Inspiring youth to engage in activating democracy and emerge as game changers



To survive and thrive, democracy must be a work in progress. Yet civics is usually taught as a static set of information that seems fixed and settled. Ultimate Civics has developed Activating My Democracy as a dynamic way to turn your students onto the active power of civics, as fluid and adaptive instructions for engaged citizens to support a living democracy. 

(1) Move ideas into action; (2) Understand values, wealth, and liberties; (3) Understand rights, privileges, and the balance of power; (4) Trace the historic roots of the democracy crisis in current events; (5) Amend the U.S. Constitution to protect our civil liberties; and (6) Exercise our fundamental rights to defend what we love.


Tools + Rules = Game Changers

TOOLS:  Students learn tools and skills available to citizens for understanding and protecting our wealth and liberties in a constitutional democracy (lessons 1 and 2).

RULES:  Students learn basic concepts and structure of government in principle and practice through lens of landmark laws that have shaped our society (lessons 3 and 4).

GAME CHANGERS:  Students explore two critical issues of their generation and what they might do to create game-changing action plans to support ongoing efforts (lessons 5 and 6).

Each lesson plan is supported with a teacher’s guide, PowerPoint slides, film clips, activities, vocabulary, exit tickets (learning assessment), and resources. Lessons 5 and 6 also provide extension ideas and resources for teachers to support youth who want to create and conduct their own action plan as a class or independent project. Time for each lesson varies.


Lesson 1:
How to move ideas into action

Lesson introduces a basic tool of civic engagement – organizing a game-changing action plan. Students analyze and discuss film stories to identify basic elements of SMART action plans created and implemented by their peers. Peer learning and interactive exercises nurture self-efficacy and support the role of young citizens in creating a more sustainable and democratic society. (Time: 50 minutes)

Lesson 2:
Understanding values, wealth, and liberties

Lesson introduces a basic tool of civic engagement – the concept that our rights, and the government created to secure our rights, is derived from what we value and love. Students explore and articulate what they value, then organize their values into types of wealth. Students identify values and wealth enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and codified into law as protected liberties under the Constitution. Using select current events, students learn how, and how well, our rights work to defend our wealth against government abuses of power. (Time: 50 minutes)

Lesson 3:
Who rules?
Rights, privileges, and the balance of power

Students critically examine the conceptual framework of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Civil War Amendments to understand how internal threats from inherent weaknesses in human nature – fear of other and love of power – were institutionalized in these documents. Students are introduced to a new threat created through judge-made law, the court’s role in shifting the balance of power, and the social consequences of this power imbalance during the first 160 years. (Time: 100 minutes)

Lesson 4:
Who rules?
The democracy crisis

Students continue to explore the democracy journey, starting with people’s movements for civil liberties and civil rights during the 1950s to 1970s. Students are introduced to the Powell Memo of 1971 and the strategic legal campaign, organized by the Monied Power, to influence political campaign outcomes.  Students explore the landmark laws and social consequences that resulted from this still-ongoing campaign and then reflect on the democracy journey, creating their own narrative of who rules. (Time: 50 minutes)

Lesson 5:
Real people to the rescue
How to protect our liberties

Students explore reasons and ways to amend the Constitution to establish that only natural persons have inalienable rights and that money is not speech. A film and interactive exercises help students understand and describe what a constitutional amendment could do, the social consequences with – and without – such an amendment, and how citizens can engage government in this process. (Time: 50 minutes)

Lesson 6:
Our future is a constitutional right!
How to use our rights to defend what we love

Students consider why people seek judicial relieve and examine basic elements of a civil lawsuit, drawing on real examples from the youth-driven landmark climate cases in federal and state courts. Students explore “standing” in a court of law, how protected classes and new rights are recognized, rights under the Public Trust Doctrine, and more. Students gain an understanding of how values, law, science, and politics interface when addressing complex public problems with multiple perspectives. (Time: 200 minutes)


Teachers are fully supported step-by-step with guided materials and engaging media.



Activating My Democracy Lesson 1 Cover Image






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