What Are My Rights…and My Responsibilities?

Civics Lesson Plans banner

Lesson At A Glance

The unit will introduce students to the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens and how these rights impact the function of democracy in our country.  This particular lesson will be a follow-up to the introductory lesson as a review of the rights and responsibilities and will conclude with an introduction to the public service announcement project. 


  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.   They will compare and contrast examples of public service announcements and determine characteristics necessary for their own projects. 

Standards Addressed:


8.3 Students understand the foundation of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate. 

Describe the basic law-making process and how the Constitution provides numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to monitor and influence government (e.g., function of elections, political parties, interest groups).

Visual and Performing Arts Standards:

Development of Partner and Group Skills

2.7 Demonstrate originality in using partner or group relationships to define spatial patterns and the use of overall performing space.

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Science, and Technical Subject 6-12

Speaking and Listening Standards: 8th Grade

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

5.  Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.


Essential Questions/Issues:

• What does it mean to be an American citizen?

• Is citizenship a right or a responsibility?

Activity Steps:

Click here to download activity steps

1. HOOK: Partner students and give them the opportunity to visit a website:
www.teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration to read immigration stories from present day children and from a woman who immigrated at a difficult time in history (use worksheet to guide gathering of information)

2. Students are grouped and given a package of rights and responsibilities, some of which are real and others not those granted to citizens. 

3. Students are to organize the cards into two columns with the correct rights and responsibilities while leaving those not granted to citizens on the side.

4. Teacher projects answer key and begins class discussion around correct answers.

5. Teacher explains authentic assessment overview and shares rubric for project.

6. Teacher shows example PSAs and asks students to rate their effectiveness then discusses with the class.

7. Students evaluate examples viewed and share through a class discussion. 

8. Students are grouped to begin projects. 

Special Needs of students are considered in this lesson:  Student groups will be selected with teacher assistance.  This will insure that groups are a cross-section of the class and not based on friendships.  The teacher should have a way to separate students based on their ‘expertise’ such as, actors, writers, artists, etc.  Once this type of grouping has taken place, the teacher can make project groups that are balanced with different types of learners. 

Extension Ideas:  Perform/play student-created announcements for another class of students without prior instruction on citizenship and have students facilitate a question/answer session to check for understanding based on their work alone.

Materials and Resources Needed: 

  • Computers with internet access for hook activity
  • Package of rights/responsibilities cards provided by the teacher
  • projector to project answer key, show example PSAs 
  • evaluation form to be completed by students


  • Website with selected examples to show students

Student Handouts:

Download student handouts here