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High School — Social Studies
Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities


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    Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities


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      Activities: Help with Fundamentals

      These activities can help you address the fundamentals of Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities with your students.

      Citizen Action

      Students who need help with the fundamentals of this benchmark should first understand the relevance of citizen action to their own lives, then to the country as a whole.

      First, prompt students by asking: What are some issues you feel strongly about (in school, in your community, in the country, or abroad)? What are some issues that you feel so strongly about that you want to change the situation? Once students have identified issues that they feel strongly about, they can identify actions that make a difference. Students can chart their responses.

      • How can you get involved?
      • What actions can you take?
      Issues I feel strongly aboutActions I might take to make a difference

      Once students have identified a range of actions they would take to change their surroundings, ask students to consider how many of these actions they could take if they lived under a dictatorship, theocracy, etc.

      Students might extend their work into a project, carrying out and analyzing some of the actions they identified.

      Abusing Individual Rights

      Help students understand what individual rights are and why they might need to be restricted in order to protect the rights of others and the common good.

      Define important terms:

      • Individual Rights - Privileges to which individuals are entitled
      • Common Good - That which is in the best interest of all members of a group (in the case of a nation, all citizens)

      After students have a solid understanding of these terms:

      1. Have students think of some individual rights: They can review summaries of the Bill of Rights for inspiration. Then ask them to answer the following question: What rights do you think you have in the U.S.? As students create their lists, check for accuracy and give them feedback.
      2. For every right students have listed, they should attempt to identify how this right could threaten the rights of other individuals and/or the common good.
      3. Finally, students can reflect on what government restrictions exist, or under what circumstances a government would want to restrict these rights.

      Here is an example of how students might organize their lists:

      Individual RightHow this right might be abused Government restrictions already in place Under what conditions a government would want to restrict these rights
      Right to freedom of speech Making false statements about somebody elseLibel lawsWhen speech is used to harm another person's reputation or personal well-being.
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