Civics IS the Plate!

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor

Sometimes as a teacher, I get inundated with initiatives that make me feel like I am drowning in alphabet soup. First it was NCLB, AYP, and RTI. We also have to keep in mind students that are AP, LEP, ELL, or have IEPs. We have to work on our SIP’s in our LC’s and document CPDU’s for the ISBE. Sometimes it can make a person want to say OMG, I am ready to go AWOL ASAP!

While the mention of another state mandate often makes me cringe, I am excited that Illinois joined 40 other states by implementing a civic education requirement for high school graduation guided by new social studies standards. The civics course requirement is unique because there are directions for not only “what” that should be taught with content standards, but also “how” it should be taught, citing proven practices in civic education.

It has been said that “luck” is a matter of opportunity meeting preparation. “The Land of Lincoln” IS prepared for this moment. Illinois teachers are lucky as there is a plethora of civic education organizations that are ready to help. The menu of resources and strategies provided by each group illustrates that the civics is not “something else to add to the plate”, but IS the plate to “serve up” common core and 21st century proficiencies while empowering young people to take informed action as members of their community.

Teachers can get connected with these organizations and other civic practitioners this summer in FREE two day workshops throughout the state that offer CPDU’s and, in some cases, graduate credit for participants. Most importantly, teachers will become part of a cohort of individuals led by regional mentors dedicated to preparing students for college, career and civic life. Participants will walk away with ready to use curriculum and methodologies tied to the 2016 election and beyond.

Do you have any resources to share to help facilitate the new civic education requirement? Please send your suggestions to Together, we can prepare Illinois students for college, career and civic life.

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