9 Ways Teachers Can Continue to Support Youth Voice While Building Civic Skills

October 15, 2018
By Educator Innovator

Our friends with 22×20 have put together recommendations and resources to support youth engagement in the democratic process for the upcoming (and future) elections.

Young people believing their voices matter is important to building engagement. The marches across the country on March 24th were an opportunity for some youth to use their voices. How can educators use non-partisan frames to support more youth to use their voices while building media literacy skills? We’ve got you! And, we are building a running list of resources and materials that you can add to.

Below is a list of ideas for how teachers can continue to support youth voice that was developed with the 22×20 education working group (which you can join!).

  1. PREPARE: Prepare yourself and deepen your skills by watching videos from the Teaching Channel’s Educating for Democracy Deep Dive of how other teachers are supporting student voice in the classroom and school environment.
  2. PLAN AHEAD FOR SCAFFOLDING: Review your lesson plans and build in regular times for meaningful discussion of challenging topics. Frequent opportunities to engage in civic dialogue can help students learn to see multiple perspectives on complex issues.
  3. MEDIA LITERACY THROUGH ANALYSIS AND REMIX: Remix media coverage of conversations about issues students care about using online media creation tools like EngagementLab’s Suite, Archive.org’s Popcorn, or The LAMP’s MediaBreaker to enable students play with ideas. For example, students could analyze and remix media coverage of the March for Our Lives.

  4. CONNECTING HISTORY AND CURRENT EVENTS: Create prompts for students to look back at history for examples of youth-led civic movements. They could look at the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins (and much of the Civil Rights movement), advocating for passage of the 26th amendment, and even the 2014 student walkouts in Colorado to protest changes to the history curriculum.
  5. BUILDING PERSUASIVE ARGUMENTS: Use the Project Soapbox framework where students build a persuasive argument to speak out on any topic. See examples from Mikva Challenge here.
  6. CONNECT LOCALLY: Identify a local election race occuring in 2018 in your community and ask students to identify a local issue, research what candidates think about it and create a statement with their analysis and opinion.
  7. REFLECT ON MOTIVATIONS TO PARTICIPATE: Talk about the power of voting and prepare your students to make informed decisions when they are able to cast their first ballot. Encourage students to consider and critically examine why having a vote matters. Students can check out historical perspectives on the topic and create their own memes or graphics about why they think voting matters.
  8. YOUTH FACT-CHECKING MEDIA ABOUT YOUTH: Join us in participating in International Factchecking Day by supporting youth development of media literacy skills through checking data ABOUT YOUTH. There have been an incredible number of news stories about young people. Are all of these stories using accurate information? This framework (PDF) developed with the Poynter Institute earlier in the campaign can be a helpful resource. We’ll be collecting these factchecks at 22×20@thelamp.org and sharing select examples more broadly.
  9. COMMUNITY RESOURCE LIBRARY: We are crowdsourcing a Resource Library of curriculum, media, source material and useful stuff for educators to facilitate political expression and media creation on civic topics (especially elections and voting!). Click here to start adding stuff you love, created or otherwise think people should know about.

This post was a collaboration between Chris Lawrence and Abby Kiesa, with input from various partners and practitioners on the 22×20 education working group.