Skip to Main Content

Project Citizen

You are in the main content


SOL Correlations

Virginia High School Project Correlations

Virginia Middle School Project Correlations

Managing the Class While Preparing the Portfolio

Many teachers express concern and some confusion when it comes to the practical implementation of the program. A common question is, "How do I manage my students and the tasks they are responsible for completing?" Although we don't have a definitive answer for you, click on these links below for some suggestions.

Step 1: Identifying Public Policy Problems in Your Community

Have all students do step 1, Identifying Public Policy Problems in Your Community. Complete this process as described in the teacher's edition - page 11

Step 2: Selecting a Problem for Class Study

  1. One good way to bring ideas together is to have the group of students take the three forms they used for research (Interview's etc.) and use the two documentation forms (pp. 69, 71 of teacher's guide) to analyze information from their research.
  2. Teacher should brainstorm ideas (using brainstorming techniques like writing on board or flip chart all ideas without immediate evaluation).
  3. Use questions on p. 12 of teacher's guide to analyze their suggestions from the brainstorming session.
  4. Allow students to vote on top three ideas. Each student gets three votes. They may place them all on one topic or spread them out.
  5. Have students evaluate the class's top three ideas using the following criteria:
    • Is this a local problem?
    • Is this a problem in which a public policy can be developed?
    • Does this problem have a narrow scope (i.e., instead of general crime, problem may be student graffiti at school?
    • Is this a problem not a solution (i.e., homelessness vs. raising money for local homeless shelter)?
    • Can you argue the significance of the problem?
    • Do you believe a realistic solution can be found?
    • Will you be able to find research on the topic?
  6. After eliminating the problems that do not meet criteria, have students vote on the one problem the class will tackle.

Note: At this time, look for similarities in the top three procedures. Do they have anything in common? Could they be reworked to include all three problems into one? Could the remaining problems become possible solutions to the chosen problem by rewording them? Including the ideas of all the students whenever possible will ensure that the entire class buys into the chosen problem so that students will stay enthusiastic about the project from beginning to end.

Step 3: Identifying Public Policy Problems in Your Community

  1. Divide the class into eight groups. Assign each group one source of information found on pp. 17-18 of student book.
    • Libraries
    • Newspaper Offices
    • Professors and Scholars
    • Lawyers or Judges
    • Community Organizations and Interest Groups
    • Legislative Offices
    • Administrative Agencies
    • Electronic Information Networks
  2. Allow students to brainstorm sources that might be used for research. Have several copies of Yellow Pages in the classroom for students to use to find names, addresses, and phone numbers of newspapers, lawyers, judges, bar associations, state government offices, state senators, representatives and other state offices. Each group should use the appropriate form in the student book to capture the information they receive from each source.
  3. Follow the information on step 3 on page 13 of teacher's guide. Use the research coordination form to ensure that students understand their task and know about deadlines for completion.
  4. Once all documentation forms have been completed, they should be filed and kept in the classroom for future use in the documentation section of the portfolio.

Step 4: Developing a Class Portfolio

This is where things get confusing. In the students' textbook, the students are told to divide into four groups to begin working on their portfolio. You can do it this way once all of the research has been completed. However, the portfolio is sequential and group one must be done before group two can begin working and group two must be done before group three can begin working, etc.

To avoid a number of pitfalls including lack of flow of the portfolio, kids sitting around waiting for another group to finish, etc., we have a couple of recommendations:

Model A


Once the students are divided into portfolio groups, allow group three to shadow group one and group four to shadow group two.

Model B

Two groups

Divide the class into two larger groups; group one will work on sections one and two of the portfolio. Group two will work on sections three and four of the portfolio.

Model C

Everyone Does A Little Bit of Everything

We have found this method to be very successful when we work with teachers who participate in Project Citizen training sessions, but it could work very well with students as well.

  1. Once we have brainstormed a list of potential problems and narrowed it down to one problem the group wants to do their portfolio on, we discuss the problem answering the questions listed on page 27 of the student book. We write our responses on the board or chart paper. We don't do anything with the graphic presentation at this point.
  2. Next, we brainstorm the two or three alternative policies. We then divide the class into as many groups as you have alternative policies. They then research the alternative policies answering the two questions on page 28 of the student textbook. Again, we don't do anything about the graphic presentation at this point. After the research has been completed and the one-page explanations have been written, the groups report their findings to the class. Each of the alternative policies is discussed then a vote is taken to determine which of the policies the class chooses for their class policy or if they wish to come up with another policy for their class policy.
  3. Once the class policy has been determined, as a class, outline the one-two page written explanation and justification for the policy for the display (or you can divide the class into groups and have each group outline the explanation, meet as a class and write a final outline). Make sure they discuss the advantages and disadvantages of their policy and that they discuss the state and federal constitutionality of their policy. They must also discuss what branches or agencies and what level of government should be responsible for carrying out their suggested policy.
  4. Finally, the whole class should discuss their plan for implementing their proposed policy. They should discuss influential individuals and groups in the community who might be willing to support their proposed policy and describe how they would gain their support. During this discussion, one or two students should take notes on chart paper. Then they should discuss groups in the community who might oppose their proposed policy and how they might convince them to support the proposed policy. Again, one or two students should capture the discussion on chart paper.
  5. Next, they should identify influential government officials and agencies that might be willing to support their proposed policy and describe how they might get their support for it. Then they should identify persons in their government who would oppose their proposed policy and explain how they might convince them to support it. All of this discussion should be captured on chart paper. Again, don't be concerned with the graphic presentation at this time. It is more important that each student be familiar with the content of all four steps of the process so that they could discuss any one of them intelligently.
  6. Now is the time to divide the class into the four portfolio groups described on page 24 of the student textbook. Some of the students will be responsible for composing the written explanations and summaries, some should begin finding or creating graphics for the display board and some should be responsible for organizing their research for the documentation section of the portfolio.
  7. It is a good idea for the class to get together periodically to report on their section of the portfolio and make sure that there is flow and continuity.
  8. After the portfolio is completed, the groups should begin preparation for the opening oral presentation (four minutes). The directions for this are on page 33 of the student text. It is important that the groups share their oral presentations with one another to ensure flow and avoid repetition. Groups should practice their presentations before the class for content and timing purposes. The teachers should be asking follow-up questions to help the students prepare for the follow-up questioning part of the hear