What is Democracy in Action?
Arsalyn's Democracy in Action civic education project gives teachers lessons designed to inspire their students to become active participants in the voting process. Each of our curriculum booklets contain four lessons that can be easily inserted into an existing classroom. We also provide step by step guidelines describing how you can host a simulation election (SIMVote) on your school's campus. We offer, free of charge, lesson plan booklets for the elementary, middle, and high school level classroom.
Our elementary school Democracy in Action lesson plans are designed to bring high school students trained by their teachers into elementary schools to teach students about democracy and voting. The curriculum contains four lessons addressing key aspects of American citizenship and a fifth session devoted to a voting simulation with real voting equipment. The voting simulation is timed to coincide with real elections. Participating students simulate voting on the same candidates/initiatives as qualified voters in their area.
The first two lessons focus on four concepts key to American democracy:
- Majority Rule
- Individual Rights
- The Law
The last two lessons focus on the voting process - from registration and information to election campaigns and voting.
Our middle school booklet, Your Vote is Your Voice, is designed to present the importance of voting and to discuss the nuts and bolts of the American political system. Like the elementary school booklet, Your Vote is Your Voice contains step by step guidelines describing how you can run a simulation election on your campus.
Your Vote is Your Voice contains lessons covering the following topics:
Our high school curriculum contains lessons discussing a broad range of topics of interest to students who will soon be eligible to vote. Students are provided an opportunity to discuss the different political ideologies in the American political system, read about the electoral college, and debate the quality of current election systems. As with all of our Democracy in Action booklets, the high school curriculum contains step by step guidelines describing how you can run a simulation election on your campus.
- Heroes in the Struggle for the Right to Vote
- Separation of Powers in the American Government and Electoral Choice
- How a Bill Becomes a Law
- Local Government, Local Elections
Citizens. Not Spectators. is our high school level booklet and it contains the following lessons:
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- Democracy and Citizenship
- Where Do I Belong? Political Ideologies and Parties
- The Electoral College
- Should I Vote? Can I Vote? How Do I Vote?
Why is Democracy in Action needed?
The purpose of Democracy in Action is to begin familiarizing students with the meaning of citizenship and the mechanics of voting at an early age. Democracy in Action is designed in response to several reports, among them a 1999 report sponsored by the National Association of Secretaries of State, that identify a lack of familiarity with how voting machines work as a barrier to youth civic participation and urge educators to begin teaching young people about citizenship at an earlier age (New Millenium Project, National Association of Secretaries of State, 1999).
While a variety of civic education curricula are currently available, we think Democracy in Action fills an important niche: it is shorter than most such curricula, is easy to understand yet not oversimplified, and unique in its intergenerational approach.
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How can we get the free Democracy in Action curriculum?
Arsalyn's Democracy in Action civic education curriculum is now available free of charge. Arsalyn aims to encourage the implementation of Democracy in Action nation-wide and is pleased to offer the curriculum in either a downloadable format or in hard copy. If you wish to download a copy of any of our Elementary, Middle, or High School booklets, all you need to do is fill out our easy to use form. To request a hard copy of the curriculum, please use the message box below. Arsalyn is also pleased to offer nation-wide technical support for implementation of Democracy in Action.
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Standards and Implementation
Democracy in Action was first implemented successfully in Glendora, CA, schools. All levels of Democracy in Action were designed and reviewed by teachers, curriculum specialists and political scientists.
The Democracy in Action curriculum conforms with California State Standards for Content (CSSC) and includes elements corresponding to California State Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP).
If you would like to implement Democracy in Action in your local schools and have any questions regarding implementation, please feel free to contact us at the address below. If you are implementing or have implemented Democracy in Action, we would be very interested in hearing your reviews and comments.
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Please use the box below to request a hard copy of the curriculum, to find out more about implementing Democracy in Action or to share your views and experiences with the curriculum.