Topic outline

  • General

  • Recommended Books

    Textbooks from the Center for Civic Education

    The Center offers a variety of civic education textbooks for elementary through high school students and beyond. These curricular materials engage learners in civics and government while building civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions. 

    Ebooks from the Center for Civic Education

    Visit the Center's ebooks page to see the array of ebooks we offer in a variety of formats. The We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution enhanced ebook on Actively Learn is perfect for flipped instruction!

    Other Recommended Books

    The following are recommended books from a variety of authors.

    On Classroom Instruction

        • Dilemmas of Educational Ethics: Cases and Commentaries. Meira Levinson and Jacob Fay, eds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.

        • Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding. Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2013.

        • The New Art and Science of Teaching. Robert J. Marzano. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press, 2017.

        • No Citizen Left Behind. Meira Levinson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

        • PBL in the Elementary Grades. Sarah Hellermann and John Larmer. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education, 2016.

        • PBL Starter Kit.  John Larmer, David Ross, and John R. Mergendoller. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education, 2017.

        • The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education. Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy. New York: Routledge, 2015.

        • Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning.  John Larmer, John Mergendoller, and Suzie Boss. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2015.

    Suggested Reading for Adults and High School Students

        • Federalism: A Concise Introduction. Larry N. Gerston. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2007.

        • The Handy Supreme Court Answer Book. David L. Hudson. Canton, MI: Visible Ink, 2008.

        • Let the Students Speak! A History of the Fight for Free Expression in American Schools. David L. Hudson, Jr. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011.

        • The Navajo Political Experience. 4th ed. David E. Wilkins. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013.

        • Reviving Citizen Engagement: Policies to Renew National Communities. Larry N. Gerston. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.

        • We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. Cynthia Levinson. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 2012.

        • While the World Watched. Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011.

    Suggested Reading for Middle School Students

        • Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference. Joanne Oppenheim. New York: Scholastic, 2006.

        • The Great Constitution: A Book for Young Americans. Henry Stelle Commager. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1961.

        • Let Me Play: The Story of the Title IX: The Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America. Karen Blumenthal. New York: Antheneum, 2005.

        • The Other Side of Truth. Beverley Naidoo. New York: Harper Collins, 2000. Reprint, New York: Harper Trophy, 2007.

        • Oxford Portraits Series. Oxford Press. Any title from this series is great for students.

        • We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. Cynthia Levinson. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 2012.

    Suggested Reading for Elementary School Students

        • Nettie’s Trip South. Ann Warren Turner. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987. Reprint, New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1995.

        • Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution. Jean Fritz. New York: Putnam, 1997.

        • Song of the Trees. Mildred D. Taylor. New York: Bantam Books, 1984. Reprint, New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1996.

        • Woodrow, the White House Mouse. Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes. Washington, DC: Little Patriot Press, 2012. See also: House Mouse and Senate Mouse and Marshall the Supreme Court Mouse.

        • Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss (Theodor S. Geisel). New York: Random House, 1958.

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    • Free Instructional Resources

      Lesson Plans

      Visit the Center for Civic Education's lesson plans page for free lessons on the Constitution, rights, participation, and much more!  

      Activities and Strategies

      We the People Resource Center

      The We the People Resource Center is a companion website for the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution Level 3 student text.  It provides teachers and students with electronic access to key elements of the textbook and links to primary sources, Supreme Court cases, multimedia, and helpful websites. 

      Civics Renewal Network

      The Civics Renewal Network is a consortium of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations committed to strengthening civic life in the U.S. by increasing the quality of civics education in our nation's schools and by improving accessibility to high-quality, no-cost learning materials. On the Civics Renewal Network site, teachers can find the best resources of these organizations, searchable by subject, grade, resource type, standards, and teaching strategy.

      Videos and Other Media

      What Is Public Policy with Larry Gerston


      Understanding Congress, Part1 with Lee Hamilton (2008)


      Understanding Congress, Part2 with Lee Hamilton (2008)



      Citizen Participation in State Legislatures
      with Leticia Van de Putte  (2008)



      The Role of Education in a Representative Democracy
      , Part 1 with Margaret Branson (2008)



      The Role of Education in a Representative Democracy
      , Part 2 with Margaret Branson (2008)



      The Philosophical Foundation of Representative Democracy
      , Part 1 with Anthony Corrado (2008)



      The Philosophical Foundation of Representative Democracy
      , Part 2 with Anthony Corrado (2008)


      The World We Want, a film by Patrick Davidson

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      • Reports, Research, and Articles on Civic Education

        Authentic Pedagogy: Its Presence in Social Studies Classrooms and Relationship to Student Performance on State-Mandated Tests

        The authors found that higher levels of authentic instruction were generally associated with higher student achievement. 

        Constitution Day Survey: Americans Do Not Know Much About the Constitution, But They Support Its Basic Ideas

        This survey finds that a large majority of people in the U.S. appear to agree not only upon the purposes for which the government was established but also upon what they see as many specific manifestations of those purposes. The survey revealed that the greater respondents’ knowledge of the Constitution, the greater the acceptance of its basic ideas. However, a majority of Americans think their national and state governments are not currently fulfilling the terms of their contracts with the people.

        Evaluation of the James Madison Legacy Project: Cohort 2 Student Knowledge

        This study evaluates the effectiveness of the James Madison Legacy Project in achieving positive student knowledge outcomes as a result of teachers’ participation in the professional development (PD) program. Students of participating teachers scored significantly higher on civic knowledge tests when compared with a control group regardless of whether their teachers participated in a traditional or a hybrid PD program that incorporated online blended learning.

        Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools

        This report is an urgent call for action to restore the historic civic mission of our nation's schools. It presents six proven practices that should be at the heart of every school's approach to civic learning. It also provides recommendations for education policymakers to ensure every student acquires the civic skills and knowledge needed for an informed, engaged citizenry.

        Teaching Civics to High-Need Students

        This paper is an exploratory study that addresses the following research question: How effective are the pedagogies teachers employ in the classroom in promoting high-need students’ acquisition of civic knowledge?

        We the People: Project Citizen Evaluation Brief

        This study found that Project Citizen students had statistically significant gains in knowledge of public policy and demonstrated superior writing ability in articulating, researching, and advocating policy solutions in essays addressing public policy problems. For the full report, please click here.

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