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Civic Mission


Civics In The Middle

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A monthly newsletter for Illinois civics teachers to support the implementation of the state’s middle and high school civics course requirements and K-12 social science standards.

Dialogue about Our Deepest Differences

A presidential election in this era of political polarization brings both challenges and opportunities in engaging students in current and societal issue discussions. Illinois Classrooms in Action is joining with to host an online webinar to discuss research-based practices to create a safe environment for students to address the most essential questions facing our communities. Participants will connect with resources to engage students in deliberation to enhance current classroom practice. Explicit connections will be made to the IL Social Science Standards, IL Civics Mandates, Social-Emotional Learning Competencies, the ELA Common Core State Standards, and the Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching. Register now at 

Professional Development Opportunities

Listed below are upcoming workshops and conference presentations that address the proven and practices of civic education and Illinois social science standards. Regularly visit our Professional Development Calendar for new opportunities to enhance your classroom practice.

3/9 - St. Clair County Regional Office of Education - Civics in the Middle: IL Social Science Standards & Civics (Belleville, IL)
3/10 - #ILSSCom - Dialogue About Our Deepest Differences (Online)
3/17 - DuPage County ROE - Medal of Honor Character Development Program for Middle School and High School (Cantigny Park, Wheaton IL)
3/20 - DuPage Regional Office of Education - Facing History and Ourselves: Middle School Civics and Student Agency (Wheaton, IL)

4/6 - ROE #11 - Support for Teacher Implementation of State Civics Mandate (Charleston, IL)
4/23 - Professional Development Alliance - Building Better Rubrics to Enhance Student Learning with the IL Social Science Standards (Joliet, IL)
4/28 - DuPage Regional Office of Education Administrators' Academy - Exploring the New Illinois Social Studies and Civic Requirements K-12 (Wheaton, IL)
4/30 - Lake County ROE 34 - Creating Performance Assessment Tasks with the Illinois Social Science Standards (Grayslake, IL)

5/5 -DuPage ROE - Thermometers to Thermostats: Designing Informed Action through Service Learning (Wheaton, IL)

JUNE  Putting Civics In The Middle: Teaching the 2020 Election and Beyond
Illinois students entering middle school this fall must receive a semester of civics instruction before moving to high school, laying a foundation for students to successfully complete a semester of civics before high school graduation. Join the McCormick Foundation staff and Illinois Civics Instructional Coaches from the region for a two-day workshop designed to build teacher capacity on the practices required in the new law: discussion, service-learning, and simulations. Using the 2020 Election as a teachable moment for civics, attendees will learn strategies for bringing these practices into their classrooms, receive free lesson plans from respected civic education providers, and learn about local resources to supplement civics instruction. Registration is free and attendees will receive a complimentary breakfast and lunch both days. Explicit connections will be made to the IL Social Studies Standards, the Common Core State Standards and the Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching.

Illinois Civics Simmer Workshop Locations
6/8-9         Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL)
6/11-12     Joliet Professional Development Alliance (Joliet, IL)
6/15-16     Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, IL)
6/18-19     DuPage Regional Office of Education (Wheaton, IL)
6/24-25-    KIDS Regional Office of Education (Loves Park, IL)
6/25-26     Regional Office of Education #17 (Bloomington, IL)
6/29-30     Rock Island Regional Office of Education (Moline, IL)

Youth In Government Day

The Paul Simon Public Policy institute is excited to announce its annual Youth Government Day in Springfield, Illinois, on Monday, April 27, 2020. This event is designed to provide students with insight into public policy, government, and politics. Throughout the day, students will access the Senate and House chambers and learn from various staff members working at the Capitol. Participants may also elect to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum at the conclusion of the day, free of charge.

For more information and to register for this event, please visit the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

Following March Madness 

Do you have your brackets ready for March Madness? No, we are not referencing the college basketball playoffs, rather the flurry of political contests next month that provides a unique learning opportunity for #CivicsInTheMiddle classrooms, as nearly two-thirds of the delegates to the national conventions will be selected by month’s end.  

The nation will be closely watching the results of Super Tuesday on March 3rd as the race for White House heats up. Closer to home, the March 17 Illinois primaries will provide an opportunity for #CivicsInTheMiddle classrooms to explore candidates for congress, the Illinois General Assembly, the state judiciary as well as important local races.

The team has been using our social media platforms to share resources around #Election2020. Here is a list of some of our favorites for your consideration.

  • Dr. Shawn Healy, Director of the Democracy Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, hosted an after school webinar that reviewed the presidential contest results to date and previewed what to look for on Super Tuesday.  Dr. Healy also provided an overview of the races to watch in Illinois. If you missed the 45-minute webinar, you can access a recording
  • The 2/17 #SSCHAT shared resources around Teaching the 2020 Primaries.  Find out more in their archives.
  • The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has created a 2020 Election Center to track youth voter registration rates, their views on the candidates, and their involvement in the political process.
  • The Teaching for Democracy Alliance has resources to equip teachers and administrators to engage students in elections and voting in a productive and safe way.
  • Mikva Challenge curated five lessons to help students take Elections in Action.
  • iCivics has a number of online games and lesson plans to help students navigate the Road to the White House.
  • Ballotpedia has resources for students to see who is on the ballot in their region
  • FiveThirtyEight is tracking polls in contested congressional races
  • The League of Women Voters- Illinois has an overview of the election calendar for Illinois and links to non-partisan voter guides.
  • WTTW in Chicago created a 2020 Voter Guide for the Illinois Primaries.
  • Project Vote Smart‘s Vote Easy platform compares candidates in both presidential and congressional races by their positions on key issues.
  • AllSides also has a review of the major candidates for president.
  • Looking for some online quizzes to match your students with candidates? Here are a couple to start with.

Join the Youth as Civic Experts Movement

This past fall, iCivics launched its inaugural youth fellowship program as part of a collaborative effort with Generation Citizen, to explore equity in civic education. At iCivics, equity means expanding the table and reinventing the ways organizations and institutions cultivate talents in communities. In an effort to be more inclusive and equitable, the virtual mentorship component of the Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship was expanded to all interested applicants, forming the Youth As Civic Experts (YACE) network. Follow #CivicsForUs on Twitter and learn more about this new initiative at the Civics For Us website.

Don’t Miss Out! 2020 Field Trips to Illinois Holocaust Museum Still Available!

Field trips to the Take a Stand Center to support the Illinois Civics mandate for middle and high schools.  Empower students to connect with human and civil rights history and challenges today, gathering tools for civic engagement and positive action in their community and around the world. Field trips are 2 hours and 20 minutes in length with varied time slots for grades 7-12. There is scholarship assistance available to qualifying schools for admission and transportation. Reserve your field trip today!

Classroom Resources to Support Simulations of Democratic Processes 

Both the middle and high school civic mandates for Illinois require the use of simulations of democratic processes in the classroom to help students. Evidence shows that simulations of voting, trials, legislative deliberation and democracy, leads to heightened civic/political knowledge and interest.

We asked our Illinois Civics Instruction Coaches for ideas and resources to support the proven practice of civic education in the classroom. Here are some of their thoughts.

Jason Artman- The Constitutional Rights Foundation (located in Los Angeles) has hundreds of simulations available across all three branches of government. Region: Bureau, Henry, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, Peoria, Putnam, Stark, Tazewell & Woodford Counties

Alia Bluemlein- The Congress Simulation is a great culminating activity for a unit on Congress. The great thing about this activity is that you can easily swap the topic out for something different depending upon the student population. It really gets to the heart of analyzing representation and argumentation, and can easily include a taking informed action component.  Region: Boone, Northern Cook, Lake, McHenry,  & Winnebago Counties

Candace Fikis- Looking to do a lesson on impeachment history or for the present, visit the Choices website for materials resources to use in your classroom. The evidence for/against the impeachment of President Trump is included and could be used for having students examine the evidence in a controversial discussion.  For more up-to-date resources with additional links to an interactive guide, see the New York Times’ resource. Region: Southern Cook, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall & Will Counties 

Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz-  The Street Law Supreme Court Moot Court Cases highlight several key cases from the current Supreme Court term and provide materials for teachers who wish to run a moot court simulation in their classroom. Students might find this term’s New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York especially fascinating and relevant to their lives, whether they live in urban, suburban, or rural areas. Region: Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Lawrence, Massac, Moultrie, Pope, Richland, Saline, Shelby, Wabash, Wayne & White Counties

Simulations of the Democratic Process will be the focus of our next Guardians of Democracy Microcredential. For more information on this FREE course, sign up to receive updates at the Guardians of Democracy website or follow us on Twitter @civicolympics.


Engage Your Students in #Census2020 

Where will you be on April 1st, 2020? The United States Census Bureau wants to know. Census results affect your community every day: school lunches. plans for highways, representation in Congress, support for firefighters and families in need.
The 2020 Census provides K-12 civics classrooms an opportunity to engage in inquiry leading to informed action around issues of power, opportunity, and representation. Schools can be critical partners to help Illinois take an accurate count. Our Census Toolkit provides plenty of resources to engage classrooms in inquiry around the census, help educators understand the challenges and opportunities of the census and offer community outreach materials to reach parents and other stakeholders. We also have a 3-4 day inquiry lesson, How does your community COUNT on YOU?,  to engage #CivicsInTheMiddle classrooms in current and societal issue discussions, simulations of democratic processes and service-learning per the Illinois middle and high school civic mandates.

At, we endeavor to link educators with resources that address essential questions with proven strategies and tools to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. This monthly newsletter provides civic educators with timely professional development opportunities, classroom resources, and inspiration with #CivicsIsBack success stories. For weekly updates on emerging research on civics, “teachable moments” and related materials, follow our blog.

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