Overview of Generation Citizen Lessons

Unit 1: Choosing Our Issue

Lesson 1: Introduction to Generation Citizen

Survey, Ice Breaker, Class Contract

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
• Explain Generation Citizen and its mission
• Describe the rules in the class contract
• Explain the rationale for each rule
• Explain why it is important to create a class contract


Lesson 2: Mapping Our Communities

Define community, draw a map of your community, add resources and problems

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
• Describe different levels and definitions of community
• Identify several problems in their community on which they would like to take action
• Name the communities with which they most close identify
• Identify assets (i.e., resources) and needs (i.e., problems) in those communities

Lesson 3: Narrowing the Issues

‘If I were in charge of the ‘world,’ ‘country,’ ‘state,’ ‘city,’ and ‘school.’”... what would I change?’

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
• Identify their initial goals for the semester
• Narrow the problems in their community that they would like to take action on
• Listen to differing perspectives and respond respectfully

Lesson 4: Comparing Government Systems

Role-playing activity: Hogwarts, Oz, Countryville, Funlandia.

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
• Understand the basics of basic governmental systems: direct democracy, representative
democracy, single party, and theocracy including similarities and differences
• Examine and explain why people in different contexts might choose/have chosen
different types of voting
• Make an evidence‐based argument for a given decision‐making system

Lesson 5: Introduction to American Government and Lobbying

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
• Describe the goal and procedure of lobbying
• Identify the three branches of government and their main functions
• Explain the importance of lobbying legislators
• Identify their ideal Focus Issue and prepare to “lobby” for their selection for Lesson 5
Introduction to lobbying, narrowing focus issues further

Definition of lobbying: “To lobby means to influence or persuade public officials to take a desired action, usually to pass (or defeat) legislation.” There are two main ways to influence legislators: votes and money. Through grassroots advocacy, we will focus on influencing votes.

Three Branches of Government Diagram

Lesson 6: Lobbying Simulation

• Identify key political figures
• Describe the roles and responsibilities of key elected government positions
• Practice the basics of grassroots lobbying
• Evaluate the effectiveness of different argument points as they pertain to various

Lesson 7: Voting for Our Focus Issue

• Explain when particular types of voting are valid in different contexts
• Analyze how their own perspective about an issue is shaped by their unique life
experiences and other factors
• Define bias and prejudice
• Explain examples of bias and prejudice in their own experiences

Final Focus Issues

Period 3 - Antismoking/drugs campaign

Period 4 - Malden government responses to citizens' problems: snow removal, trash bags

Period 5 - New health and nutrition policy- clarifications and student voices

Period 6 - Security at the high school

Unit 2: Learning to Take Action

Lesson 8: Introduction to Grassroots Advocacy

• Explain the elements of grassroots advocacy
• Explain why the Civil Rights Movement is an example of a grassroots advocacy
• Explain how grassroots advocacy can be an effective strategy for effecting change
• Determine which components of grassroots advocacy could complement their action

A) Educating the broader public/Mobilizing public support
B) Researching the issue (learning from others)
C) Influencing decision-makers
D) Getting the media attention

Lesson 9: Researching Our Focus Issue

• Explain why research is necessary preparation for grassroots advocacy
• Identify what they know and what they would like to know about the Focus Issue
• Differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources
• Collect reliable sources to use in the research of their Focus Issue

Reliable Resources
Questions to ask web search results
HW: Find two sources about your topic

Real of fake?
First Human Male Pregnancy
Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Lesson 10: Effective Public Speaking

• Describe tactics effective public speakers use
• Describe why public sp
eaking is necessary in influencing decision makers
• Demonstrate effective public speaking techniques
• Present their research in a clear and effective manner
What should an effective public speaker do? Not do? List in the table below:



Watch the following clips and list what each speaker does well and what they don't do well:

The Art of Public Speaking
In groups of four,assign the following roles:
  • SPEAKER: Student will present a one minute argument about the assigned topic
  • ENCOURAGER: Student will focus on the public speaking skills of the
SPEAKER and identify what their classmate has done well.
  • IMPROVER: Student will focus on the public speaking skills of the SPEAKER and
identify what their classmate could and should improve.
  • NOTE TAKER: Student will focus on the content of the SPEAKER and take
notes on the content

Debate on the following topics:
  • McDonalds vs. Wendy's
  • Pepsi vs. Coke
  • Red Sox vs. Yankeess
  • Beiber vs. Jonas Brothers
  • Dunkin Donuts vs. Starbucks

Now connect this to our focus issue.

Lesson 11: Formulating Our Action Plan and Project Teams

• Describe the Sustainable, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely (SMART) criteria for goals
• Create a SMART goal
• Describe several possible action plans the class can take to address the Focus Issue
• Explain the need for group collaboration in working for social change
• Describe the final action plan

Work with your project team:
A) Educating the broader public/Mobilizing public support
B) Researching the issue (learning from others)
C) Influencing decision-makers
D) Getting the media attention

In your team, create an action plan
Please keep in mind the following time-line for taking action:
  • Pre-Action
    • Researching the Issue:
      • What is the specific problem?
      • Who is responsible?
      • What has been done?
      • What can we do about it?
    • Mobilizing Others:
      • How can we get a massive amount of people to care about the issue?
    • Messaging:
      • How can we create an effective message that resonates throughout the school and community
  • Action
    • Influencing Decision Makers
      • Petitions
      • Letters
      • Meetings
    • Media Attention
      • Opinion articles
      • Newspapers/news channels
      • Documentaries
      • PSA’s

  • As you use the internet to research, you will need to catalog your research effectively. One tool for doing so is found at www.delicious.com - take a moment and explore Delicious.com to get a feel for what it provides, perhaps following the prompts for a tutorial.

Delicious is also available within the Widgets of wikispaces - you can find it by clicking Edit, Widget, Bookmark, then by clicking the icon that pops up and the link for delicious.com that appears.


  • Set up a Delicious account

  • Create a link to your delicious page in your virtual notebook. Make a Generation citizen page

  • Using the internet, find 3 good internet sources on your focus issue and catalog them using your Delicious account.

  • When you bookmark your sites add notes and tags to keep track of your research. You may want to revisit the tips for reliable sources from our last Generation Citizen lesson. Your tags and notes should show that you have carefully read the information in the three sources you have cataloged.



Finalizing Our Action Plans

Review of our focus issue: exploring the problem. What have we learned through our research about our topic? What more do we need to research?

Once we have finalized our problem, we need to focus on ways to solve it. In order to do this, we will
  • set criteria for finding an effective solution
  • brainstorm multiple solutions
  • narrow down solutions to investigate]gather information necessary to judge each solution's merit and feasibility

List some possible solutions to our focus issue:

Now we must evaluate our list of possible solutions. Use the criteria list below to judge each possible solution we brainstormed.

Now we will judge and rank each possible solution and decide on one to be our class action plan:

The one with the most point will be our class project. We have about three weeks to complete this project, due May 4th. Let's get to work!

What needs to be done next? What parts would you like to work on?
List some possible steps that need to be done in order to make our project work in the matrix below:

Action Plans
Period 3 - Public Service Announcements - pick one week to spread the word about the dangers of smoking and try to stop smoking within the high school building itself
Period 4 - Organize a meeting with a member of the City Council/Public Works department to discuss the trash bag policy and share student views. Try to attend a budget meeting for next year to express concern about the Pay as you Throw bill and propose another repeal vote for next fall
Period 5 - Organize a meeting with members of the district Health Committe to discuss the process of the new Wellness policy - were students consulted? How did they follow the government's guidelines? How to we clarify/change this?
Period 6 - Install security cameras and a program to analyze the data, set up student hall monitors for safety

Unit 3: Taking Action

Lesson 12: Mobilizing Community Members

• Define and apply the concepts of community, stakeholders, and outreach/accountability
by revisiting some Lesson 2 concepts
• Explain the importance of getting others to care about their issue
• Present their action plan to diverse audiences, including community members
• Outline steps to get community support for the action plan
• Mobilize others to take action on their issue

Lesson 13: Writing an Opinion Piece

• Describe the influence of personal and opinionated articles on their daily lives
• Explain the basic components of an Op-ed and blog entry, and the differences and
similarities between them
• Outline their own Op-ed or blog entry about the Focus Issue

Lesson 14: Getting Media Attention

• Explain the importance of getting media attention
• Articulate the steps for getting media on an important issue
• Understand how to craft a message for the media
• Outline a plan for bringing media attention to their Focus Issue

Action! Day - Working in Project Teams

• Describe the different roles and goals of each Project Team
• Describe the benefits of collaborating with peers with different skill sets.
• Develop a time management plan with realistic deadlines

Action! Day - learning from an Expert

• Revise and bolster their action plan using evidence from outside expert(s)
• Explain how advocacy and expertise intersect
• Recognize the importance of outside expertise, and become inspired by outside

Action! Day - Putting Social Media to Use

• Explain the pros and cons of social networking and new media
• Strategize about how to take advantage of the “pros” and avoid the “cons” of social
networking and new media tools
• Identify how they want to use social networking and new media tools in their action plan

Action! Day - Outreach to Key Players

• Identify key stakeholders and power players in their action plan
• Outline a plan of how to contact these individuals
• Write respectful and effective letters or emails to these individuals

Action! Day - Influencing Decision Makers

• Explain the importance of influencing legislators through effective grassroots advocacy
• Identify several specific ways to influence their local decision-makers
• Outline a plan for how to contact the most relevant decision-makers to their Focus in a
succinct, effective manner

Action! Day: Being Informed Readers

• Identify key components of a well-written editorial
• Describe what freedom of speech entails, and understand its complexities
• Explain why Americans have the right to freedom of speech
• Explain the connection between freedom of speech and editorial/opinion pieces
• Understand how an editorial can be effectively used to advance an issue

Action! Day: Wrapping Up (this is mandatory and must come last)
• Reflectively process their experience with Generation Citizen
• Confidently present their action plan

Resource Links and Project Descriptions

Period 3 - Anti-drug campaign
Students will join the "Above the Influence" campaign and create individual signs showing reasons why they are above the influence. They will iron these signs onto white tshirts and wear them on a chosen day to promote awareness to say no to drugs. On this same day students will post PSAs around the school showing the negative effects of drugs and smoking and post the results of a student survey on what students claim to already know about the topic. Students also created a video showing ways to say no to drugs, smoking and alcohol at a party.
Lastly they created a website to document all of these ideas:

Malden Says no to Drugs

No Tobacco.Org
Capaign for Tobacco Free Kids
Above the Influence Campaign
Create your own posters and PSAs on this website. Games, facts, etc
Arrow Template



Period 4 - Promoting Pay-as-You-Throw
Students researched the national Pay-as-you-Throw waste reduction campaign to learn about all of the positive changes this trash program brings. They will educate other students and their families on why this program is beneficial and why we should support. To help the Malden City government, students will translate the violation stickers and notifications into 8 different languages so that they government can let citizens know when they have violated PAYT.

Pay as You Throw Conservation tool
EPA site on the topic, national level
Pay as you throw -Massachusetts
State information with case studies on the program
Pay as you throw information
Malden city information
Community information assistance
Malden Receives Recycling Award Article
City Receives Recycling Coliliton Award
The Cost of Going Green - Blue and Gold Article




Period 5 - Promoting School Nutrition
Students all signed a petition to bring healthy school lunches to schools across the country through Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. They applied for a grant through Whole Foods to get a salad bar implemented and maintained not only in the high school but within the district. They also contacted several health food companies that create healthy food for kids to see if we could sample some of these products, review them for the school, and decide how to get our cafeteria to sell these products. Several students interviewed members of the Wellness Committe as well as the food service staff to see their views on the new Wellness policy. Students are also trying to start a Cooking Club, which would promote healthy cooking and different types of ethnic food not offered in the school cafeteria.

New Wellness Policy Article
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Source of information, petitions, and a general campaign for better school food
Jamie Oliver Season 2 Episode 1
Episode clip explaining where school meat really comes from
Salad Bar Project
Whole Foods is sponsoring a project for healthier food choices in schools. Apply for Malden to get one!
Let's Move! Campaign
Michelle Obama's school initiative
Chobani Company
Free samples of kid greek yogurt?
Cliff Bars
Food Should Taste Good Chips



Period 6 - Recycling
Students will run a recycling drive on May 26th for the school, for products such as batteries, computers, cell phones, and other electronics which are difficult to recycle. They researched and will present information about the state of recycling within the high school and how the school system does not follow the citywide Pay-As-You-Throw waste reduction initiative. A few students have created a song to sing classroom to classroom to promote recycling and show the proper way to recycle and explain which items go into which bins. Lastly the created a wikispace page to promote their efforts and hopefully to continue the recycling program in the future.

MHS Recycling

Campaign for Recycling
Recycling Toolkits