Teaching Guide:

for grades 7-12
This material is from the teaching guide for the video "Citizenship" in the series
"In Search of Character" produced in association with CHARACTER COUNTS!

Are You a Good Citizen?
(Take this self-evaluation and decide for yourself.)

True False  
I take responsibility for what goes on in my community.
I do my part for the common good.
I participate in community service.
I help take care of the environment.
I obey the law.
I think I am/am not a responsible person because: ___________________

Remember, citizenship is social responsibility in action!

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"Citizenship" - The Video
Citizenship, at its core, is social responsibility in action. This program considers what it means to be a good citizen.  Learn more . . .

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"In Search of Character"
"In Search of Character"
The Series
This award winning video series spotlights ten core virtues that help teens develop into caring, respectful, responsible people who make choices based on what's right, rather than what they can get away with.
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For more information about individual videos in this series, click on the title below.

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If you are using the video, ask questions 1 & 2 before viewing.

1. Agree or disagree: I don't have any responsibility to my school, my community, my nation, or anything else. My only responsibilities are to myself.

2. What is social responsibility? What does it have to do with being a good citizen?

3. Dr. Mike started out with an anecdote about his niece's classmates choosing the school janitor to be their graduation speaker. What were their reasons for selecting him? Do you think those were good reasons? Why, or why not?

4. Some of the kids in the video suggested that helping needy people is an important part of being a good citizen. Do you agree?

5. The people in the video identified several aspects of citizenship. What were they? Do you agree with them? Can you think of any others?

6. Do you think you are a good citizen? Why, or why not?

7. What are the benefits of being a citizen of a country? What are the civic responsibilities that go along with citizenship? What will happen to our rights and privileges if we don't meet those responsibilities?

8. Is it important for citizens to voice their opinions and participate in the decision making process? Why, or why not?

9. Agree or disagree: Rosa Parks was guilty of poor citizenship when she refused to sit in the back of the bus because she violated the law.

Under what circumstances can civil disobedience be justified? (You might think about the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.)

10. What does good citizenship have to do with the Golden Rule? What does it have to do with good character?

11. What are the benefits of good citizenship? How do you benefit from the good citizenship of others?

12. How did David Levitt's story make you feel? What did you learn from it? What were some of the problems he encountered and how did he solve them? What attitudes helped him succeed? Is it realistic to think the average teenager could make such an impact, or is David just a special case?

13. Preparation for a Jewish bar mitzvah usually involves doing something of service to the community. Should something like this be required for high school graduation?

14. What are some of the things in your community that need improving? What could you do about it?

15. Some of the kids in the video talked about the good feeling they get from helping others who are in need. Have you ever had a similar experience?

16. Did the video present any ideas you disagree with?

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To find elementary and middle school teaching guides on Citizenship and related topics,
click here.


1. Identify a good citizen in your community. Write an essay describing why he or she deserves that title.

2. Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper about a problem in the community that needs to be addressed. Lay out a plan for rectifying the problem.

3. From a newspaper, magazine, TV show, or movie, identify an act of poor citizenship displayed by an adult who should know better. Write a letter of criticism to this person with the intention of trying to convince him or her to shape up. Provide specific ways in which this person can improve his/her behavior.

4. Write a speech describing the essential balance of rights and responsibilities in our democracy. Try to convince your fellow classmates that in a democracy the preservation of our rights depends on our exercise of responsibility.

5. In ancient Greece, people felt that it was important for all people to try to leave Athens better than they found it. Write an essay in which you apply this principle to your own community.

6. Think of some kind of volunteer work you might like to do. Describe it and tell why you think you would like it. If you have done volunteer work in the past describe what it was like and what you got out of it.

(If you wish to copy or use any material from this website, please click here for Terms of Use.)

Other teaching guides in this series:

  •  Trustworthiness
•  Respect
•  Responsibility
•  Fairness
•  Caring
•  Citizenship
•  Honesty
•  Courage
•  Diligence
•  Integrity


1. Have your students visit this web-site <www.goodcharacter.com> and click on "Opportunities for Action." There they will find opportunities to become involved in community service projects and other activities relating to citizenship and civic responsibility.

2. Divide the class into small groups. Have each group develop a list of do's and don'ts for good citizenship. (See our checklist at the top of this column or on page 5 of the discussion guide.) Have them make oral reports to the class addressing the following questions: What happens when people live in accordance with these guidelines. What happens when they don't? In what ways does apathy or failure to act as good citizens affect our community and society? How can young people demonstrate civic responsibility?

3. Identify some individuals or organizations who are making a positive difference in your community. Work in groups to interview these people and then give class reports on how they got started, why they do what they do, how they have accomplished what they have.

4. Service Project: Have the class (as a whole, or in groups) evaluate real needs in the school or community and plan a service project to meet those needs. Then, implement the plan and document its activities. (For suggestions and help with planning a service project go to "Great Web Resources for Teachers" on this website, where you will find several service learning resources listed.)

5. Have a brainstorming session about ways to improve your school. Then, develop a comprehensive plan for carrying out these changes. Be sure this plan considers the students, teachers, administrators, and everyone else who has a stake in the school.

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Are you an athletic coach or recreation director? Would you like some ideas to help you develop the virtue of caring in your athletes? Then click here for Citizenship & Sports.


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