Faces of Citizenship: Jury Duty

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Lesson At A Glance

This 8th grade project will be used as part of a year-long thematic unit on citizenship and tolerance.  Students will learn about both the rights and responsibilities of citizenship as they relate to United States history and the Constitution, as well as the necessity of showing tolerance to other citizens as part of one's responsibilities to the country.


  • Students will examine the United States citizenship test and interview adults regarding their feelings about citizenship.
  • Students will investigate the rights guaranteed by citizenship and the responsibilities of citizenship. 

Standards Addressed:

History Social Science

8.2.6  Enumerate the powers of government set forth in the Constitution and the fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights.

8.2.7  Describe the principles of federalism, dual sovereignty, separation of powers, checks and balances, the nature and purpose of majority rule, and the ways in which the American idea of constitutionalism preserves individual rights.

8.3.6  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.

Common Core State Standards for ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing Grades 6-12

Text Types and Purposes

1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge

7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Big Idea(s):

  • E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one
  • Tolerance is an essential responsibility of citizenship

Essential Questions/Issues:

  1. What does it mean to be an American citizen?
  2. Is citizenship a right or a responsibility?

Higher Order Thinking Questions:

  1. How do people exercise their rights as citizens? (Analysis)
  2. Do people pay back society or the government for the privileges of citizenship? (Evaluation)


Students will design a project outside of class that addresses the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.  Each student will investigate the meaning of citizenship in the U.S. and beyond.  They will create a project that focuses on the essential questions and higher order thinking questions.  Students will turn in a project that illustrates their findings on citizenship, as well as, a written report that answers the essential questions and discusses what they have learned about citizenship through the project. Students will be assessed through an original project that focuses on the rights, responsibilities, and requirements of citizenship.

Click here to download assessment tools

Activity Steps:

Click here to download activity steps

 Purpose Teacher  Student

30 minutes

Teacher places 5-6 quotes relating to citizenship around the classroom and asks students to stand by the quote that they agree with the most. Once students have a group to defend their quote and its accuracy/relevance. 

Students read each quote and stand by the one they like best.  Students then have 3-5 minutes to discuss the quote and formulate a defense for that quote’s accuracy.

Once students have discussed their quotes, they will pick one spokesperson to defend the quote to the rest of the class.


1 day homework assignment

10 minutes in class

Teacher asks students to think about citizenship and answer 3 questions briefly in class: What is citizenship?  What are our rights as citizens?  What are our responsibilities as citizens?  Students do a quickwrite in class to answer questions and then interview an adult using the same questions as a homework assignment.  Homework is due the next day and students report interviews back to the class.

2 weeks

Teacher introduces citizenship project where students have the choice between 4 projects that are related to the big questions:
• Citizenship Interview
• Comparative Analysis
• Photo Essay/Documentary
• Collage.

Guidelines for each project and student contract may be found under “student handouts”. 

Teacher grades all students on the same rubric and expects all students to turn in a project and a written report.  Written reports will answer the big questions and discuss what students have learned about citizenship.

Students choose a project and turn in a contract outlining the details of their project and their commitment to finishing.  Students have 2 weeks to complete project and it is graded as the bulk of their participation grade for the quarter.


Students will produce an original project based on ideas that teacher has given.  Projects will focus on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and how people participate in government.

 Beyond  Teacher provides students with a list of non-profit organizations that are in need of volunteers.  Teacher builds on citizenship project by introducing service learning to all classes.  Students will choose an organization and donate at least 5 hours of their time over the course of 1 quarter.  Students will log their hours and get them signed off by a supervisor and will produce a short written report detailing their experiences with community service.

Special Needs of students are considered in this lesson: 

I chose projects for my special education students and facilitated those so that the students could be successful.  The special education students did volunteer work on campus and received a specific outline so that they could write their report.  I worked with one student to help him put his thoughts into complete sentences.  With my help, he was able to go back and write complete paragraphs on his own.

Extension Ideas:

This project was completed in the first quarter of school.  For the second quarter, students will do service learning.  In the third quarter, they will focus on comparing governments as part of the unit on the constitution.  Ideally, they will complete a comparative analysis of a country that has a democracy and a country that uses an alternative government regime.


Materials and Resources Needed:

Depending on the project chosen, students will need:

  • Computer, printer, and internet access
  • Construction paper
  • Markers and/or colored pencils
  • Digital camera 
  • Glue and scissors
  • Transportation for community service projects
  • Library access for research


This website provided citizenship quotes for the hook activity.

This is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

This website was used by students who were doing a comparative analysis of citizenship in multiple countries.


Students Handouts:

Download student handouts here