Working with the Core Democratic Values and other social studies concepts is important at every grade level, especially as students enter middle school and need to be able to think critically about our constitutional rights. The Michigan EPIC web site has created some interactive, and engaging, activities to help students grasp the concept of the Core Democratic Values and how they apply to our everyday lives. In particular is “You be the Judge”, an interactive flash story that allows the reader to make choices, which in turn affect how the story unfolds. As students read about a small school and their fight to keep local property owners from cutting down a cherished tree near the school grounds, they are asked to apply their knowledge of constitutional rights to help decide what actions the school should take. Depending on their choices, the story unfolds in a number of different paths, with a number of different outcomes.
Unfortunately for me, I made a few poor decisions and overstepped my freedom of speech by encroaching on the land owners rights and property. The tree is question was cut down and I was asked to start again at the beginning of the story to try again. Perhaps you students will fair better. You can view the story here, or download a copy to view offline.