Professional Development Offerings

Civic Spirit’s Professional Development workshops provide teachers with a framework for teaching civics.

We offer workshops on teaching with texts and dialogue around divisive topics as we feel these are the two key skills needed to create engaged citizens who can navigate the 21st century landscape. These workshops can be provided on their own, or combined into one session. We would also be happy to create a customized workshop for your school or work on individualized scope and sequencing that helps foster civic knowledge, skills and engagement in your school setting.

1. Reframing Divisive Topics through Dialogue

This workshop will explore a civic pedagogy, engaging in discourse across differences. This pedagogy is developed by Essential Partners and Civic Spirit staff have been trained in their method of fostering constructive dialogue around divisive topics. In this workshop we will explore the purpose of dialogue, create shared group agreements for dialogue, and use a protocol to facilitate having difficult conversations in the classroom. We will also explore using a looser method for classroom discussion, Socratic Seminars, in this session.

2. Using Primary Source Documents in the Classroom

This workshop will help teachers increase the democratic fluency of their students. The workshop will explore how to engage students in historical literacy. We will explore how to ask questions of historical documents and how to investigate the context behind historical documents. We will discuss how to modify documents for diverse learners and how to make historical documents relevant to today’s world.

Many topics can be explored using this method. Some suggested topics include:

  • How democratic was ancient Athens? Comparing Athenian and US democracy
  • The meaning of liberty and equality in the US Constitution, the founding and during the Civil War (Exploring the writings of Frederick Douglas and Thomas Jefferson)
  • Lincoln: Did he start out as an abolitionist or change over time?
  • Three visions for what it means to be a Black American: DuBois, Booker T. Washington and Garvey and their relevance today and to the Jewish community
  • Civil Rights Movement- Understanding MLK and Malcolm X

For more information, please contact Rabbi Charles Savenor, Executive Director, at or 917-209–2211.