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Showing posts from January, 2020

Rethinking the "Both Sides" Reflex

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by Dr. Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz, Illinois Civics Instructional Coach
How often do we in American life talk about the need to represent both sides? I saw an intriguing interview last week in which a Congressperson complained to a member of the media that they were being unfair by not presenting “both sides.” We critique headlines, we talk of the silos in which we receive our news, and we discuss the importance of preparing our students to be smart consumers of media. But I confess, even with our good intentions I think at times we are led astray into thinking that presenting “both sides” is the best path towards objectivity and better news habits.

One example concerns the discussion of Confederate monuments. It might be tempting to set up an exercise in which students debate if monuments should be removed, with a reading representing “remain” and another posturing “remove.”

This feels neutral; we choose readings from two sides, structure student reading, and help them reach informe…

What to Look for in the Early Caucuses and Primaries

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist
The new year brings an opportunity to use the upcoming elections to engage students in the proven practices of civic education outlined in 6-12th grade civic course mandates. IllinoisCivics.org will provide a plethora of resources and lesson plans to support this important work.

Last week, Dr. Shawn Healy, Director of the Democracy Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, hosted our first #Election2020 after school webinar that examined the candidates, polling data, the mechanics of caucuses and primaries in delegate selection, and what to look for with your students in early 2020. If you missed the 45-minute webinar, you can access a recording.

Register today for our next after school webinar on Tuesday, February 18th from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. on Super Tuesday and the Illinois Primary. Those who register can join live or receive a link to view the recorded presentation and accompanying resources.

Each webinar concludes wit…

Guest Blog: Needing New Lesson Plans for the New Year? Check out Street Law

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by Jane Hicks, Edwardsville High School
On New Year’s Eve 2019, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a warning in his year-end statement when he observed, “We have come to take democracy for granted and civic education has fallen by the wayside.” Many civics teachers across the country heartily agree. Thankfully the State of Illinois now requires both middle school and high school civics education. More social studies departments across the state are re-examining the importance of teaching about government and seeking ideas to help their students. In addition to Illinois Civics, what is another great resource for political science teachers? Where can they find numerous lesson plans that help teach democratic simulations and controversial topics? Street Law.

While attending Street Law’s Supreme Court Summer Institute in 2019, I gained incredible insight on the workings of the Court, met teachers from across the U.S., and walked away with meaningful activities for my students. Street Law…