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May 1, 2022
Vol. 79
No. 8
Relevant Read

Flexing Citizenship Skills

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    Instructional StrategiesSocial-emotional learningEngagement
    Photo of the book cover for Students Taking Action Together: 5 Teaching Techniques to Cultivate SEL, Civic Engagement, and a Healthy Democracy
      Students Taking Action Together: 5 Teaching Techniques to Cultivate SEL, Civic Engagement, and a Healthy Democracy by Lauren Fullmer, Laura Bond, Crystal Molyneaux, Samuel Nayman, and Maurice Elias (ASCD, April 2022)
      One of the most important skills for college- and career-readiness is strong citizenship. So say the authors of a new book around techniques for developing students' skills to live and work in democracy-minded ways. The teaching practices of today, they write, "will define our society tomorrow." This requires strengthening not just civility, but also key social-emotional learning muscles like problem solving, youth leadership, character development, emotional regulation, and collaboration to shape a healthy society.
      Despite many states' professed goals to reinvigorate civic education, efforts continue to be, in the authors' words, "sporadic." They are often limited to one-off courses or an extracurricular activity rather than hands-on curricula embedded into students' everyday coursework. To scale up civic development—including student activism and voice—civics education must be a defining feature in every classroom, the authors argue. Given educators' already full plates, the authors created a model that integrates academic content with civil discourse and SEL exercises in ways that fit easily into current education models.
      Their approach is embodied in "Students Taking Action Together" (STAT), a set of five instructional strategies designed to integrate SEL skills and civil discourse into existing curriculum content for grades 5–12. Step 1, "Norms," focuses on creating a classroom climate for civil conversation. Step 2, "Yes-No-Maybe," builds skills for social awareness, while Step 3, "Respectful Debate," is all about developing students' ability to listen well to others' points of view. Step 4, "Audience-Focused Communication," develops students' skills at effective speaking. Step 5, "PLAN," provides a problem-solving strategy through which students make sense of problems and create action plans to solve them.
      The authors assert that it is educators' "underlying moral imperative" to help students "become the best versions of themselves as they strive to contribute to society."

      Kate Stoltzfus is an editor and writer for ASCD.

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