Public Service Announcement: Civic Responsibility

Lesson At A Glance

This is the final lesson in a unit designed to help students understand E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, One), and that personal habits and attitudes conducive to social harmony lead to a civically virtuous society.

See how this lesson fits into the context of a full unit, and prior knowledge students should have before doing this lesson.


  • Students will understand and be able to explain what is involved in a citizen’s civic responsibility and why participation is important using the information from earlier lessons, specifically the Roman Republic.
  • Students will comprehend the need to educate citizens on their civic duties in order to maintain the integrity of our community and government.
  • Students will identify and describe through discussions, written material and artwork how a society’s “civic virtue” benefits the well being of a people.

Standards Addressed: 

Grade 5 History/Social Studies:

Understand the fundamental principles of American Constitutional democracy, including how the government derives its power from the people and the primacy of individual liberty.

Grade 6 History/Social Studies:

Describe the government of the Roman Republic and its significance (e.g., written constitution and tripartite government, checks and balances, civic duty).

Language Arts:

Reading Comprehension (Focus on Informational Materials)

Identify the structural features of popular media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, online information) and use features to obtain information.

Discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing   evidence that supports those ideas.

Listening and Speaking Strategies – Students deliver focused, coherent presentations that convey ideas clearly and relate to the background and interests of the audience. They evaluate the content of oral communication.

Analyze media as sources for information, entertainment, persuasion, interpretation of events, and transmission of culture.

Visual and Performing Arts:

Communicate values, opinions, or personal insights through an original work of art.

Use various observational drawing skills to depict a variety of subject matter.

Essential Questions/Issues:

1. Do we all have a civic duty to the government to ensure that it derives its power from the people?
2. Whose responsibility is it to educate others about their civic duties?
3. Can a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens change the world?


Students will be evaluated through informal checks for understanding, self and peer assessments and creating an authentic assessment evaluated by a rubric, based on a 4-point scale.

Click here to download assessment tools.

Activity Steps:

Click here to download activity steps


Drawing review.

Review video segment, specifically the part about judicial system, its boundaries and ordinary citizens.  Students will share their interpretation of how the judicial system works to provide boundaries, but also how ordinary citizens play a part in the process.
Authentic Assessment:

20 - 30 minutes

Handout authentic assessment project criteria – communicate criteria and expectations. Give due date.

*Show PSAs – have students create one of them. 

Follow along – ask clarifying questions as needed.*With given criteria, create a PSA on self.

PSA – Guidelines for Rubric

When you think of advertising, images of commercials for sports cars, cereal or upcoming movies may come to mind; however, not all advertisements are about selling a product. There are organizations that utilize various forms of media to raise awareness of, gain support for and inspire action on behalf of social issues or disadvantaged communities. These types of advertisements are called public service announcements, or PSAs.

An effective PSA should accomplish the following:

  • Capture the audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression.
  • Make the audience aware of how your knowledge of civic duty can lead to a civically virtuous society.
  • Demonstrate how you have taken action, or how your audience can make action and do their civic duty, or support your community.

All PSAs should include:

  • Positive contributions that you have made or information educating the community on their civic duties.
  • A creative slogan.
  • Pictures and/or graphic organizers.
  • Some PSAs may include music and video, depending on your chosen media.

Special Needs of students are considered in this lesson: 

Students are put into flexible grouping scenarios that will address all learning modalities including special need students within our full inclusion program, as well as EL Learners. This is a hands-on learning environment with plenty of opportunities for movement, verbal and non-verbal communication.

Extension Ideas:

This lesson is designed to get students thinking beyond the classroom, into the community, but could easily be taken beyond the community and into a bigger audience base within the U.S. by putting PSAs on or other media forms.


Materials and Resources Needed:

During the authentic assessment piece, materials will include CDs for movies, computers, projectors and a variety of art, magazine and other materials for PSAs.


Doing Democracy -

Windows Movie Maker -

Free website maker –

Civic podcasts –


Outline of Unit Plan:

Unit Title: Will You All Please Rise?

I. Lesson One: Defining Civic Duty and Participation.

Analogies, inquiries and reading about the Roman Republic to create a foundation in the understanding of society participation in government.

A. Activities designed to help understand students’ backgrounds regarding service and civic responsibility.
     1. Bread analogy to show that key ingredients are essential for a successful project.
     2. Four Corners activity to represent students’ opinions regarding issues of community participation.
     3. Roman Republic information regarding the key features in making the Republic.

B. Draw what civic duty and participation looks like to individual students.

C. Creating a definition of civic duty and responsibility.
     1. Share out ideas and thoughts from activities listed above in order to generate a definition of civic duty and responsibility.

II.  Lesson Two: Where Do We Fit In?

Our role as citizens as it relates to the judicial system.

A.  Guest Speaker.
      1. Person from the community to share stories of youth roles in civic virtue.
B.  Watch “A Conversation on the Constitution: Judicial Independence”.
      (Start of video to 6:18) Sunnylands Seminars
C.  Draw an interpretation of judicial system and where “we” fit in, after watching video segment.

III. Lesson Three: Public Service Announcements.

Creating an authentic PSA to share with peers and community members.

A. Examples from various media forms.
     1.  Show PSAs from TV, magazines and Internet.
B.  PSA on self.
     1.  1. To raise awareness on the purpose of PSAs.
C.  Authentic assessment guidelines.
     1. Create a PSA showing civic participation and/or education with chosen media.
     2.  Share your PSA with the class and members of the community.