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5 Best-In-Class Ideas for Teaching Students About Civics


Election years give us a unique opportunity to show students how they can use their voices to help create a better world. From mock elections to community betterment projects, teachers key into students’ passions and creativity to get them excited about being active members of our society.

With support from an anonymous donor, we launched the Civics Innovation Challenge. We invited teachers to share their best ideas for bringing engaging civics lessons to their students — no matter where they’re learning from. Qualifying teachers received a 2X match offer on their projects. 

We teamed up with CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) to select the winning teachers to receive $5,000 in DonorsChoose credits to use towards their next project.

Congratulations to these five incredible educators! Take a look at their projects.

Stormwater Drain Stewards

Mrs. Edwards | Michigan | Grades 3–5 

“Living in the heart of the Great Lakes, our focus tends to lean toward local watersheds and becoming stewards of our area waterways. Students will map out their neighborhood storm drains, plot them on My Maps, and then stencil around the drains to remind people that water flows from their neighborhood directly into the Detroit River.”

Math Provides: Empowering Kids To Help The Community

Mrs. Lira | Texas | Grades 6-8

“Nearly 15,000 children experience homelessness over the course of a year in Tarrant County. The materials in this project will be used to create much needed goodie bags for the homeless population in Fort Worth, TX. In this project, students will learn about unit rates, proportions and data while organizing and supplying the community with much needed basics.”

App That: Improving Media Literacy

Mr. Barcenilla | Hawaii | Grades 6–8

“In my classroom, I encourage mālama kaiāulu, (community contribution), and through our app design project my students will benefit from these resources by being able to demonstrate their understanding of what it means to be an effective community contributor by designing and creating apps that will help our community members learn about media literacy.”

Solutions By and For the Future

Mrs. Joanna Chappell | New York | Grades 9-12

“I am asking for a subscription to Scholastic Action magazine to teach them about national news stories. I will have them identify the problem that is brought up in the news story and have them think about various underlying issues that might have caused that problem. My students will then take the solutions they generated and write a bill that addresses the root cause of a problem and submit it to their local government representative to review.”

GoPro Video Software for Integrating STEM Application in Civics

Mr. York | California | Grades 9-12

“The 2020 election is right around the corner, and what better way to engage my students in this process than to integrate STEM into Civic Action. My students will use the GoPro Hero 9, connector, and mic to create a video podcast involving a STEM topic that is an election-related issue. Students will participate in the KQED Youth Media Challenge to do this.”

Inspired to create a project that will engage your students in civics? Get started.

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