Reading Response: Chapter 9


Zarrillo’s chapter on democratic citizenship is chocked full of good things. He starts by explaining the importance of teaching citizenship and how it should be viewed as the primary goal of all social studies programs. He moves on to discuss various perspectives regarding the role citizenship plays in social studies, bringing in research about NCLB and other studies. After establishing the importance of democratic citizenship, Zarrillo begins to discuss the three facets of citizenship education, content, values, and processes. Within each of these three categories, Zarrillo digs deeper by explaining specific step-by-step strategies for accomplishing the respective task. He closes the chapter by talking about how citizenship and classroom management are closely tied together.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • I found Zarrillo’s point on page 226 (middle of the page) fascinating. In many respects, most issues can be viewed as a pendulum; one side will usually lean to one extreme whereas the other side will lean to the other extreme, but the answer that makes the most sense is typically found somewhere in the middle of the pendulum where there is balance. Most situations require balance. NCLB, in an effort to bring students back up to speed, started to pendulum swing to one extreme that emphasized math, reading, and writing, leaving the sciences, the arts, and social studies to play catch-up every now and then. While I doubt very many people would claim that the sciences, the arts, and social studies are more important than literacy, there are still people who swing to that extreme. In reality, we need a balance.
  • Content value questions (pages 231-232) – these were extremely helpful to have listed and explained. It was also extremely helpful that Zarrillo integrated developmental psychology in with it.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

Back to the Classroom Management – what would you say is the most important management skill or strategy to implement in the classroom in light of democratic citizenship?


I had an “ah-ha” moment at the very end of the chapter where Zarrillo says, “The bottom line is we cannot expect our students to become effective citizens in a democracy if their classroom experiences are completely undemocratic,” (page 242). Previously on this page, Zarrillo talked about the importance of posting a list of student rights in the classroom. I guess I had just assumed that posting the rules would be enough; I hadn’t realized how something as simple as classroom rules could play such an important part in teaching students democratic citizenship.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes:

Democratic Citizenship

Luke 6

  • Promise of a true human community
  • Parts/components of a true human community
    • Values held in common by people on the inside
      • World values
        • Rich
        • Happy
        • Laughing/gloating
        • Recognition
        • Comfort
        • Success
      • Jesus values
        • Poor
        • Weeping
        • Rejected
        • Exclusion
        • Joy
      • Reversal
        • Prize what the world calls pitiable
        • Suspect what the world thinks is desirable
      • Relationship with Jesus
        • Seek Jesus – freedom from being controlled by temporal delights
        • Love others 1st
          • Pray for them
    • Relationships and regard you have for people outside
      • Tolerance
      • Enemies
        • Internal
        • External
      • Power for a true human community
      • “Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans and exclude myself from the community of sinners.” Miroslav Volf
  • 4 Corners Strategy – use for vocab or essential questions

Breaking down an Issue

  • Historical Thinking Standard 5
    • Identify the issue
      • Ask questions
      • Gather information
      • Analyze the interests and perspectives
      • Biblical perspective
    • Identify relevant historical antecedents
    • Evaluate alternative courses of action
      • Identify short and long term consequences
      • Identify what course of action benefits which group of people the most
    • Formulate a position or course of action on an issue
    • Evaluate the implementation of a decision

Information Abundance

  • Choose carefully: WHAT to present
  • Help students know HOW to know what to choose
  • Teach application
  • Critical Thinking
  • Search Specifically
  • Strategies: how to learn/reflect
  • Filter – Everything on the internet is always right

How to tell if it’s fake?

  • Split into grade level groups: 4th/5th grade
  • Identify the skills necessary to tell if something is fake at the grade level your group has determined
    • Skills
      • Critical thinking: Questions about Source
        • When was it published
        • Who by? Author Bias?
        • Reputation of website
      • Analysis
        • Comparing/Contrasting: Compare to other sources
        • Evaluating legitimacy based on other sources
        • Background Knowledge:
          • Know what you know
          • Evaluate background knowledge if it conflicts with another source – Who is wrong? Who is right? (Compare to other sources)
          • Utilize what you know
  • Create a mini lesson that is inquiry based
    • Start with the assessment (remember you need to know for EACH student)
      • By the end of the lesson, students will write a “click-bait” article after studying specific strategies and components of fake articles to recognize false information when they read it.
    • Work backwards
      • Big Idea: Digital Citizenship
      • Essential Questions
        • How can I guard others and myself from falling for false information?
        • How can I be a good digital citizen?

Core Democratic Values

  • Core Democratic Values:
    • The fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other important writings such as U.S. Supreme Court Rulings.
  • Guess the 12 first in your notes individually
    • Justice
    • Life
    • Liberty
    • Pursuit of Happiness
    • Diversity
    • Common Good
    • Truth
    • Popular Sovereignty
    • Equality
    • Separation of Powers
    • Patriotism
    • Rule of Law
  • One per paper


Civil Discourse

  • What is it?
  • What is the goal?
  • How can we teach it?

Put it into practice

  • Lesson Search by Grade Span
  • Move into Grade level groups
  • Each person picks a different lesson
  • Grade the lesson loosely based on our lesson plan rubric
  • In notes and report to grade level group:
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Contribution to democratic citizenship


What new information did you learn?

I learned a lot about democratic citizenship. I know that’s a very broad statement, but I’m not sure how else to phrase it. Growing up, I don’t remember being specifically taught about democratic citizenship and it’s only now that I’ve been looking at the standards that I’m realizing just how much my school didn’t teach. But who knows, maybe I learned more than I realized..

How has the material/experience affected you?

A little about my background: I went to Zion Christian School; their mission is, “to provide the children of Christian families with an education based on wholehearted commitment to the authoritative Word of God, forming within them a Reformed worldview, and cultivating their skills and abilities to learn and live based on their relationship with Jesus Christ, for the glory of God.” As a Christian, I’m somewhat cheering inside, because ultimately, learning how to live for the glory of God is one of the most important things an individual can learn. As an educator, I’m cringing inside. This mission statement gives me no desire to ever want to go back there and teach. They offer no philosophy for how to reach students or how students learn. There is nothing there to indicate that they want to build life-long learners. Overall, this seems to be a mission statement you might find on a church or even para-church website. I used to want to teach in a small Christian school-type setting. More and more, though, I’m realizing that that’s not truly where my passion lies. Democratic citizenship is only one of the many issues that have begun to open my eyes to my true passion. Ultimately, my dream would be to teach in an urban setting. While I realize that there will never be a “perfect” school, I see too many issues with the small Christian school-type settings to want to go into that type of setting and either put up with it or try to change it until I drive myself crazy. Who knows, God has a sense of humor and he may call me to that type of setting.

How has it challenged your thinking?

I need to be intentional about what the concepts I teach. Looking back at my past and comparing that to what I’ll be expected to teach (and what students will be expected to know), I will have my work cut out for me. I haven’t even graduated, much less started student teaching, and I’ve already begun to think about how I will begin to plan for a full year of teaching.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods


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