If you are a civics teacher for high school students, you might consider implementing some hands-on learning opportunities into your next lesson plans. Hands-on learning is the best form of learning because the students are engaging with the ideas or concepts that they learn from you or from their textbooks. This article will outline some of the best hands-on learning opportunities that are available for high school students.
Community service: Perhaps one of the best ways for your students to learn about civics is to get involved in their communities. They can do various activities to help out. They can volunteer at various organizations in their local communities. Civics is not just about learning the processes involved in creating legislation, enacting and enforcing legislation, and learning what rights are accorded to citizens. Your students need to become more involved with their community and help build it. Some resources are available in the “Resources” section of this article.
Discussions: Another great way to get your students’ hands “dirty” with civics is to allow them to engage in debates with one another. Of course, debating doesn’t mean that your students should get into arguments. The best way to organize a solid and educational discussion is to start a Socratic seminar. Socratic seminars are easy to start, because all that you need to do is give your students some reading. Your students should be given one or two days to read the articles and then to write down discussion questions and notes about them. Then, your students can sit in a circle and you can start the discussion by asking a broad question. This type of activity will encourage your students to develop their critical thinking skills.
Research: Your students should be encouraged to do their own research. At the beginning of the year, assign a research project. Your students might be allowed to choose their own topics, or you can provide them with a list. Some websites that help with research are listed in the “Resources” section. You can also find links to more interactive websites. Whether the students are doing the research projects individually or in groups, they should present their projects, one at a time, to the rest of the class. This is an activity that helps develop speaking skills.
Give your students the chance to experience civics for themselves. With your guidance, they might find that learning civics is not so bad after all.