Embedding civics and citizenship in the classroom

05 February 2024

If you're in preparation mode and looking to add some new resources to your classroom, we've put together an overview of different civics and citizenship concepts you can easily embed. These activities are not just for your humanities classroom but can be used across a range of subject areas.

All of our resources have been designed with flexibility in mind—regardless of year level, subject, amount of depth, or point in the unit— you can adapt the activities, questions and content to work with what you’re teaching.

Below are a few suggestions, focusing on some key concepts and skills, from some of our existing resources that you might want to consider embedding into your classroom. 


Representation and democracy

The Representation and democracy teacher guide explores the key differences between different types of representation and decision-making models with a focus on democracy. There are a range of suggested questions and activities you can use with your class to explore these concepts. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.

Establishing rules or codes of conduct at the beginning of each year can easily involve some democratic processes. Co-designing a code of conduct or set of class rules is a democratic process where all students can have a say:

  • Students can brainstorm a list of class rules, either individually or in small groups
  • Individuals or small groups can then come together to form larger groups where the rules are consolidated
  • Finally everyone can come back as a class to decide on the final list of rules.

If at any stage students don't agree on some of the rules, they can take a vote, or you may like to provide each group with a different decision-making method from the Representation and democracy resource. 

There is also an opportunity to engage in the democratic process of voting for class captains or student representatives. This is a good opportunity to explore preferential voting and for students to see first-hand how preferences are re-allocated if a candidate does not get the majority of votes on first count. The Victorian Electoral Commission has some excellent voting resources. Students can also explore the benefits and potential limitations of a representative democracy, and can compare this process to other forms of decision-making processes, such as monarchy, anarchy or consensus decision-making.


A guide to challenging conversations

The resource A guide to challenging conversations acknowledges that there may be occasions when you will be exploring issues-based topics with your class will potentially have a variety of view points, which might raise some questions and/or concerns. 

This teacher guide discusses the importance and benefits of these conversations for students, and why sometimes these conversations can be challenging. The strategies focus on student voice and agency, developing students’ critical and creative thinking skills, and encourages students to consider complex issues from a range of perspectives.  

The different strategies aim to provide options to facilitate discussions in a safe and respectful way, such as using question and sentence stems, Socratic circles and line debates. There are also suggestions on how to encourage students to meaningfully reflect on the discussions, not just the view points presented but also the structure of the discussion and their participation.  


Action and influence

The Action and influence teacher guide resource highlights the way young people can be involved in civic life and have their voices heard, even before they are eligible to vote. The resource explores the potential differences between activism, participation and advocacy, and some of the potential actions students might take to create change. Students are encouraged to think about the scale of the change, how long it might take for various actions to have impact, whether it is grassroots or leadership driven, and what the potential consequences and unintended consequences of actions might be. 

The different characteristics of action provides not only a useful framework for students planning thier own action, but also provides some criteria that students can use to analyse and evaluate the actions of other influential people or social movements. This resource can therefore be used across any classroom whenever there is a connection to how things have or haven't changed. 


Engaging perspectives

Our Engaging perspectives card deck is a flexible resource that can be used to support students when considering a range of view points on a given topic or issue. These cards are organised into three categories – stakeholders, priorities and emotional motivations, that are designed to be considered in conjunction with each other to outline unique perspectives.

You may choose to use these in a Humanities classroom, where students are exploring a range of different perspectives or issues, in English to help them consider alternative perspectives for a debate or written response, or even in Physical Education or Business Management classrooms, where the cards are used to represent a particular client. 


Standing orders

Our Standing orders resource highlights some of the key rules of procedure that each house/chamber follows during parliamentary sittings, such as the election of the Speaker or President, the rules each member must follow when speaking, what constitutes disorderly conduct and how it's managed, and how members can ask questions of other members.

The standing orders can be used with any classroom discussion or debate where there is a range of view points. The standing orders help to ensure a safe environment and that there is a fair chance for everyone to have their say. 

You may also like to provide students the opportunity to say "hear, hear" if they hear something they like, or "shame, shame" if they disagree with the point. These two phrases can often be heard in the chamber, as members strategically call out hoping to draw their colleagues' and media's attention to the discussion.

Download Standing orders resource