Project Citizen

Project Citizen is a project-based civic education program that involves students in understanding public policy and emphasizes responsible participation in local and state government. Students learn how to interact with government agencies to effect change.

Overview

Project Citizen is a project based civic education program for students grades 3-12. It emphasizes responsible participation in local and state government. The program involves students in understanding public policy. In the process students develop an appreciation and feelings of civic empowerment. Entire classes of students work cooperatively in small groups to effect change in their community. Students develop a digital portfolio that documents their work, and upload it to a website where it can be shared with other classes. See projects from the New Jersey State Project Citizen Showcases from 2012-2016.
(Link to Digital Portfolios)

The Project Citizen curriculum focuses on the role of the state and local governments. It involves a whole class of middle and high school students in cooperative learning activities that are guided by their teachers. Students learn how to interact with government agencies to effect change by following the following steps:

  • Identifying a problem in their community that requires a public policy solution
  • Gathering and evaluating information on the problem
  • Examining and evaluating alternative solutions
  • Developing a proposed public policy to address the problem
  • Developing an action plan to get their policy adopted by government
  • Organizing the materials into a portfolio to present to the appropriate governmental agency and to share at the annual State Project citizen Showcase
  • Reflecting on the learning experience individually and as a class.

Digital Class projects for 2015-16 will be accepted until June 2, 2017. To submit email: agardner@njclre.rutgers.edu.

"I use the program in all five of my civic classes. Every class works on a different topic of their own choosing, and puts together its own portfolio. We hold a competition between the classes in front of a panel of judges, made up of members of the community, to determine which class will represent our school at the state Project Citizen competition. Many students who have started 7th grade with distaste for social studies leave at the end of the year with a positive attitude and perspective."

Sarah Milochick
Gaudineer Middle School
Springfield, NJ

DIGITAL PORTFOLIO:

The digital portfolio should identify
  • the problem selected and why it was selected
  • alternative policies
  • the policy selected and why it is constitutional and the best solution
  • an action plan
  • reflections about the process and what was learned and a backup digital binder with research, letters, etc.

The digital portfolio you send to us may be in any digital format (but make sure that you send it READ ONLY so that it can’t be changed) and in a format that is not too large, including:
  • a powerpoint
  • Photostory (available free online)
  • a website
  • a video
  • a movie using Movie Maker (available free online) or other software
  • Live Binders (a free online source that allows you to create interactive
  • "binders" online and to upload pictures, videos, and other interactive content)
  • Any other type of computer-based presentation that you can send by link
  • to a website.

Suggestions about Teachers on Creating an Electronic Portfolio:

  • Create a portfolio yourself to provide an example for your students and to anticipate challenges.
  • Test out your technology ahead of time where students will be working on their portfolios to ensure they have access to certain tools.
  • Demonstrate each technology step-by-step with students in a lab setting.
  • If you are new to using Web 2.0 resources, start small.
  • Model adherence to copyright and attribution rules by having students use their own photos and videos, search copyright-free sites, and teach citation rules.

Web 2.0 Resources for Creating Electronic Portfolios (Students & Teachers)

  • Due to school Internet filters, some sites may be blocked.
  • All sites listed have a "free" option available.