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Civil Discourse and Petitioning

10 min

  • Constitution
  • Founders
  • virtue
  • Declaration of Independence
  • First Amendment

Civil Discourse and Petitioning Activity: The Bill of Rights Today

Have students use the Teaching with Current Events pages at, or other sources, to find current events articles that relate to the Bill of Rights. Students should choose four articles to complete Handout A: The Bill of Rights Today. In the “Ways this Issue Might Touch My Life” column, students should explain the relationship, if any, between the events described in the article and civil discourse/petitioning. Ask several students to share an example of the articles they found and how they touch their lives.


Civil Discourse and Petitioning Activity: Biographies—Vallandigham and Murrow

Students should read Handout C: Clement Laird Vallandigham and Handout D: Edward R. Murrow to analyze freedom of speech and civil discourse. Have students discuss how these two men affected civil discourse in their actions.


Civil Discourse and Petition Activity: Assembly and Petition Cases

Break students into five groups. Have each group read one of the summaries of the Supreme Court cases on Handout E: Assembly and Petition Cases. Students should answer the following questions about their assigned case: What are the facts of the case? What constitutional question did the Supreme Court answer? Why is this case relevant today? How is this case related to the concept of civil discourse? Have students create their own graphic organizer to organize their thoughts.

After each group is completed, do a jigsaw where the students from the first group are the experts on their assigned case to teach their new group.


Civil Discourse and Petition Activity: Citizenship Acrostic

Have students create a poem on Handout B: Citizenship Acrostic using the word “Citizen”. The poem should define what a good citizen should know, think, believe, do, or say. They can include actions, ideas, characteristics, and feelings in their poem.

Next Lesson

Voluntarism and Public Servants