Part #3 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) and how to get involved, by CRC Commissioner, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 8-30-17.
CRC in the Classroom ~Educating Future Voters (http://flcrc.gov)
The teachable moment….
Sometimes it only comes around every twenty years!
As a former educator, I believe the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a great opportunity to get young people directly involved in the sometimes far-away process of government. Knowing that someone “who can directly affect their lives” is listening on the other side is a tremendous motivator for students.
For instance, when I taught eighth-grade persuasive and expository writing, I had my students address their essays to Mr. Tony George who served on our local school board. After a classroom discussion about what a school board was, and what these board members do, the students wrote in their very best handwriting applying similes, metaphors, quotes, and first-hand experiences in an effort to persuade Mr. George to consider allowing gum-chewing, letting up on the dress code, providing more activities and after school sports … basically, any subject of their choice.
I was amazed at the increased motivation of the young people once they knew they were really writing to “somebody” and not “just writing.” The highlight of the experience was when Mr. George in red pen commented on each of the papers, and later, personally, returned them to our classroom having written his own persuasive essay in response. I read it aloud and the students noted his use of technique in the persuasive arena. It was fun! Without even realizing it, students learned about local government, politics, and most important, became motivated to express themselves in writing.
The Constitution Revision Commission of 2017/18 provides an even greater opportunity to give students an impromptu real-world civics lesson about the role of state constitutions and the difference between state and federal government. To get started, you can follow these steps for your lesson plan:
- Introduce the CRC at gov noting that the Florida Constitution is up for review.
- Introduce students to the chair and commissioners, the people they will be writing: gov/Commissioners.
- Review the Florida Constitution’s twelve articles and selected sections: gov/Constitution.
- Remind students that if they are thirteen years old today, in twenty years they will be thirty-three! Put students in groups to brainstorm and discuss what they think will be most important to the state over the next twenty years, and have them figure out what article and section of the constitution their proposal or ideas fits best.
- Show students how they can create their own proposals, applying their best English class skills, by using tools on the CRC website to redact or add language: gov/Proposals/Submit.
- The deadline being considered for public proposals is September 22, so please submit ideas soon! Student proposals can be submitted on-line gov/Proposals/Submit, emailed to the commission at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sent in the mail to: Constitution Revision Commission, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399. If there is not a particular commissioner your class wishes to write, you are welcome to address them to me.
I hope you’ll get your classroom involved. Real-world learning is so effective and fun. Of course, the main motivator is that getting involved with the CRC is a rare, teachable moment, that only comes around once every twenty years!