Developing educated, informed, and engaged citizens.

Concept Map


Opportunities for all students, regardless of academic skill or ability, to engage in civic action by using knowledge and skills to address genuine community needs on a school, local, regional, state or broader level through preparation, action and reflection


  • Student reflections/exit slips
  • Root Cause Tree Analysis
  • Community Asset Maps
  • Curriculum Maps
  • Assessments
  • Reflections from community partners
  • Democracy School Student Survey data
  • Civic Action Fair


  • Identify community need and use skills from Math course to build a solution to meet that need
  • Research and understand candidate perspectives on issues for an election in Social Studies class and then volunteer for your preferred candidate
  • Analyze issues related to immigration in World Language class and create a project to address an identified need
  • Identify themes from texts in English class and create projects that address community needs related to that theme
  • In science class, analyze effects of lead in homes and provide opportunities to conduct lead testing and create brochures to educate community members on the issue

Connections to Principles of "Lived Civics"

  • Projects stem from student interest and build upon their lived experiences and identities
  • Projects include analysis of power as it relates to topics discussed
  • Awareness and reflection on how identity affects engagement with service learning
  • Understanding the unique needs of different groups in the community that students are working with

Case Study

The Monarch Butterfly project at J. Sterling Morton West High School is a student citizen science human impact project aligned to the performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core, and is about much more than saving monarchs. The primary goal is for students to learn how to solve real world problems, save one of the most endangered species in the world, and help build a better community around a common cause. It has connected Morton West students to students, citizens, and scientists all across America, Mexico, and Canada who are also urgently working on this endeavor. Students began by using scientific inquiry to study existing pollinator habitats to gather knowledge about biodiversity and the ecological needs of monarch butterflies. Building on this, they worked to determine a solution: to plan, design, and create a monarch butterfly habitat to be constructed on school property. Each student has a unique leadership role to play in their group: the team scientist, technologist, engineer, or mathematician, thus ensuring that each student is invested in the project regardless of skill and ability.

In addition to designing the habitat, each student devises a solution to a separate problem (their passion project), where they write a song, create an educational sign, make a film, create artwork or come up with anything they can that invokes the everyday person to stop and think about their impacts on their environment, and ideally, makes them change their behavior to reduce those impacts on the environment. Parents, teachers, administrators and all students are invited to view this work at an end of the year exhibition to better connect the local community to this project.