CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity

CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
CITIZENSHIP Debates: Racism, Social Justice, Fairness, Equity, Diversity
Product Description

Recent events in the US have highlighted the need for conversations around racism, social justice, equity and equality.

These high interest citizenship debates are a safe but powerful way to teach students that

  1. We can have opinions.
  2. My opinions can be different from yours.
  3. Your opinions can be different from mine.
  4. And our opinions are both equally valid.

The 17 debate questions go through a series of "fun" questions to more "serious" questions as they get students wondering about fairness and equality.

✅ The NO PREP slideshow lesson teaches the concepts.

✅ You can also EDIT THE FILES to fit your classroom needs.

THIS PRODUCT is CURRENTLY 50% OFF to make this lesson more accessible to teachers.

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Recent global events during the coronavirus pandemic have also highlighted the need for conversations around empathy, equity and compassion.

The Covid-19 pandemic makes it painfully obvious that we are all interconnected global citizens.

The danger, of course is that when an issue affects some people more than others, it’s very easy for us to think it’s not my problem.

That’s why now is an especially important time for us to teach our students what it means to be good citizens and why it matters.

This is the time to explore issues of empathy, fairness and equality.

  • Why do I need to stay at home or do physical distancing? I’m not going to get sick.
  • It’s mostly older people who are in danger. It’s not my problem. (No offense.)
  • It’s that country’s fault. Or, I don’t have to worry about it because my country is fine.

This is the time to remind students that while everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, we do have to respect that other people may have opinions different from ours.

(And those opinions matter just as much to them as our opinions matter to us!)

Even though we might not be at school, we need to explore how to be a good citizen… at school, at home, and in all of the communities we belong to, especially the global community.

NOTE: This package does not contain any information, examples, or language specifically about recent events in the US or the Coronavirus pandemic.

And, that’s a good thing because that makes that makes this lesson package timeless. Use this lesson today to address

  • some of the recent events in the US from a perspective of fairness, empathy and social justice.
  • within the context of Covid-19 and having to figure out distance learning,
  • or you can use it in the future when the next obstacle appears.

The end of the year can be an opportunity to do FUN HIGH-INTEREST lessons that you didn't have the time to do earlier.

We need to explicitly teach students HOW to be good citizens so they can actively participate in our classroom/school community!

These debates are also a great way to kick off a Global Studies unit or English Language Arts unit on essay or persuasive writing!

The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second best time is now. 

Likewise, Back to School is a great time to BUILD your classroom community! 

And, NOW is the second-best time to hook your students with high interest, visual lessons that introduce concepts of Citizenship, Empathy, and Fairness through FUN DEBATES!

PSST: If you know anybody who teaches Spanish, this resource is also available en español.

Saturday June 6, 2020 update: How do you teach the difference between fair and equal?

  • If we say that we don't see colour and that everyone is equal, just look at your pencil crayons. Do some colours get used more than others - even though colours are "equal"?
  • Fairness does not mean treating everyone the same. Fairness means giving everyone what they need so that everyone has equal opportunity.
  • When we say everyone gets treated "equally" so things are fair... that usually means we stop asking ourselves if things are actually fair by looking at the outcomes.
  • My anti-racism / social justice / citizenship debates lesson package is currently 50% off right now to support teachers discuss recent events in the US.

We've helped teachers around the world with over 10,768 product downloads! FOLLOW my store to stay in the loop!

4 UNITS we need to teach RIGHT NOW during the pandemic:

  1. REMIND students HOW to be GOOD CITIZENS to help our school and global community.
  2. EXPLAIN the COMMUNICATION process so we communicate more effectively - in person or from home.
  3. BUILD CHARACTER: develop resilience during uncertain times.
  4. THINK CRITICALLY: analyze information, form opinions, and make decisions based on logic and high-quality information instead of fear and emotion.

Why am I so passionate about 21st Century Learning?

SAVE HOURS OF PREP WORK. These lessons are high-interest and visually appealing. It will hook your students!


In the zipped file, you get:

OVER A WEEK of lessons to do with your class to help your students understand empathy, fairness, and community through 17 debate questions.

  • 79 slides in POWERPOINT and GOOGLE SLIDE format
  • 55 page lesson plan PDF with 8 DIFFERENT lessons (45-55 min each.)
  • 2 page graphic organizer to analyze debate questions (HANDOUT + sample answer key)
  • 2 page Vocabulary Building Graphic Organizer and Venn diagram (HANDOUT + sample answer key)
  • 1 page Citizenship Learning Skills SELF-EVALUATION handout
  • 2 page Citizenship Review Assessment - What did you learn? (7 short answer questions + sample answer key.)

THIS IS A TOTAL OF 171 SLIDES / PAGES in 8 LESSONS. If you want to introduce citizenship and community participation, we just saved you an incredible amount of prep work!

And the slides and handouts look legit good.

NOTE: THIS LESSON IS PART OF A LARGER BUNDLE about Exploring the Six Cs / 21st Century Skills / Competencies

The Six Cs are a bunch of transferable skills that you can use at school, at home, at a job… pretty much anywhere. They’re learning skills to help us be successful in the 21st century.

Each Chapter package focuses on a different “C” and contains different lessons, slides, videos, and handouts. Although we use the same structure in each chapter (activity, video, vocabulary building), there is no overlap of content between packages.

Lessons can be purchased individually, or you can SAVE MONEY and purchase the entire unit as a BUNDLE.

PSST, do you know the one magic phrase that teachers should tell their students? It's not what you think. Hint: It helps build a growth mindset...


Lesson Plans / Handouts

  • You need Adobe Reader or something that can open PDF files
  • (OPTIONAL) You need Microsoft Word if you want to edit the DOCX handout files

Google Slideshow

  • We suggest using Chrome as your web browser to view the slideshow at its best
  • (OPTIONAL) You need a Google account if you want to make a copy and edit the Google slides

Microsoft Powerpoint

  • You need Microsoft Powerpoint
  • You will need to install the BANGERS comic-book font (Included.. See below)


We provide over a week of lessons to do with your class to help your students explore what it means to actively participate in the communities that we belong to - whether we are members of our classroom, our city, our country, or the world.

In this package, we:

  • Introduce the concepts of empathy, fairness, and respecting different perspectives.
  • allow students to explore citizenship and community involvement by working through 17 question debates to develop critical thinking and the ability to support arguments and consider other points of view from our own.
  • provide discussion points of a YouTube video visually exploring global statistics - if the world were a village of 100..
  • allow for deeper exploration of the concept of “Citizenship” by playing with the term using the Frayer Model of understanding and a Venn diagram.


After this chapter, students will be able to explain that Citizenship is about:

  • Being part of a community (i.e. literally a citizen of a country or community)
  • Giving back to the community (i.e. being an ideal citizen)
  • Being part of several communities: school, country, global citizen

The concept of Citizenship is actually a little tricky. There are 3 separate ideas that we explore in this lesson bundle:

1. What is a citizen, literally?

The dictionary / literal definition of citizen is about “being a citizen of a particular country” (as in having a passport, and having legal rights from the government.)

2. What is an active citizen, or an “ideal citizen”?

We also explore the learning skills definition of a citizen, which is really about being a “good” citizen or an “ideal citizen” that is an active participant in society:

  • Do you understand local and global perspectives and address environmental, social, and economic problems through engaged citizenship
  • Do you take action to make a positive difference in the community and the world?
  • Do you participate in physical and virtual communities in a socially responsible and sustainable manner?

3. What are different communities that you can belong to (and be a citizen of)?

We explore being a citizen of a country, being a citizen of your local community / school community, as well as being a global citizen.


We provide over a week of lessons to do with your class to help them start to think about their values, their understanding of global and local injustices, and their concept of what an active citizen looks like.

(Each lesson is between 40-50 minutes long. We have a complete breakdown of ALL 8 LESSONS at the bottom.)

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • EXPERIENCE increasingly tough choices exploring fairness, empathy, critical thinking, and argument support
  • WATCH a visual representation about global facts and inequity
  • UNDERSTAND what “citizenship” is by using a vocabulary building graphic organizer (Frayer model) to brainstorm features of Citizenship, examples and non-examples of being a citizen, and finally narrow down essential characteristics of the word.


Teachers could use this package in their classrooms to introduce the concept of citizenship and participating both in the classroom, at school, and beyond.

1. Homeroom teachers

  • Do this package in the first month of class, to reflect on citizenship, and to practice a classroom culture of respectful communication. There are 17 debate questions for students to practice your classroom routines.
  • Teachers who have a social justice or a diversity / equity focus in the classroom will find the debate questions allow a high-interest, interactive way to introduce progressively difficult issues:
  • --- clean water vs medicine…
  • --- education vs war…
  • --- racism vs sexism…
  • --- Hunger - local vs global

2. English Language Arts teachers

This is an opportunity to link into oral communication / debate skills. Students will be looking into defending their choices with support through oral debate using a written graphic organizer to help them prepare their ideas.

This can also become a precursor to persuasive paragraph and essay writing. From a Bloom’s Taxonomy perspective, students get a chance to:

  • List ideas about their choice. (REMEMBER)
  • Explain their ideas / concept (UNDERSTAND)
  • Compare / contrast their ideas vs other points of view (ANALYZE)
  • Justify an opinion by appraising key criteria of their ideas, and then weighing which criteria is more important to them (EVALUATE)
  • Some students may be able to analyze the arguments of people on the other side of the debate, appraise which criteria is most important to them, and then develop a counter argument (CREATE)

3. Geography / Social Studies / Civics Teachers:

Possible ideas of what you could link to:

  • Roles and Responsibilities of Government and Citizens (Ontario Gr 5)
  • Responding to Global Issues (Ontario Gr 6)
  • Global Inequities - economic development & quality of life (Ontario Gr 8)

School leaders (Principals, Admin, Division Leaders) could use this package in their schools to create a common language and exploration of growth mindset.

4. School Learning Plans (SLPs) exploring “School Community,” “Diversity” or “Critical Thinking”

The 17 mini debate questions provide an opportunity for students to develop critical thinking skills and communication skills.

You could use this package and then explore ways students could help make the world a better place - both locally and globally.

Some of the debate questions begin to look at equity education concepts of empathy and fairness.

5. Common Language, Common Learning Goals

This unit provides a systematic way for a grade, division, or school to explore learning skills / character development as a framework of delivering provincial / state curriculum..

The debate questions provides everyone with a common experience between classes so that students can support each other, even though they’re in different classes. This is an opportunity for classes and extra-curricular clubs to develop social justice projects and open ended deep learning projects.

Doing the same (Frayer model) vocabulary building graphic organizer provides a common tool / framework that students and teachers can build around in other areas (i.e. math concepts, grammar concepts, science concepts, etc).

Ultimately, this chapter is meant to kick off a year / lifetime of discussion, as opposed to being a one-off activity. If all classes start off with the same approach, then throughout the year, as teachers do different activities, you could still connect it back to concepts of perspective, and recognizing that it’s okay for other people to disagree with you - can you empathize with their perspective, even though you don’t agree?


We based this schedule on a 50 minute period and providing around 40-45 minutes of content per lesson. (Let’s be honest. It takes your students a few minutes to wander into class, and you’ll probably need a few minutes at the end of class to go over homework or administrivia stuff for your class.)

Depending on your teaching style, how often you see your class, and classroom dynamics, you may find that you can get through all 8 lessons in 5 days… or it stretches out to two full weeks (10 days).

TEACHER TIP: If you’re short on time, pick and choose which debate questions to do.

DAY / LESSON 1 - Part 1 Activity Food for Thought - SLIDES 1-16 - 50 min

  • Introduction - What is a citizen (slide 1-2) - 5 minutes
  • Activity Food for Thought - Round 1 (slide 3 - 16) - 45 minutes
  • ---Introduction (slide 3 - 7)
  • ---Debate Question 1: Chips vs Chocolate (slide 8)
  • ---How to play (slide 9-13)
  • ---Debate Question 2: Early vs Night (slide 14)
  • ---Debate Question 3: Microwave vs Oven (slide 15)
  • ---Debate Question 4: Fork vs Spoon (slide 16)

DAY / LESSON 2 - Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) - SLIDES 17-30 - 50 min

  • Activity Food for Thought - Round 2 (slide 17-22) - 25 minutes
  • ---Review how we play (slide 18) - 5 min
  • ---Debate Question 5: Only child vs Siblings (slide 19-20) - 5 min
  • ---Debate Question 6: Left Hand vs Right Hand and videos (slide 21-23) - 15 min

  • Activity Food for Thought - Round 3 - 25 minutes
  • ---Intro + Handout (slide 24-28) - 5 min
  • ---Debate Question 7: Sight vs Hearing (slide 29) - 10 min
  • ---Debate Question 8: Dog vs cat (slide 30) - 10 min

DAY / LESSON 3 - Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) - SLIDES 31-36 - 45 min

  • Activity Food for Thought - Round 3 continued - 45 minutes
  • ---Review what we did last time (slide 31) - 5 min
  • ---Debate Question 9: Vacation vs $500 (slide 32) - 10 min
  • ---Debate Question 10: Social Media vs YouTube (slide 33) - 10 min
  • ---Debate Question 11: 5 instruments vs 5 languages (slide 34) - 10 min
  • ---Debate Question 12: Uniform vs No Uniform (slide 35-36) - 10 min

DAY / LESSON 4 - Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) - SLIDES 37-45 - 50 min

  • Activity Food for Thought - Round 4 - 50 minutes
  • ---Introduction of heavy stuff (slide 37) - 2 min
  • ---Minds on - 2 quotes (slide 38 - 42) - 15 min
  • ---What is empathy
  • ---What is fair?
  • ---Review what we did (slide 43) - 3 min
  • ---Handouts / Respect
  • ---Debate Question 13: Clean water vs Medicine (slide 44) - 15 min
  • ---Debate Question 14: Food vs Shelter (slide 45) - 15 min

DAY / LESSON 5 - Part 1 Activity Food for Thought (Cont) SLIDES 46-49 - 50 min

  • Activity Food for Thought - Round 4 continued - 50 minutes
  • ---Review respect and note taking (slide 46) - 5 min
  • ---Debate Question 15: Racism vs Sexism (slide 47) - 15 min
  • ---Debate Question 16: Education vs War (slide 48) - 15 min
  • ---Debate Question 17: Helping your students vs helping a country (slide 49) - 15 min

DAY / LESSON 6 - Part 2 Video - SLIDES 50-56 - 45 min

  • Part 2 Video - 45 minutes
  • ---Introduction - Minds On (slide 50-53) - 20 minutes
  • ---Watch video (World as a 100 people) (slide 54-56) - 25 minutes

DAY / LESSON 7 - Part 3 Vocabulary Builder - SLIDES 57-74 - 40 min

  • Introduce Part 3 - Understand (Vocabulary Builder) - Slide 57
  • ---Graphic Organizer set up - Slide 58-59
  • ---Minds on - Slides 60-61
  • ---Filling out the graphic organizer - Slides 62-65
  • ---Revising graphic organizer - Slides 66-70
  • ---Other Communities - Slide 71
  • ---Summary - Slides 72-74

DAY / LESSON 8 - Self Evaluation / Review - SLIDES 75-79 - 40 min

  • Student Self Evaluation - slide 75 - 78 - 10 min
  • Chapter Review Test - Slide 79 - 30 min

THE READ ME file in the PREVIEW file section tells you exactly what you get when you buy this product.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below! You can also find information about this Good Citizenship Lesson Plan package or 21st Century Competencies / Skills on our website.

Total Pages
171 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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