Talking with Your Students About the Assault on the Capitol

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Tyler Merbler/flickr.com. This image is under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

On January 6, 2021, supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol building after months of Trump claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. The scenes from that day and the issues it brings to the surface will stay in many people’s minds through the coming weeks, months, and years.

Constitutional Rights Foundation has created three new classroom activities to help you and your students discuss abiding questions about the events of January 6 and the meaning of those events while encouraging thinking about the future of American democracy — and how to strengthen it.

Each activity can be completed in one class session.

Hopes for the Future

This activity:

  • Is mindful about potential trauma, while also including government content (powers of the president and Congress).
  • Aligns to research on social-emotional learning.
  • Provides assessment strategies to help teachers avoid making judgements about kids’ opinions.

Hearing the Opposing Side: A Discussion About Partisanship

This activity:

  • Gives students the opportunity to reflect on the importance of respecting common goals despite partisan differences.
  • Presents multiple perspectives on the concept of partisanship itself.
  • Allows teachers to assess students’ understanding after discussion and questioning.

January 7, 2021: Newspaper Front Pages the Day After the Attack on the U.S. Capitol

This activity:

  • Gives students a glimpse of how the story was reported in newspapers (with various political leanings) from different parts of the country; none are identical.
  • Reflects important principles of media literacy and analysis: examine key words, analyze images, compare and contrast different sources.
  • Provides assessment that emphasizes a forward-looking approach and evaluation of how students communicate their ideas.

cap front sm

As we continue to grapple with the events of January 6, 2021, what they mean for U.S. democracy, we encourage you to double down on civic engagement and register for CRF's Civic Action Project (CAP). This free, online, project-based curriculum includes extensive teacher support, various options for remote learning, and -- most importantly -- a clear focus on shaping public policy to help students create systemic change.

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