Topics Program


Topics Program: Grades 7-12

Through the Topics Program at Discovering Justice, students examine a single topical issue facing their communities, and cultivate the foundational civic skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to address the topic by understanding the issue from multiple perspectives, engaging in a dialogue with their peers, and taking steps to address it as an active citizen. Targeted towards grades 7-12, Discovering Justice connects classrooms with resources and exposure to community issues at the local, national, and global level with a consistent foundational connection to the legal field. The Topics Program brings community issues to life through lesson plans, panel discussions, and partnerships with external organizations like the ACLU, to illuminate a more comprehensive view of the semester focal topic and propel students to action.

Spring 2022 Pilot: Voting Rights

Connected to the 7th and 8th grade core curriculum, the spring 2022 pilot of the Topics Program will examine the current challenges facing voting rights, exploring the core values of access and representation. The small-scale, online-based nature of this pilot allows our piloting teachers to serve as real partners with crucial feedback in the creation of this program that we hope to scale across Massachusetts in the coming school year. In the case of this pilot we will be working with mostly 7th grade students and teachers, although we can accommodate 8th grade students upon request.

Teacher Commitment

During the February 2022–May 2022 commitment period, teachers are expected to attend and actively participate in the planning meetings; communicate consistently and openly as partners with Discovering Justice to open your classroom, provide feedback, and collect data; pilot curriculum with your class, scheduling accurately and in advance; provide feedback, student work, exemplar lessons, and more. Cohort teachers will be compensated for completion of this project with a $300 Visa or Amazon Gift Card, for an estimated 8-10 out-of-school hours of work ($30/hour).

Program Overview
Introduction to the Topic
In the first stage, the classroom teacher introduces students to the topic with Discovering Justice provided lesson plans and material.
Panel Discussion with Experts in the Field
Once students are introduced to the topic, Discovering Justice will connect students with experts in the field.
Student Engagement
The program’s third and final stage propels students to action and connects civics to their lives and community. At this stage, teachers choose one of three paths to complete the program depending on how in-depth the teacher wants to go, with short, medium, and long-term options.