Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Be a Responsible Citizen: Vote!

Lisa Whildin


Explore American citizens' rights and responsibilities through group research on the Internet and presentation of content to the class.


The student knows that a citizen is a legally recognized member of the United States who has certain rights and privileges and certain responsibilities (for example, privileges such as the right to vote and hold public office and responsibilities such as respecting the law, voting, paying taxes, servinv on juries).

The student knows examples of the extension of the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship.


-Book: Sachar, Louis. CLASS PRESIDENT, MARVIN REDPOST. New York: Random House. 1999.
-Chart Paper and Markers
-Computers with Internet access
-Checklist and rubric provided in associated file


1. Obtain book, Louis Sachar's CLASS PRESIDENT, MARVIN REDPOST.
2. Preview website: Ben's Guide to U. S. Government for Kids (URL below)
3. Prepare questions on charts for each of the four groups.
4. Designate tasks for each member of the group. (Some experience in working in cooperative groups is assumed.)
5.Collect chart paper, markers, crayons, glue sticks and assorted materials for students to use in preparation of their visuals or other objects for sharing their research findings.


1. Begin lesson by reading aloud from Louis Sachar's CLASS PRESIDENT, MARVIN REDPOST.

2. After hearing the initial chapter in the book, students will brainstorm a list on chart paper of titles of elected officials in our government. They will list officials such as: President, Vice President, Governor, Mayor.

3. Project the following website on a screen for students to read about citizenship, rights and responsiblities of citizens. The URL:

4. Following the reading of the information found on the above URL, divide the class into four groups. Give each group a set of questions from one of the pages of the website. Questions include:
A. Citizenship: Compare and contrast the following: alien, national, and citizen
B. Becoming a Citizen: How do you become a citizen?
C. Rights of Citizens: What is the Bill of Rights? What freedoms are in this bill?
D: Responsibilities of Citizens: Besides voting, what are some citizen's responsibilities?
(Students share Internet stations and classroom or school libraries for references in answering their questions.)

5. Prior to dividing into groups, distribute the rubric (see associated file) to students and discuss thoroughly. Make sure students understand what will be expected of them.Tasks within the groups will be assigned in the following manner:
--Recorder of teacher-given question and answers on chart paper
--Illustrator of symbols or designs that reflect the questions and answers
--Additional questioners who dig deeper into the topic and make a list of further questions to be answered
--Researchers who find other sources for answers to questions
--Presenters who plan the presentation to the rest of the class (Presentation may be in the form of visuals, dramatizations, musical or art presentations, or reports.)

6. Students work for 30 minutes to prepare for presentations on following day and may continue researching or creating materials for answers as homework.

7. Bring students' focus back to whole group with these questions: Have you ever voted in an election? If our class had an election, which officials would we need to elect?

1. Continuing the discussion from Day One, the class decides on 3-4 elected officials for their class. As a whole group, they list 3 important criteria for each of the officials. The criteria are posted under the title of each elected official.

2. Students finalize preparations for sharing information on questions regarding rights and responsiblities of citizens. Remind students to look at the rubric because that is the criteria for their assessment. Each group makes its presentation to the class. Each student is assessed on the accomplishment of the collaborative task assigned.


Use the checklist for participation in group research presentations and the rubric for group presentations (see attached file) to assess the students' work.


Continue reading CLASS PRESIDENT to the students. Begin preparations for a class election. Involve ESOL and SLD students by preparing campaign materials (i.e., posters, slogans). Students looking for a challenge could write a campaign speech to present themselves (or another student running for office could make the speech).

Web Links

Web supplement for Be a Responsible Citizen: Vote!
Guide to U. S. Government for Kids

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