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One of our dreams, here at the FJCC, is to provide teachers with examples of other excellent teachers teaching the civics benchmarks. Happily, the Florida Education Foundation has seen fit to gift our wonderful teachers with just that! Tim Girard of Raa Middle School provides us with ‘live’ instruction of two benchmarks, 2.3 and 3.9. In many ways, these videos also illustrate some elements of the inquiry arc of the C3 Framework, as students research questions, explore solutions, and propose action!

The first video, below, has students explore the the responsibilities of citizens at the local, state, or federal levels (benchmark C.2.3). Notice the ways that he interacts with students and introduces them to how citizens can interact with their local governments. The student discussion of what they can do in their local communities is simply awesome. I can see how this might connect to 2.12, 3.14, and others as well!

The online tool and app he discusses and has them using in the classroom is called Public Stuff.

A screenshot of the Public Stuff app!

A screenshot of the Public Stuff app!

I confess that this was my first exposure to it, but having started playing around with it, wow. It is a great tool for both citizens and those learning to BE citizens! It IS currently limited in location, but let’s hope it starts expanding soon. Do you know of a similar tool in your area?

The next video shows Tim covering benchmark C.3.9, illustrating the law making process. Note that he focuses on local government because he has integrated discussion of the process at the state and federal level at other points throughout the year. I love how he has them collaborating and integrates those Florida ELA Standards as well. He has the students brainstorming ideas for ordinances to improve their local communities through civic action at the local level. In this case, they are starting to illustrate the process at the LOCAL level!

Tim makes a good point that it really is necessary (and possible) to connect this sort of benchmark to LIVED experience for students. One of my personal heroes, Tip O’Neill, once said that all politics is local. Ultimately, I think Tim illustrates that here with these kids. His active students are active citizens!