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Responsibilities of Citizenship

55 min

Guiding Questions

  • What does a good citizen know, believe, and do?


  • Students evaluate and discuss the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and activities necessary for good citizenship.

  • franchise
  • suffrage
  • civil discourse
  • philanthropic
  • polls

Have students read Introductory Essay: Responsibilities of Citizenship.

Instruct students to ask their parents, siblings, or a friend what they believe make makes a good citizen and write down a few responses to share at the beginning of class the following day.

Teacher should cut apart the Citizen Slips on Handout B, and place the small strips of paper in a jar or envelope.

Divide students into groups of three or four and distribute Handout A: A Good Citizen. Give groups five minutes to respond on the Handout regarding the knowledge, beliefs and actions of a good citizen.

Reconvene the class and invite students to share their responses to Handout A. Keep a list of responses on the board.

Keep students in their small groups and have groups draw 5-10 slips from Handout B: Citizen Slips. In their groups, they should answer the question: At this point in your life, what can you do individually in relationship to the knowledge, belief, or action on the Citizen Slip?

Ask students to put their Citizen Slips into two groups: one for those Slips that describe private exercise of values (e.g. providing for family, keeping one’s promises), and another for Slips that describe public applications of values (e.g. voting, running for office.) In what ways might some of the activities overlap these two categories (private/public)?

Point out the Alexander Hamilton quote at the end of the essay:

“It seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, 1787)

Make a T-chart on the board with columns for positive and negative. Ask students to list a few of the most important types of positive “conduct and example” for the survival of good government. Then have them list some of the negative citizenship behaviors that concern them the most. Conclude by asking, “What can you do now to demonstrate and encourage behaviors that reflect good citizenship? To what extent is it your responsibility to resist and discourage negative behaviors?”

Have students research local non profit or government agencies whose mission they support. Have them note in their journals, what sorts of things they might be able to help with through volunteer work. Encourage students to follow through with these activities as they are able.

Go to and select one of their Top 10 Citizen Actions and document yourself completing them via a video recording, podcast, or journal entry.

Student Handouts

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