Skip to main content

Annual Conference for Teachers in Civics

2021 Workshops

Creating an Inclusive Democracy

The 2021 Annual Conference for Teachers in Civics, Law, and Government, themed “Creating an Inclusive Democracy,” addresses the tensions that define modern American life. It offers resources dealing with current challenges to individual liberties, the legal system, the electoral system, and fundamental democratic institutions. The 2021 conference offers teachers an opportunity to discuss these challenges with other teachers and explore ways to promote a more inclusive vision of our democracy.

Workshop Descriptions

A History of Campaign Finance Reform
Presenter:  David Melton, Reform for Illinois

This session will review the history of how political campaigns have been financed over the nation's past 250 years, as well as the four major efforts to reform the campaign finance system

Amending the Constitution
Presenters: Cathie Hawke & Tiffany Middleton
American Bar Association Division for Public Education

How can the Constitution be changed formally and informally? In this session participants will explore the role of the courts, congress, and social movements in creating "a more perfect union" through formal and informal amendments.

Balancing Government & Private Interests - the Dakota Access Pipeline
Presenter:  Noah Smith-Drelich, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

This presentation will address the right of private individuals to sue the government, to explore how the exercise of this right helps maintain the balance between government interests and private interests -- and drives social change. Professor Smith-Drelich will use a case study, Thunderhawk v. City of Morton, a class action suit related to the 2016–2017 Standing Rock Nation’s opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (in which Professor Smith-Drelich is lead counsel).

Commerce Clause in American History
Presenters: Cathie Hawke & Tiffany Middleton
American Bar Association Division for Public Education

In this session we will explore how the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution has been used to effect significant social changes across U.S. history, all framed as commerce, including the Sherman Antitrust Act, National Labor Relations Act, Civil Rights Act, and Affordable Care Act.

Controversial Cases before the Supreme Court
Presenter: Carolyn Shapiro, Chicago-Kent College of Law

The Supreme Court’s 2021 term is promising to be one of the most significant terms in the Court’s history. In this session we will examine two cases that may significantly impact a women’s right to choose and where the right to possess a gun begins and ends. 

Does the U.S. Supreme Court protect the underrepresented?
Presenter: Dan Cotter, Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC

This session will explore how the Supreme Court has treated the underrepresented through the lens of history. Some scholars have described the Court as antimajoritarian, but looking at the most recent Supreme Court lineup, concerns about how this Court will impact future protections for the underrepresented abound.

Empowering Your Students to Take a Stand
Presenter: Jessica Hulten
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

In this workshop, educators will learn how to empower students to connect with human and civil rights history and challenges today, gathering tools for civic engagement and positive action in their community and world through the Museum’s virtual resources. Educators will have the opportunity to engage with the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Take a Stand Center virtual field trip and be taught how to bring these age-appropriate lessons into the classroom. Participants will explore the Upstanders in the virtual field trip working to champion areas of economic opportunity, equal rights, safe communities, education and health, and the environment. Educators will leave with the tools to help students learn how to take action on issues that matter to them.

Engaging Your Students in Government
Presenters: Sean Nelson & Julie Kapsch Illinois YMCA Youth and Government

This session will focus on a youth leadership and civic engagement program that is student-driven and teaches leadership through a Model Legislative and Judicial program. This learn-by-doing experience teaches the values of democracy by bringing together a cross section of Illinois high school students. Join us to find out how your students can experience government first-hand and learn how to solve community problems utilizing democratic processes and discussion skills with their peers.




Workshop Descriptions Continued

Inclusivity in Teaching
Presenter: Dr. Kelly N. Ferguson, Loyola University Chicago

How can your classroom support the culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse students that you serve? In this session, participants will explore pragmatic approaches to curating an inclusive classroom environment responsive to students’ educational needs.

Shifting Gears After 25 Years
Presenter: Marshall Schacht, St. Joseph-Ogden High School

In this session, I will share ways to keep your students motivated through my experience with adopting new materials and teaching tools. Find out how my civics classroom has resulted in motivated students that graduate with a sense of civic responsibility and a passion for social justice.

Should We Filibuster the Filibuster?
Presenter: Dan Cotter, Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC

The filibuster in the Senate has been a focus during the current legislative session that began in 2021, although it has been discussed in recent years, given the closeness of the Senate. We will discuss its history, some reforms in recent years for federal judges and Supreme Court, the history of the House filibuster, and how the continued filibuster results in continued inequality in the United States.

Supreme Court Preview (OT 21) - Offered Twice
Presenter: Steven Schwinn, UIC John Marshall Law School

This session will preview the major cases now on the docket for the Supreme Court's October 2021 Term, including putting these cases in a larger context of trends and patterns of the Court and in its jurisprudence.

The Battle for Votes
Presenter, David Olson, RetroReport

Explore Retro Report’s library of 250+ short-form documentaries and the free classroom resources that accompany them. We will premiere the updated version of our film "The Battle for Votes: Gerrymandering" and accompanying free lesson plans, along with several other films regarding voting rights. Through interviews, archival video, and photos, the Retro Report filmmakers craft captivating stories that explore the hidden histories of yesterday and connect them to our world today. This interactive session focuses on having educators engage with Retro Report materials for History and Civics classes.

Using We the People in the Classroom
Presenters: Andrew Trenkle & Students, Maine South High School

This session will highlight how to structure a course using the We the People curriculum. Students will demonstrate the format of a simulated Congressional hearing used in the course.

"You're Entitled to Your Own Opinion But Not Your Own Facts"
Presenter: Lindsey Draper, Attorney

The frequently cited quote "You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts" is nowhere near the certainty it once was. In a climate in which discussion of some historical occurrences has become controversial and is, at times, seen as unpatriotic, one question is "how does a teacher incorporate information that extends beyond popularly-repeated statements and versions of history without running afoul of school or district norms?" Citing examples such as the controversy generated at the time of the release of Forget the Alamo in Texas and community reckoning brought about during commemoration of the centennial observance of the Tulsa (OK) riots, this session will examine approaches to uncomfortable - and at times neglected - conversations.


Our Impact

  • Student Participants


  • Teachers


  • Volunteers


CRFC in Chicago
Chicago Skyline
© 2024 Constitutional Democracy Project

Powered by Firespring