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Monday, January 26, 2015

Civics Education Resources

A few weeks ago, I put out a call for lesson plans/units or other material relating to the Montana legislature in response to a question from Roberts social studies teacher Clark Begger.

Almost immediately, I received copies of an email promoting a OPI's new Civic Education Resource (see below.)

Clark decided to have his students create a blog focused on student opinions about bills being debated. He's also posting his weekly assignments there. Assignment 1 sets the stage:

"Write a blog post that discusses the convening of the 64th Montana Legislature.  In your post, include:

  • Opening Paragraph - Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • Which party is in control of the House?
  • Which party is in control of the Senate?
  • What are the main goals of the Democrats during the 64th session?...
  • Your personal reaction to Democrat goals.
  • What are the main goals of the Republicans during the 64th session? ...
  • What are you personally interested in seeing lawmakers accomplish during the 64th session?
  • Speak in terms of categorical confines:
  • As a high school student, I'm interested in seeing legislators...
  • As a rural Montana resident, I'm interested in seeing legislators..."

Etc.

Later assignments include how to track bills and responding to one of the early legislative controversies. I'm impressed with both his assignments and his students' responses. If you teach government, I'd encourage you to check it out as a model.

The resources created by OPI (in cooperation with the governor's office) also seem extremely useful.
Their new webpage devoted to civic education offers resources for students and educators, a 2015 Legislative Lesson Plan, and the link to the new civics app that students can download on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. (The app includes a fun quiz--with new ones posted in February and March).

Finally, the Montana State Library has created a 2015 Legislative Snapshot, which offers "a wide range of information on issues that affect Montanans." The online version is customizable to search by legislative district or county level where applicable. Topics include

  • Economy
  • Demographics
  • Industries
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Early Childhood
  • Broadband
  • Libraries
  • Water
  • Land
  • Wildlife 


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