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Students learn about why people get involved in their communities


Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  


Title – Do Something about… Voting/Civic Engagement
Lesson 1: What Is Civic Action
By – Do Something, Inc. 
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – 
Grade Level – 9-12

Do Something about…
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement


The following lesson is the first lesson of a 10-lesson
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement Unit from Do Something, Inc.
Other lessons in this unit are as follows:

Lesson 1: What is Civic Action? (See lesson below)
Students learn about why people get involved in their communities.
Lesson 2: Why Is Democracy So Demanding?
Students will discuss the role of citizens in a democracy.
Lesson 3: Representin’
Students learn about the system of representation in a democracy.
Lesson 4: How have people used elected offices to make changes?
Students learn how holding a political office effects change.
Lesson 5: Social Capital
Students learn about social capital and how networking is a tool for civic action.
Lesson 6: Politics, A Laughing Matter
Students learn how cartoons and satire can raise concern about an issue
Lesson 7: How do organizers bring about change?
Students earn about the strategies of unionizing and boycotting.
Lesson 8: Why do I have to do jury duty?
Students learn how jury duty is a type of civic engagement.
Lesson 9: How can I use writing to lead others to action?
Students learn how the written word is a method of civic action.
Lesson 10: How can speaking engage others in my cause?
Students learn about the power of speeches in gathering support for community change.

More student teen voting resources can be found at:

For more Service-Learning Curricula check out:

Lesson 1: What is Civic Action?


Students will learn about why people get involved in effecting change in their communities.




English Reading Standard 5:

  • Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process

English Listening Standard 8:

  • Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes



  1. Warm-up: Start the unit by playing the song “Where is the Love?” by the Black-Eyed Peas. Ask students to discuss the purpose of the song. What kinds of problems are discussed?
  2. Introduce students to Citizen Action by describing how the unit will focus on learning strategies to become more active members in their community and get their voice heard about political matters. Tell students that for each day of this unit, they will look at a different method of civic engagement.
  3. Have students brainstorm a list of various problems in their community (school or larger community) that they care about. Bring in newspapers or have students look online for topics that they feel they want to learn more about.
  4. Create a large class list of potential topics. Have students put a plus sign next to an issue in which they have already been active. Discuss what kinds of actions students have done and how this was a type of civic engagement.
  5. Discover : Read and discuss the following quote by the famous British Politician Edmund Burke. “The only thing necessary of the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”
  6. Discuss common reasons why people are not civically engaged (lack of knowledge, lack of time, not knowing what to do, feeling that they cannot make a difference, mistrust of politicians, etc.) Ask students what the result of civic disengagement of their generation might be?
  7. Tell students that you will be tackling two of the most common reasons people do not become engaged in civic action, lack of knowledge about a topic and not knowing what to do to make a difference.
  8. Have students divide into Action Groups based on interest. Each day, students will learn more about their topic of choice and engage in variety of types of civic action.
  9. Take Action: For the initial meeting, you should have students write and discuss why they care about this topic with the other members in their group. What do they want to change? Why? Students should fill in the first two columns of a K-W-L chart (that investigates their prior knowledge about the subject and what they would like to learn).


Other Activities:

  1. Students should look through the newspaper and cut out articles about people who are effecting change in their community. They can then summarize this information and present it to the class.

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