Do you try to get your students more politically engaged? Then you want to check out the Policy 101 course resources created by Action Canada. This summer, The Public Policy Forum (who works with Action Canada) invited SSENC members to review a selection of resources for the course and I was impressed with what they created. Policy 101 aims to inspire students to actively engage in the development of public policy.
The modules are very flexible, (and there’s a completion certificate for their portfolio you can hand out). Each module includes a short video that provides a foundation for further discussion, with ideas included in the teacher guides. What particularly impressed me about these videos was their representation of diverse backgrounds in the interviews, fully embodying the values of Canada and also allowing students to make connections with the speakers (all videos are available in both official languages). The order of module exploration can be customized to suit individual preferences – I would start with the second module as the speakers shared how they thought public policy was boring and unrelated to their own lives, only to realize the significant impact they can have.
The lesson extension activities include links to genuine policy papers generated by Action Canada Fellows. This allows for the flexibility of shorter lessons (for example, you could start each class with a video and brief discussion for 20 minutes over a couple of weeks), or a more comprehensive examination of politics and public policy over an extended period by looking at those policy papers. Modules 1 to 4 show students how public policy directly affects them, as well as encouraging them to consider ways they would want to influence policy decisions. Modules 5 to 6 delve into the structure of government and the procedural steps involved in the creation of public policies. Modules 7 to 8, yet to be released, include an exploration of potential career opportunities.
The website interface is user-friendly, with easy downloads of lesson materials for those who, like me, often do their planning on paper; bilingual transcripts of the videos are available for language learners, or students in need of additional supports. If you are uncertain about how to integrate these lessons into your existing curriculum, SSENC has collaborated with the Public Policy Forum to create a curated list of curriculum links, conveniently provided at the beginning of each teacher guide. Through these resources we can motivate citizens who take action to improve Canadian public policy.