The Teen Thoughts on Democracy curriculum is designed to be as enjoyable as it is meaningful. As students play games and engage in follow-up activities, they gain skills to think critically about First Amendment issues that impact their everyday lives. More than passing a series of tests, they learn to feel and think about the profound impact of free speech.
At the beginning of each set of lessons, a user-friendly chart details the lesson components and how you may obtain the lesson resources. We have tried to include almost all the materials you need to conduct these lessons in the project website. Lesson worksheets and texts are included as downloadable PDFs and links are provided when you need to access other websites and materials used in the lessons. In some instances, you may need to borrow from a library or purchase texts or videos, if they are not available free online. We have credited all sources of copyrighted materials as defined by fair use law.
The 21st Century Skills framework is a complex system that incorporates content knowledge, specific skills, expertise, and literacies to create a cohesive system of student outcomes and support systems. The Teen Thoughts on Democracy program utilizes the Partnership for 21st Century Skills framework to further the skills cultivated through this progressive game-based curriculum such as critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation.
Learning through game playing is not a new pedagogical technique, but has, instead, evolved over time. Teachers have long used puzzles, clue searches, and competitions like debates and spelling bees in the classroom. Play is a very effective teaching strategy to build many of the skills identified as those needed in the 21st Century workforce: critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, literacy, initiative and self-direction, and flexibility.
For each of the four themes, we have developed a creative response activity to engage teens in better understanding how visual messages are constructed and to give them the opportunity to become message creators. These “Activate” responses are designed to be collaborative group learning activities. They do not require extensive art supplies and can be assigned as out-of-class work with final presentations to be made in class. Depending on student access to computer technology and graphic design software, students may also use digital media to create their responses. To encourage students to take this activity seriously, we suggest you structure it as a competition and have students vote on the most successful results. You may create a Community Group (open only to the students in your class) in the Interact section of the website and they may upload their final designs there. We will be selecting artworks to be posted in a public gallery in the Teens section of the website.