Children Discovering Justice

Children Discovering Justice


Discovering Justice


For more information about our curriculum, please contact:
Laura Brenner, Education Director
Tel: 617.748.4199
Email: [email protected]

Children Discovering Justice (CDJ) is a literacy-based social studies curriculum for elementary and middle school, that provides students with the tools to understand sophisticated ideas such as democracy, tolerance, rights, responsibilities, and the connection between rules and law. CDJ includes interactive mock trials that further empower children to stand up for their beliefs, engage in respectful discourse, and resolve differences in constructive ways.

Through CDJ, students explore topics by reading a variety of viewpoints on the subject, writing about their opinions, and debating essential questions. By linking children’s innate sense of fairness with the lessons they learn in the classroom, CDJ builds stronger school communities and inspires children to believe in their own potential for success.

Children Discovering Justice began in the winter of 2000

with an idea from then Superior Court Judge Nonnie S. Burnes. Judge Burnes was interested in developing a civic education program for young students. Her goal was to help students become more aware of the ideas that organize our society and enable people to live together in a community. She believed it was important for young children to understand the principles that guide society and to understand the individual rights guaranteed by these ideas. As a parent, she knew that children benefit from the opportunity to learn about community and justice in school as well as at home. Judge Burnes saw what Discovering Justice believes–the necessity of the community involving itself in the moral upbringing of our children–and thus a great partnership was born. CDJ was first piloted in the spring of 2001 with fourteen classrooms in seven schools in the Greater Boston area. Today, the program is taught in hundreds of classrooms in Boston and surrounding areas.


What is Discovering Justice?

Voices of Children Discovering Justice

CDJ – A Teacher's Perspective

CDJ Brochure

CDJ Lesson 1: Establishing the Purpose for Reading

CDJ Lesson 2: Turn & Talk – Think, Pair, Share

CDJ Lesson 3: Vocabulary in Context – Primary Sources

CDJ Lesson 4: Preparing to Write


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