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Making Civics Real Workshop 2: Electoral Politics  
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Workshop 2

Workshop Session
Lesson Plan
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Student Perspectives
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Lesson Plan:Teaching the Lesson: Overview, Goals, and Planning

The lesson culminates a 12-week unit developed by the national Student Voices Project to engage students in the civic life of their community. It was videotaped just prior to the 2002 mayoral election in Newark, New Jersey. Students divide into small groups to brainstorm and research specific community issues, prioritize the issues studied on the basis of what they have learned, present their findings to the class both orally and through a visual presentation, develop a whole-class consensus on a Student Voices Agenda of issues they think the next mayor should address, and study the candidates’ positions on the issues they have chosen to track.

The objective of the lesson is twofold: to get young people involved in civics, politics, and democratic participation in government and to put together a Student Voices agenda for the 2002 City of Newark mayoral campaign. This process can be applied to any local campaign.

Jose Velazquez, who is known for introducing new material in a dramatic way, began this unit by dubbing the 2002 Newark mayoral campaign “The Big Rumble.” A newspaper article that profiled the major candidates for mayor helped make his point by delineating the candidates’ opposing points of view on various issues. Students made an initial choice of which candidate they supported based on their knowledge at the beginning of the unit. These choices will be compared to their selection at the end.

Prior to the lesson seen in the program, the students identified six primary issues that affect young people in the city of Newark--education, housing and neighborhoods, recreational needs, employment, crime and juvenile justice, and discrimination--and selected the issue that most interested them personally. Next, they divided into issue-specific focus groups and brainstormed specific problems in each area. This activity was followed by some initial research, including investigations on Web sites and surveys of other students and community members to test their assumptions, obtain additional input, and identify priorities. The lesson shown in the program culminates this work.

Overview, Goals, and Planning    |     Activity 1
Activity 2     |     Activity 3     |     Activity 4     |     Student Voices Forum
Scheduling and Adaptations


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