William S. Hart Union High School District

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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion » Resources for Civil Discourse

Resources for Civil Discourse

Thank you for visiting our Resources for Civil Discourse page.  Here you will find content we are aggregating to support faculty, students, and staff so that they may enjoy positive discussions.  This content will be updated on an ongoing basis so please check back for more information.
Video on "Civility in the Law and in Life" from the United States Courts
Civility is a critical factor in making difficult decisions in the law and in life. That is the conclusion that can be drawn from this video that captures the insights of federal judges who have several lifetimes of experience dealing with contentious, high-stakes issues in their courtrooms. This four-minute video is an educational component of a real-life civics program on civility and decision making for young adults coached by volunteer attorneys in courtrooms presided over by federal judges. In the Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions courtroom event, participants learn and practice behaviors, attitudes, and analytical skills that also carry over into their lives. High school and college students, who come to their local, federal courthouse in the upcoming academic year, will get firsthand experience with civil discourse and how it impacts realistic jury deliberations “Civility is a life skill, not just a legal skill,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson, of Jackson, Mississippi. She is one of six judges who share their insights in a video incorporated into the Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions program materials for students and their teachers throughout the 2018-2019 academic year and beyond. In the video, judges talk about their responsibility for setting the standards of decorum in the courtroom, using the same skills that young people need to set the tone for civil discourse in their daily life.
 
 
Educational Resources from the United States Courts 
This webpage opens with "Setting Ground Rules - Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions" and also provides a downloadable pdf with a related activity.  Other related activities include a role play, reflection, and quiz.
We have also created a Google Document of the ground rules for civil discourse and include the link here (you can make a copy of your own to save): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1azOSRoB-0VrN8u0ptXcJDx_HzS5ntORF7Q_H6jLA7HE/edit?usp=sharing
 
 
Paideia Seminar Approach
The Paideia Seminar Cycle comprises multiple close readings of a chosen text prior to discussion, formal speaking and listening during the seminar itself, and the post-seminar writing process, so all the core literacy skills are practiced consistently and synergistically. Since the Paideia Seminar Cycle features all the core skills of reading, speaking, listening, and writing, it allows the teacher to coach critical and creative thinking throughout, and students receive constant practice in thinking and discussion.
 
This site includes links to sample seminar plans, custom seminar plans, and free family seminar plans.  
 
Socratic Seminar Teaching Strategy
A Socratic Seminar is a structured discussion in which students examine issues and respond to open-ended questions about a text. Students use dialogue rather than debate to communicate with each other.  The Teaching Tolerance website provides a good overview of the Socratic Seminar.  In addition, there are several free resources available for teachers to request and use in their classrooms.
 
 
Identity Iceberg Mini-Lesson
Only a small portion of an iceberg can be seen above the waterline. Similarly, understanding someone's identity is limited by what we see on the surface. This mini lesson explores the concept of identity and the importance of going "below the waterline" to challenge and avoid stereotypes and identity-based bias.