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Showing posts from September, 2019

Classroom Resources to Understand Impeachment

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Instructional Specialist
Last night, my Twitter feed was abuzz with colleagues seeking out grade-level appropriate materials to help students understand the process of impeachment. The information around this current and controversial issue is changing daily with competing narratives from the left and the right. This teachable moment IS political, but it does not have to be partisan. Here are a few resources that you can start with.
“A look at past impeachment proceedings” and how they’ve ended from PBS News Hour gives a historical perspective on impeachment.The lesson, “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” from the Constitutional Rights Foundation has both background information and a simulation of a House Judiciary Committee determining if an act rises to the level of impeachable.Khan Academy has an explainer video on Impeachment as does TedEd.Annenberg Classroom has a historical timeline of past impeachments starting with Judge Samuel Chase.Episode 10 of the Civic…

A Shining City Teeming with People of All Kinds

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
On Tuesday, I had the great privilege of serving as the keynote speaker at a U.S. Naturalization Ceremony hosted at our sister site, Cantigny Park. My remarks follow.

232 years today, September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was officially adopted at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The Framers set forth a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

But the question of who constituted “the people” has been a matter of perpetual national debate, as originally only white, male property owners over the age of 21 enjoyed the entirety of rights embedded in both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights adopted four years later as its first ten amendments.

Decades, even centuries, of fierce and sometimes bloody struggles have expanded the notion of citizenship, first to former slaves, then extending suffrage to women, and ultimately opening the doors of immigration from northern and western Europe to its sout…

Constitution Day 2019

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Instructional Specialist
It seems fitting that less than a week after commemorating the events and legacy of 9/11, “we the people” pause and recognize our commitment to form a “more perfect union” on Constitution Day.

In the Land of Lincoln, the U.S. Constitution is the foundational document grounding the IL Social Science standards in civics as well as the proven practices of civics embedded in both the 6-8 and 9-12 civics mandates. While we hope that every day is “Constitution Day” in the #CivicsInTheMiddle classroom, here are some curated resources to mark September 17th.

iCivics and Discovery Education are hosting a virtual viewing party for free in which students will explore how they have a voice, how it is protected, and how they can make their voice heard.The Civic Renewal Network has created a Teacher Toolkit complete with activities and a press release template that can be used to engage the community in recognizing Constitution Day.The National Co…

Remembering 9/11

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Instructional Specialist
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was preparing to chaperone a field trip of 120 freshmen to Chicago when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. In the hallway, my friend Jim exclaimed, “There has been a terrible plane accident in New York!” We proceeded to walk the students over to the local train station to make the trip into the city.

As the train stopped at our station and students were lined up to board, my department chair screeched into the parking lot and flew open the door to her car. “Get off the train! America is under attack. Get off the train!” There was no field trip that day. Everything changed.

One of my former students is now an administrator in our building. He recalls the confusion and unease in the days that followed and my attempt to create a safe space for students in those troubling times. He mused to me, “I remember that you were calm, but we could tell that you were kind of freaked out too. You answ…

Asset Mapping for #CivicsInTheMiddle

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Instructional Specialist
Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, civics will be required “in the middle.” Public Law 101-0254 requires at least one-semester civics within grades 6,7 and 8. This mandate not only prescribes what is taught in the classroom per the Illinois Social Science standards and school code requirements but also how it is taught, using four proven practices of civic education.

Anytime a new initiative is added to the required curriculum, it can be daunting. To begin this process, schools would be wise to identify the assets already in place and build on these foundations to meet the middle school civics requirement with fidelity. To this end, we have developed a simple Asset Mapping Tool for Middle School Civics to start the conversation. Educators can make a copy of this document to discern areas of strength and opportunities for growth.


In the upcoming months, the IllinoisCivics.org web site, blog, and newsletter will feature free …