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Service Learning to Commemorate Holocaust Rememberence Day

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist On April 4th, the White House issued a proclamation to commemorate Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day. One excerpt from the piece stated: It is painful to remember. It is human nature to want to leave the past behind. But in order to prevent a tragedy like the Holocaust from happening again, we must share the truth of this dark period with each new generation. All of us must understand the depravity that is possible when governments back policies fueled by hatred, when we dehumanize groups of people, and when ordinary people decide that it is easier to look away or go along than to speak out. Our children and grandchildren must learn where those roads lead so that the commitment of “never again” lives strongly in their hearts. Students from Glenn Westlake Middle School in Lombard, Illinois pledged to do their part to make a commitment to be upstanders in their community as they reflected on the lessons of the Holocaust and

Digital Well-Being and Citizenship

by Sue Khalaieff, Democracy Schools Network Manager The eighth session of the Civics Across the Curriculum webinar series was held on Thursday, April 8, 2021. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network (DSN) Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” View a recording of the session . The program featured two DSN members from Antioch Community High School (ACHS) discussing their ongoing efforts to blend digital literacy and citizenship with their staff and students. Grant Murray, Dean of Students and Jaclyn Orlov, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, began blazing the trail for this initiative at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. When this program started, it came out of a concern to promote a safe and responsible use of technology. This had been a concern for a while, but with this undertaking, the approach would be different w

Service Learning Connects Students with Local Elections

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist The Illinois Civics requirements for both middle and high school require students to engage in service learning to provide real-world opportunities to take informed action on issues that matter to them. These issues can range from local to global. Candace Fikis, a social studies teacher at West Chicago Community High School , collaborated with her colleagues Roberta Felfle and John Chisholm to engage students in understanding voting and elections by facilitating students to prepare and host a virtual candidate forum. This was an authentic opportunity to apply disciplinary content knowledge to a democratic institution that impacts their everyday life and prepare the community, including 18-year-old students, to cast their ballot. Candace, an Illinois Civics Instructional Coach and member of the Democracy Schools Network , is one of 26 educators participating in the Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Program with Volunteer

Stop AAPI Hate

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by Sonia Mathew, McCormick Foundation Program Officer and Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist On the evening of March 16th, eight people were murdered in horrific shootings in the Atlanta area . Six of the victims were of Asian descent. The Illinois Civics Hub and Democracy Schools Initiative mourn with the families and friends of loved ones who were lost in the attacks. These attacks appear to be the latest horrifying incident of anti-Asian and Pacific Islander sentiment in our country, According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian Americans in the 16 largest U.S. cities have spiked by nearly 150% during 2020 , while overall hate crimes dropped by 7%. Stop AAPI Hate has also released a national report that covers the nearly 3,800 incidents of violence that have been directed against Asian Americans. When tragedy and violence occurs, classrooms become an important venue for st

Service Learning to Bridge the Digital Divide

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist Teaching students in a pandemic is difficult with the best of supports and technology. For students in many rural communities, lack of access to reliable internet adds an additional layer of isolation, frustration, and highlights issues of equity and power. Hannah Maze and her students at Anna Jonesboro Community High School recently joined with other schools in her region to use service learning to advocate for policies to bridge the digital divide. Hannah Maze is devoted to creating hands-on content for her social studies classes. Hannah’s classes have created new school policies, worked alongside legislators in the region, conducted classroom debates, participated in Socratic Seminars, and engaged in mock trials. As part of the Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Program with Volunteer Generation Fund support from Serve Illinois , Hannah has worked with 25 colleagues throughout the state to enhance their use of the proven

Voting Rights, Election Laws, and the Courts

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist Now that the dust has settled from the 2020 elections, state and federal stakeholders are now reflecting and proposing policy changes to laws concerning voting and election laws . While some frame these current and societal issues around voting rights, others are framing new legislation around election security. Inevitably, courts will play a role in settling essential questions around the constitutionality of these endeavors. Dr. Steven D. Schwinn , professor of law at the John Marshall Law School at UIC, recently joined the Illinois Civics Hub for a webinar on Voting Rights, Election Laws, and the Courts to give a historical perspective on the Voting Rights Act, discuss current cases before the court and proposed state and federal legislation. If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording on the Illinois Civics Webinar Archive and this folder of resources shared by Dr. Schwinn . The Illinois Civics course requirements

Schoolwide Commitment to Civic Learning

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by Sue Khalaieff, Democracy Schools Network Manager The seventh session of the Civics Across the Curriculum webinar series was held on Thursday, March 18, 2021. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” View a recording of the session. The program featured Grayslake Central High School staff members from various departments, sharing the many ways that they have managed to bring civics into their classrooms and curricula. Jason Janczak, Social Studies Department Chair Georgia Brown, Social Studies teacher Brian Centella, Life Fitness teacher Jim Plaza, Social Studies teacher Lora Ciferri, Math teacher Jason Janczak began the presentation by laying out goals of the Democracy School team for improving the civic health of their school: Fully embrace the “Portrait of the Graduate, a part of the sc