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The Harvard CIVICS Program places motivated undergraduates in classrooms throughout the Boston area, teaching civics and government classes to inspire students to take an active role in their communities and grow into participants in our democracy. We focus our curriculum on the function of government, the meaning of active citizenship, and avenues of community engagement. In the fall we teach about the structure of government, the three branches of government, elections, media, and current events. In the spring we teach about rights, responsibilities, community engagement, civil rights, and leadership. We are driven to provide civics classes to a range of communities and socioeconomic backgrounds. We have worked to provide a culturally relevant and empowering curriculum, in order to provide challenging and thoughtful lessons for all students while addressing the civic education gap.

About Us

Each week, Harvard CIVICS Program volunteers teach 1-hour civics classes to 5th graders across Boston and Cambridge. We send volunteers in pairs, one very experienced and one less experienced, to ensure our volunteers are prepared and comfortable in the classroom. All our volunteers are current undergraduates at Harvard College, and they all receive training on classroom management and teaching. Volunteers are provided a curriculum created by the CIVICS Program, and are able to tailor lessons according to the classroom composition, interests, and background knowledge. Many of our volunteers study government and history as undergraduates, so they bring extensive knowledge to curious classrooms.

In the fall semester, our curriculum focuses on the structure of government, elections, and the press. We go into detail on the three branches of government, the purpose of government, and how explore a number of current events. In the spring semester, our curriculum covers rights, responsibilities, civil rights, and leadership. We explore the way individuals are able to change their communities and the course of history through the use of their rights. Over the course of the year, we address all elementary school standards in civic knowledge, and even touch on a few standards in history. Our curriculum emphasizes diversity, empowerment, civic knowledge, and leadership.

We are a program of the Harvard Institute of Politics and the Phillips Brooks House Association. We are proud to combine their missions of volunteering, public service, and spreading critical discussion, serving the greater Boston area.
If you have any questions or would like more information, email us at harvardcivicsprogram@gmail.com
 

Why CIVICS

One of the foundations of our national heritage is an understanding of how our government operates. However, in recent years, civic education has been overshadowed by standardized testing and national accountability, leading to a growing civic education gap. In recent years, we have seen a resurgence in the emphasis on civic education with a growth of nonprofits and commissions on civic education. With the help of passionate teachers, we can work to close the civic gap across socioeconomic and racial boundaries, increasing political participation for young and disenfranchised groups.

Our knowledgeable and passionate volunteers work hard to connect with their classrooms, bringing energy and excitement classroom. Many of our classes are ecstatic when we walk in the room, and we are always happy to talk about our experience as college undergrads in addition to civics. We make sure to take on high quality volunteers, who bring thoughtfulness and competence to the classroom.

Finally, the CIVICS Program provides you with some time to prep! We request that teachers remain in the classroom in case of behavior problems, but while in the classroom, you can use the time as valuable prep for the week.

How do you select and train volunteers?
We draw applicants from all four years at Harvard College. After an intensive interview process, we select as many applicants as we need that cycle. New volunteers receive an extensive training provided by Phillips Brooks House Association, who run a number of afterschool and summer teaching programs. We work to continuously improve our teachers through trainings, discussions, and meetings.

What do you teach?
In the fall semester, our curriculum focuses on the structure of government, elections, and the press. We go into detail on the three branches of government, the purpose of government, and explore a number of current events. In the spring semester, our curriculum covers rights, responsibilities, civil rights, and leadership. We explore the way individuals are able to change their communities and the course of history through knowing their rights.

Over the course of the year, we address all elementary school standards in civic knowledge, and even touch on a few standards in history. We know what a struggle it is to cover standards, and so we strive to cover as many as we can and even going beyond the standards.

For 5th Grade students, CIVICS addresses the following learning standards laid out in the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework: 5.23, 5.24, 5.25, 5.26, 5.27. With an in depth focus on these topics, students will undoubtedly perform better on the MCAS test in History and Social Sciences.

We strive to cover material beyond grade level as well, touching on the following learning standards in the MHSSCF for US History I and II: USI.7, USI.8, USI.9, USI.11, USI.12, USI.13, USI.14, USI.15, USI.16, USI.17, USI.18, USI.19, USI.20, USI.21, USI.41 C,G,H. In addition, CIVICS introduces the following concepts that are covered in depth in the 12th Grade U.S. Government elective: USG.1.1, USG.1.2, USG.1.3, USG.1.4, USG.1.5, USG.1.6, USG.2.9, USG.3.3, USG.3.4, USG.3.6, USG.3.7, USG.3.9, USG.3.11, USG.5.1, USG.5.2, USG.5.3, USG.5.4, USG.5.10.

Spring 2014 Curriculum

Our Schools
Bradley Elementary School
Condon Elementary School
Fletcher-Maynard Academy
Gardner Pilot Academy
Graham & Parks
Jackson/Mann K-8 School
John F Kennedy Elementary School
Maria L. Baldwin School
Murphy K-8 School

How do I get CIVICS in my classroom?
We are always happy to consider new schools and classrooms for the CIVICS program. Contact us at harvardcivicsprogram@gmail.com

Teacher Evaluations
Teachers please give us your feedback on how CIVICS went in your class this semester. We greatly appreciate your input and rely on it to make improvements to the program.

Thinking about volunteering for the Harvard CIVICS Program? You've come to the right place! See if your questions have been answered already in Applicant FAQs and submit your application here!