Democracy in Action in Elementary School

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Children hands together, square

Do you want to help children grow up to be ready to participate in a democratic society? If so, this online professional development experience is for you!

To be clear, this isn’t about teaching civics to children. You won’t learn how to set up the branches of government or vote for a class president in this course. This isn’t about how to teach a unit on American government. Instead, you’ll learn how to infuse the principles of a democracy into everyday teaching and learning. This is about helping children experience what it feels like to be in a democratic community so that they can practice the mindsets and acquire the ideals needed to be active citizens as they grow up. As an added bonus, these strategies will also help you create the kind of learning community where children can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally through all areas of the curriculum.

This course is organized around five key democratic principles–ones that are fundamental to a democratic society as well as a vibrant elementary school learning experience:

  • Belonging: People must know that they are a valued member of a society. It is through feeling accepted as a part of a group that one feels responsibility to that group.
  • Voice: People must feel a sense of agency. They must feel empowered to share their views and have a hand in shaping the community in which they live.
  • Equity: All people must have access to resources and opportunities so they can reach for their dreams.
  • Responsibility: With group membership, power, and access also comes responsibility to the group. People must balance their own needs with the greater good.
  • Civil Discourse: People need the skills to communicate effectively, to share their opinions, listen to others, and come to reasoned decisions for the good of all.

You should also know, before you go any further, that this isn’t a course with quizzes, tests, required writing assignments, or other accountability measures. This course is about learning for the sake of supporting our students and helping them grow into responsible and engaged members of their communities. There is a lot packed into this course, so you’ll likely want to spend more time on some elements and less on others. It will probably take about 3-6 hours to complete.

* If you are a school/district leader and are interested in learning more about this course or are interested in discussing a group discount, email Mike Anderson at

Course Features

  • Lectures 43
  • Quizzes 0
  • Skill level All levels
  • Language English
  • Students 27
  • Certificate Yes
  • Assessments Yes
  • Introduction 0/5

  • Belonging 0/8

    • Lesson2.1
      The Social Contract is Founded on Inclusion
    • Lesson2.2
      The Power of Names
    • Lesson2.3
      Knowing Your Students
    • Lesson2.4
      Group Students with Inclusion in Mind
    • Lesson2.5
      Games and Activities that Build Connections
    • Lesson2.6
      More Inclusive Celebrations
    • Lesson2.7
      Language that Emphasizes Collaboration Instead of Competition
    • Lesson2.8
      Key Take-Aways
  • Equity 0/6

    • Lesson3.1
      Equity Introduction
    • Lesson3.2
      What’s the Difference Between Equity and Equality?
    • Lesson3.3
      Inequities Hidden in Plain Sight
    • Lesson3.4
      What is Unconscious Bias?
    • Lesson3.5
      Planning for Diverse Learners: An Introduction to UDL
    • Lesson3.6
  • Voice 0/7

    • Lesson4.1
      Elevating Student Voice
    • Lesson4.2
      Co-Create Routines with Students
    • Lesson4.3
      Student Choice: From Simple to Complex
    • Lesson4.4
      Student Choice: A Brief Overview
    • Lesson4.5
      Student Choice: Key Benefits
    • Lesson4.6
      Language that Emphasizes Student Ownership
    • Lesson4.7
  • Responsibility 0/9

    • Lesson5.1
      With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
    • Lesson5.2
      Co-Create Rules with Students: Why
    • Lesson5.3
      Co-Create Rules with Students: How
    • Lesson5.4
      A Constitutional Convention
    • Lesson5.5
      Consequences that Are Fair
    • Lesson5.6
      Natural and Logical Consequences
    • Lesson5.7
      Getting Consistent with Consequences
    • Lesson5.8
      Language that Elevates Moral Thinking
    • Lesson5.9
      From Responsibility to Action
  • Civil Discourse 0/7

    • Lesson6.1
      A Democracy Relies of Civil Discourse
    • Lesson6.2
      Teach Skills of Communication: What to Teach
    • Lesson6.3
      Teach Skills of Communication: Eliciting Ideas from Students
    • Lesson6.4
      Teach Skills of Communication: Effective Modeling
    • Lesson6.5
      Class Meeting–From Discourse to Action (An Introduction)
    • Lesson6.6
      Language that Models Respect
    • Lesson6.7
      Civil Discourse Conclusion
  • Final Take-Aways 0/1

    • Lesson7.1
      What Are You Going to Try?
Mike Anderson has been an educator for more than 25 years. A public school teacher for 15 years, he has also taught preschool, coached swim teams, and taught university graduate level classes. He now works as a consultant providing professional learning for teachers throughout the US and beyond. In 2004, Mike was awarded a national Milken Educator Award, and in 2005 he was a finalist for NH Teacher of the Year. In 2020, he was awarded the Outstanding Educational Leader Award by NHASCD for his work as a consultant. A best-selling author, Mike has written eight books about great teaching and learning. When not working, Mike can be found hanging with his family, tending his perennial gardens, and searching for new running routes around his home in Durham, NH.


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