The inauguration of the President of the United States of America is set to take place on January 20, 2021. It is a significant event where the incoming President takes an oath to assume leadership of the country, and marks the start of a four-year term of office.

This year, the new President, Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have his hands full tackling the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to rage on in many parts of the country, a struggling economy among many other challenges. In the months and years to come, everyone including our middle school students will be watching to see how President Biden handles these tough situations and others that will inevitably arise throughout his Presidency. 

As teachers, we should aim to inform and educate our young charges about leadership, government and civic participation, and to this end, Read to Lead has developed a few resources that will be useful to help you go deeper with your students about this important part of history they’re experiencing. These resources will also help encourage students to explore related topics like community activism, how to build awareness around issues important to them and their communities, and using evidence to problem solve and make informed decisions.

By incorporating these resources into middle school civics lessons, we can help our students better understand not just the significance of the inauguration of the President, but also the role that we all play in society as active citizens.

Role of Community Activism

Community activism has long been an essential element of civic engagement and middle school is an excellent time for students to understand what it is and how to exercise their voice around issues they care about. In Read to Lead: Vital Signs, students follow the story arc of a power plant that is polluting the environment and causing people in the community to get sick. 

They learn how to raise awareness about issues that are important, as well as see how effective community activism can lead to real and tangible change.

Raising Awareness in the Community

For students, raising awareness about issues important to them may be one of the most accessible ways of promoting civic engagement. One of the enrichment projects featured on the Read to Lead platform offers teachers and students all the materials and scaffolding they need to create their own Public Service Announcement allowing them to apply the lessons they learned in the Read to Lead series to global or local issues important to them.

Based on the underlying theme of “I can make a difference”, these extended lesson plans guide students through creating their very own Public Service Announcement. Using Act Up, game 6 of Read to Lead: Vital Signs, as a starting point, students learn to work collaboratively to assess community needs, research and evaluate local and global efforts to create positive change, then develop a call to action for their own local community.

The Community Service Enrichment Project is another avenue for students to understand how they can serve their community and make a difference to the lives of others through community service. This project also lends itself to a deeper examination of how community organizations can work with government bodies (and even the President!) to create positive change.

Crisis Management

Students get a chance to experience crisis management through the lens of disaster relief in Read to Lead: Community in Crisis. The first three games dig into the various needs of a community and the ways in which people and organizations can come together in times of crisis to help vulnerable populations and people in need. 

In addition to that, the wrap around lesson for Game 2, which explores the definition of disaster relief, can be used as a starting point for discussions around the current pandemic. Students can evaluate real-life examples of how the COVID-19 crisis was handled in the US and in other parts of the world, and in having these discussions, also get a chance to learn more about effective leadership.

Decision Making & Leadership Skills

All three Read to Lead series focus on cultivating students’ decision making abilities and leadership skills. By putting students in the driver’s seat and making them the boss in-charge of leading a team of diverse individuals, Read to Lead fosters their critical thinking skills and hones their abilities to make tough decisions.

The experience students get from working through different scenarios as a leader on the Read to Lead platform is indispensable, both in understanding the role of leaders in the country and their community, and in shaping them to be future leaders in the workplace.

The Presidential Inauguration is undoubtedly one of the most monumental events that middle schoolers will witness in their young lives, and given the right context, will help shape their civic engagement in society in the years to come. By making use of these resources developed by Read to Lead, we can give our students a leg up in becoming active and engaged citizens of their community.

Help put your students on the path to being engaged and active members of their community today and groom them to become the leaders of tomorrow – Click here to sign up for Read to Lead!

About Read to Lead

Read to Lead is an education technology nonprofit that uses game-based learning to empower middle school students to develop their literacy, life, and career skills.