which a Sikh student wore his kirpan (sacred knife) to school and was expelled for having a weapon.

In addition to articles from CRF, we include articles from Newsela that can be used with the Civil Conversation. As a part of our work with WestEd and Gates, we are pleased to introduce you to this great resource. You’ll see that you can adjust the reading level of the articles and then simply print or electronically assign the article to distribute to your students.

Newsela: Time Machine (1867): PRO/CON: Should the U.S. buy Alaska from Russia?(MS/HS) web
Newsela Editor's Note: Here are two articles from 1867. One is in favor of purchasing Alaska from Russia. The other is against. At the time, the $7 million purchase was controversial. The affair was referred to as "Seward's Folly." U.S. Secretary of State William Seward was the government official who pushed for the purchase. New York Times and New York Tribune, adapted by Newsela staff

World History


Confucianism or Legalism: Which is Better? (MS/HS) pdf word
Provides background on Confucius and Qin Shi Huangdi and describes Confucianism and Legalism. Students then identify and discuss pros and cons of each and which is better.

Athens vs. Sparta (MS) pdf word
Describes life in Sparta and in Athens. Students discuss which was most likely to win the Peloponnesian War and which had the best government.

When England Industrialized (HS) pdf word
Describes the industrialization of Manchester and the Luddites protests. Students discuss the costs and benefits of industrialization in England and if the Luddites’ protests were justified.

The Meeting at Runnymede (HS) pdf word
Provides background on the Magna Carta and “rule of law”. Students discuss what the most important ideas from the Magna Carta are for American democracy.

Why Did the Communists Win the Chinese Revolution? (HS) pdf word
Describes agendas of the Chinese Nationalists and Communists. Explores factors for Chiang and the Nationalists’ defeat.

 

Role Play and Simulations

(focus of PD during the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year)Role plays and simulationsrequire students to examine an issue from an assigned perspective. These activities provide a unique opportunity for students to examine content through a specific lens, to recognize bias, and ultimately, to draw evidence- and text-based conclusions in ways that are engaging and meaningful.
 

Not all role play/simulation lessons will work as academic discussion. The curated collection of lessons below offer a range of standards-aligned topics and strategies. 

World History


Rome: Republic to Empire (MS/HS) word
This lesson provides an overview of the governance of the Roman Empire. First, students hold a discussion on what a dictator is. Then they read and discuss an article on the beginning of Rome, the Roman Republic, and its transformation into an empire. Finally, in small groups, students role play members of a congressional committee deciding on whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to give the president greater powers in an emergency.


Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire
(MS/HS) pdf
This two-day lesson explores the history of religious toleration and persecution in the Roman Empire.

On the first day, students discuss why religious freedom is important. Then they read and discuss an article on the treatment of Jews in the Roman Empire.

On the second day, students review what they learned the previous day. Then they read and discuss an article on the treatment of Christians in the Roman Empire. Finally, students prepare and deliver speeches to EmperorTheodociusurging him to adopt freedom of religion in the Roman Empire.

 

Ending the War to End All Wars (HS) pdf
Students will learn about the armistice that ended of World War I and the Paris Peace Conference, which decided the fate of post-WWI Germany. A short PowerPoint centered discussion introduces students to the armistice and various national reactions to it. Students then assume the roles of one of the “Big Four” leaders at the Paris Peace to debate the fate of post-war Germany and create their own version of the Treaty of Versailles. Finally, students compare their Treaty of Versailles with the actual Treaty and then make predictions about its effects on the post-World War I world.

 


Sudan, Imperialism, and the Mahdi’s Holy War
– Coming Soon

Current Events


Police Commission (MS) pdf
In this lesson, students focus on issues of police discipline. First, in a reading and discussion, students learn about the processes many police departments use to investigate citizen complaints about misconduct and for disciplining officers. Then, in a simulation activity, students take the role of members of a police board of rights to make decisions about a hypothetical case.


Police & the Use of Force
(MS) pdf
This lesson focuses on the issue of police use of force in field situations. After a brief focus activity, students read and discuss a reading that describes laws and rules affecting the types and level of force, including deadly force. Then, in a paired activity, students take the role of police officers, review guidelines, and apply them to hypothetical cases. Finally, in a debriefing discussion, students compare their responses.



Immigration Policies
– Coming Soon

U.S. History


Race and the 14th Amendment (Library of Congress Lesson w/Primary Sources) (HS) pdf
In this two-part lesson, students analyze manuscripts as primary sources on the application of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause to issues of racial discrimination in U.S. history. In Part I, students discuss a letter from George L. Vaughn to Thurgood Marshall, both attorneys in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), a case in which the 14th Amendment was applied to invalidate state enforcement of racial covenants that prohibited thesaleofproperty to African Americans.

Then, students closely read a few paragraphs from a pamphlet produced by the NAACP onthecaseof UC Regents v. Bakke (1978), a case invalidating quotas in affirmative action for medical school under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

In Part II, students read and discuss a background briefing on affirmative action in higher education. Students conduct a role-play simulation activity on deciding the best admissions policy for a college to ensure equal protection of the laws.

Voting & Equality (Library of Congress Lesson w/Primary Sources) (MS/HS) pdf
In this two-partlesson students will use primary sources to explore voting rights in the United States. In Part I, students will analyze two sets of documents to gain a deeper understanding of how suffrage has been both expanded and suppressed, developing claims about how voting rights impact equality.

In Part II, students will further analyze one of the documents from Day One before taking on the role of a congressional committee charged with amending (or not) the Voting Rights Act to increase equality in the United States.


Federalist Papers
(Library of Congress Lesson w/Primary Sources) (HS: ELA or SS) word

This two-part lesson explores the Federalist Papers. First, students engage in a discussion about how they get information about current issues. Next, they read a short history of the Federalist Papers and work in small groups to closely examine the text. Then, student pairs analyze primary source manuscripts concerning the Federalist Papers and relate these documents to what they have already learned.

In an optional interactive activity, students now work in small groups to research a Federalist or Anti-Federalist and role-play this person in a classroom debate on the adoption of the Constitution. Extended writing and primary source activities follow that allow students to use their understanding of the history and significance of the Federalist Papers.


Durham’s Hayti Community-Urban Renewal or Urban Removal?
(8th Grade) pdf
In this lesson, students will learn about Durham’s Hayti community, which was once one of the most unique and successful black communities in America. Through reading, class discussion, and examination of Main Street, Carolina’s digital history project on Hayti, http://mainstreet.lib.unc.edu/projects/hayti/), students will learn how Hayti flourished from the 1880s to the 1940s and became known as the “The Black Capitol of the South.” Students will then place themselves intheyear1958, when the Durham Redevelopment Commission was formed and proposed a plan to “renew” Hayti, which had fallen into disrepair by the 1950s. Students will participate in a mock public hearing in which they grapple with the pros and cons of the urban renewal proposal and ultimately, they will decide whether or not to implement the plan. Afterwards, students will explore the actual decision made to implement the renewal plan, as well as the impact urban renewal had on Hayti.

Government/Economics


Does the First Amendment Allow Restrictions On Hate? (HS)  pdf
Students read an article outlining trends in hate crimes, Supreme Court decisions on laws established to challenge these crimes, and current federal legislation on the issue.  Students then role play a legislative session on a proposed hate crime law. 

What Caused the Great Depression and Why Did Recovery Take So Long? (HS) word
Students read an article describing the causes of the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s recovery efforts. Students then imagine that they are advisors to the new President Roosevelt and develop a policy plan they think he should adopt.


John Peter Zenger and Freedom of the Press
(HS) word Activity pdf Handout A Sources
First, students participate in a quick primary source document activity. Next, students read an article about the Zenger, a colonial freedom of the press case and how that case influenced later court decisions, including New York Times v. Sullivan. Students then participate in a role play activity as they become partners in a law firm and determine how they will handle several hypothetical libel cases.

Incarcerated America (10th Grade) pdf Lesson pdf Presentation
Inthislesson students will learn about various punishments – with a special focus on prisons and prison reform – for convicted persons in the United States. ThroughaPower Point, class discussion, and a group reading activity, students will explore the various benefits and societal consequences of America’s prison system. Students will further explore possible prison legislation by participating in a General Assembly simulation to determine how North Carolina should deal with prisons during a budget crisis.


Choice, Conflict, and Compromise at the County Level
(10th Grade) pdf
Clover County, NC has received a $6 million federal grant for community improvement. But now, the County Commissioners must determine how to allocate these funds given all of the important issuesfacingtheircounty. Before making a financial determination, the Commissioners are holding a public hearing where various special interest groups will advocate for how they believe the funds should be allocated. In this lesson, students will simulate the meeting of the Clover County Commissioners, gaining an active understanding of the importance of local government. Students will then examine youth voter apathy at the local level and brainstorm ideas on how to get young people engaged in voting.


City Council Simulation: Dogwood City’s Proposed Curfew Ordinance
(10th Grade) pdf
In this experiential activity, students will gain an understanding of the role of city councils, the responsibilities of council members, and the relevance of council decisions to individual citizens. Assuming the roles of city council members or special interest groups, students will participate in a city council simulation in which council members must decide whether to pass a curfew ordinance for the city’s young residents.


City Government Services, Departments, and Funding
(10th Grade) pdf
In this lesson, students will identify servicesprovidedbylocal city government and determine which government departments are responsible for various services. They will then assume the roles of city council members and prioritize various government services, allocating mock resources accordingly. Finally, students will discuss the importance of being active citizens and participating in their local governments.


PowerPoint Lessons with Moot Court Activities (HS)
Each of the lessons below provides PowerPoints and a moot court activity. First, teachers use a PowerPoint that provides background on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights with a focus on free expression, due process, or equal protection.Next the teacher uses another PowerPoint to set up a moot court activity where students take the roles of justices and attorneys to “argue” a U.S. Supreme Court case. The PowerPoint then provides a debrief of how the real case was decided.


Download: Simple Steps to Conduct a Moot Court Activity pdf word


 Free Expression: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (MS/HS) ppicon Background ppicon Activity wordTeacher's Guide word Student Handout
Due Process: California v. Greenwood (MS/HS) ppicon Background ppicon Activity wordTeacher's Guide word Student Handout
Equal Protection: Gratz v. Bollinger (HS) ppicon Background ppicon Activity wordTeacher's Guide word Student Handout
Equal Protection: Chicago v. Morales (HS) ppicon Background/Activity wordTeacher's Guide word Student Handout


Two important notes when implementing these strategies:

  • Some of the lessons in this library deal with controversial issues. Consider your own students and community as you choose topics.
  • If you make modifications to any of these lessons, please let your Teacher Leader know so that CRF can continue to update and improve them!
 

Other Resources

Bill of Rights In Action Archive

Additional readings from CRF's Bill of Rights In Action sorted by topic and subject area.

ProCon.Org

Presents the pro and con on controversial issues.

More Lessons from CRF

Additional new state standards aligned lessons from CRF.

Newesla

Provides leveled content from daily news sources.

 


This initiative is a part of the Teacher Practice Network, a project of the Center for the Future of Teaching & Learning at WestEd funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.