Tweeting, Speaking, and Movie-Making: Civic Action Against Underage Drinking

Teacher(s): Rachel Haddad
Main Contact: Rachel Haddad Email:
Date: August 2012 Building: Kent ISD Grade Level: 9-12
First Trimester: __________ Second Trimester: __________ Third Trimester: __________
First Semester: ___________ Second Semester: __________

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Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

Through this project, high school youth in Social Studies/American Government will understand the relationship between civic action and public policy – that through participation in politics, citizens can influence and affect meaningful change for the betterment of their society.

Students will identify shortfalls in current policies, will tackle the public issue of underage alcohol consumption, will research historical and contemporary alcohol policy, and will seek to identify solutions to this issue through the social media platform, Twitter, through discourse with a public panel of experts. In these two public ‘mediums’, the community will engage the students on the subject of underage alcohol consumption.

Next, students will work in teams to write and develop new alcohol policy targeting youth. Two of the students’ policies will be chosen for further class development. A YouTube video will be created by the class to share and advocate on behalf of the new policies. This video will be disseminated within the school and shared with parents, ‘expert’ partners, and legislators. Reflection on both the Twitter activity and YouTube ‘hits’, in addition to the dialogue generated by the new policies, will serve as evidence of the student’s impact on their community.

*The project is extensive and is intended to occur over one or two semesters.

Big Question(s) to consider:
• How might youth AND policy work together to combat underage drinking, a national health crisis?
• What alternative policy(s) may assist in limiting underage alcohol consumption, and how might students advocate on behalf of the policy(s)?

Underage alcohol consumption is a national crisis. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days: 42% drank some amount of alcohol; 24% binge drank; 10% drove after drinking alcohol; 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.”

Essential Questions:
• How can citizens acquire information, solve problems, make decisions, and defend positions about public policy issues?
• How can citizens participate in civic life?
• How has the expanding role of the internet, as well as other mass media sources, affected the making of public policy and promoted the interaction between government and the public?
• What roles do political parties, interest groups, the media and individuals play in the development of public policy?
• What is the role of the public in fermenting change, and how might this change be accomplished?
• How might minors be held accountable for underage drinking, and what purpose might this serve?


Effective Practice: MEANINGFUL SERVICE

Service learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

What community need will you address and how did you determine the need?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention noted the following:

“Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem. Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.”

Underage consumption of alcohol is a recurring and serious problem across the USA. It is significant to Michigan, too, as minors in the state make choices affecting their health, their studies, road safety, and the safety of others. Participation in ‘Tweeting, Speaking, and Movie-Making: Civic Action Against Underage Drinking’ will allow students the opportunity to explore ineffective policies that have personal meaning to them. Students will determine the ‘need’ area – underage drinking – as this subject impacts their demographic in a consistent and substantial way. From there, students will explore solutions to the community issue of underage alcohol consumption. The need will be highlighted by community experts from the police station, the judicial system, the school community, MADD, the Center for Alcohol Policy, and potentially, from school alumni willing to share their experiences and ideas for prevention with the public.

Tweets (from Twitter), a public ‘expert’ panel, community newsletter/newspaper content, public awareness, new policy, and a film on new policy – various forms of civic action – will demonstrate to students their role in affecting policy and change.

What service will you provide to address the need?

Students will serve their communities by initiating and engaging in a Twitter activity on the subject of: ‘Underage Drinking: What is the solution to this issue? What new laws/policies/practices will help solve this crisis?’ Respond in 140 characters – be creative in HOW you communicate your responses. Tweeting, re-tweeting, and replies, from within the class and with the broader school community, will generate an online dialogue around this topic. Students will not only ‘speak’ with one another through mandatory tweets, re-tweets and replies, but will hear from parents, other students, teachers, and administrators on solutions to the problem. The activity is intended to be open for students only during its first 1-1.5 weeks. Thereafter, an educator leading the service-learning project may open the Twitter activity to the community through invitation in a school newspaper or newsletter, or other form of mass communication.

A public panel involving community ‘experts’ – school administrators, police, judge(s), staff from the Center for Alcohol Policy, MADD representatives, parents, and potentially from school alum, will further the discussion. Alcohol and its abuse by minors will take center stage in a student-run panel. The community will be invited to the panel and may participate in its Q & A session. A topic for the panel may be: Alcohol in our community: Who uses, who abuses? Why is alcohol a problem for young people? Why is it important to halt alcohol abuse in our community?

Writing new policy(s) around alcohol will seek to create change around underage drinking, road safety, and teen health. A film representing the policy will be shot by the students and shared on the web (via Youtube) advocating the new policy. As Youtube has an extensive viewership, the film may receive many ‘hits’, sharing ‘change’ with hundreds or thousands of citizens.


Effective Practice: LINK TO CURRICULUM

Service learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

How is this project related to your curriculum?

Social Studies: This project is directly related to Social Studies/American Government. Students will understand civic action and the ways one can influence a current public policy issue through engagement in this service-learning project. The notion of citizenship and the responsibilities of a citizen will be reinforced through this project, too.

English/ELA: Collaborative conversations with peers will build listening skills. The use of the technology platform, Twitter, will call upon students to truncate larger content to its most critical, succinct form. Twitter will also allow for creative writing to occur. An essay task will ask students to analyze the following prompt: “What is the role of a citizen in affecting change to public opinion and public policy?” in a coherent, persuasive essay. Students will be asked to facilitate and contribute to the public panel, thereby using their own public speaking skills. Students will write policy and will share and edit their work with their peers. Movie making in the final reflection task is a further source of English/ELA content as learners will use speaking, organization, and editing. The essay task will ask students to write coherent,

Technology: Students would generate 140-character Tweets. The opportunity to express views on alcohol in this creative, public format will utilize both technology and creative writing skills sets. After tweets, re-tweets, and replies are posted and interacted with (over the course of 1-2 weeks), school administrators, parents, and other community members may be informed of the activity and may interact with student’s posts, bringing a community and adult discourse into the class’ project.

What are the educational goals?

1. Students will analyze how policy impacts society (through analysis of primary sources, in Twitter, in essay task, in panel exercise, etc).
a. Essay prompt is: “What is the role of a citizen in affecting change to public opinion and public policy?”
2. Students will examine statistics regarding alcohol abuse in the state of Michigan and will use these numerical figures as the basis for a discussion of alcohol’s social and legal impacts for Michigan residents.
3. Students will express opinions and stances on alcohol/alcohol abuse and solutions to its abuse through the social networking platform, Twitter. The Twitter topic will be: ‘Underage Drinking: What is the solution to this issue? What new laws/policies/practices will help solve this crisis?’ Respond in 140 characters – be creative in HOW you communicate your responses.
4. Students will facilitate a dialogue on alcohol problems in their community through a public panel of experts and a Q and A; experts will share out information pertaining to underage alcohol abuse and possible solutions to the issue. The panel topic will be: Alcohol in our community: Who uses, who abuses? Why is alcohol a problem for young people? Why is it important to halt alcohol abuse in our community?
5. Students will share essays and Twitter posts with their peers, their school community, and their region, facilitating confidence, responsibility, and enhanced communication skills.
6. Students will reflect on the process of grassroots advocacy, expressing their views on how change is instigated and by whom. Students will consider civic responsibility and its value to the democratic process through the lens of their work in this project.


Curriculum Crafter Connections

Strand: AG: (Civics):
TLW identify current public policy issues and groups that have an interest in those issues to evaluate, take, and defend positions about the formation and implementation of these issues and examine ways in which to participate in the decision-making process. CCSS/CE(s): C3.5.8; C3.5.9; C6.1.1; C6.1.2; C6.1.3; C6.1.4; C6.1.5;C6.2.10; C6.2.11.

Strand: AG: (Civics):
TLW describe and analyze the actions of citizen groups to influence public opinion and public policy. CCSS/CE(s): C6.2.5; C6.2.6.

Strand: AG: (Civics):
TLW describe the roles of various groups in shaping public policy and their influence on citizen participation, and engage in meaningful projects to influence public policy.(Gist: Political Players and Civic Life)

Strand: 10ELA: (Writing, Speaking, and Expressing):
TLW research a national or global issue to determine historical, political, and/or cultural context and evaluate according to a personal standard for ethics, truthfulness, and/or responsibility. (Gist: National – Global Issues)

Additional State Standards and Benchmarks
List standards and benchmarks met by this project.

Strand: 11-12 ELA: (Speaking and Listening):
TLW build comprehension through collaborative conversations about grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues. (Gist: Comprehension and Collaboration)

Strand: 11ELA: (Literature and Culture):
TLW read informational texts including speeches, essays, and other primary sources to determine author’s purpose, message, audience, and significance to contemporary society. (Gist: Authors Purpose)


Effective Practice: REFLECTION

Service learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

What form(s) of reflection will you use with the students to help them identify what they have learned and accomplished?

1. Response writing (to a MADD testimonial? a newspaper article? statistics?);
2. Peer-reviewing essays written re: public opinion and policy;
3. Reflective gallery walk of policy options – students will identify two policies to collectively edit and showcase in a video clip;
4. Reflection after film is complete and on Youtube for a proper duration – use either podcast OR journal reflection to address the process of the project.


Effective Practice: DIVERSITY

Service learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

What types of diverse perspectives and experiences will be explored as part of your project?

(I.e.: cultural, generational, abilities/disabilities, learning styles, etc)

The service-learning project will promote an understanding of alcohol abuse. In particular, it will discuss who uses and why they use, and will seek to identify solutions to teen access and abuse. The generational aspect of this project is key – the focus is on teens of all races and all backgrounds. We want students to understand that culture plays a role in determining the acceptability of alcohol abuse; creating a culture of ‘No’ is imperative to healthy, drug-free living.

Through the project students will use various learning styles including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Students will see/read ideas and content and will write. They will speak and listen around the panel and in the selection of two new policies. Creation of a YouTube video will use kinesthetic, collaborative skills to act, edit, and support a new alcohol policy(s) in MI.


Effective Practice: YOUTH VOICE

Service learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning experiences with guidance from adults.

How will students gain ownership of the project?

Students will gain ownership of the project through an initial discovery of ineffective laws. Dialoguing and listing ineffective laws may be narrowed to those laws directly linked to (and broken by) the lives of students. Certainly, alcohol will make the list.

Next, students will have the opportunity to express early ideas to combat underage drinking in the Twitter platform. Here, students will assert themselves in 140-characters. They will engage one another on Twitter. The writing and engagement with one’s peers will promote student voice and planning outside of the realm of adults. Only after students have worked in Twitter for a number of days will the platform be opened to the public.

The public ‘expert’ panel will be an additional opportunity for students to exercise planning. The project will give students access to powerful community players and will bring these individuals into direct contact with the students. In the panel students will be expected to engage their voices with those of the experts.

Writing policy will add further autonomy to the project. Students will be given an opportunity to assert their opinions and plans around reducing underage drinking. As the class will choose two of the student’s policies for Youtube ‘publication’, there will be an incentive to create an exemplary and cohesive policy. Students will be invested in their final products.

Finally, reflection on the process of grassroots advocacy will demonstrate to students their role in affecting change. They will know that planning, implementing, and advocating, irrespective of their age, is a vital part of the United States’ political structure, and is part of one’s civic responsibility.



Service learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

Who will you partner with for this project?

• The school’s student body
• Teachers, administrators, parents
• Kent County police
• Kent County judge(s)
• MI legislators
• Healthy Safe Drug-Free Schools and Communities Coalition
• Center for Alcohol Policy

How will students benefit from this partnership?

Students will benefit from a partnership with their student body as the teens are one of the target audiences the project will seek to address. While the aim is to create an alternative alcohol policy to further prevent underage alcohol consumption, it is equally important that community youth and adults are aware of the problem and are invested in its solution. Students will benefit from student-to-student Twitter feedback, participation in the public panel. Both mediums will allow other students to express their views on the problem and may add momentum to its change.

Partnering with teachers, administrators, and parents in the panel is valuable to this project as these individuals are the backbone of a community. Students look to these adult figures as a constant in their lives, to direct and guide them forward. Connecting these critical role models to policy change will promote a solution.

Partnering with local police and judge(s) and MADD will provide useful statistics and testimonials relevant to the expert panel. Police and judges and mothers will have knowledge of underage alcohol abuse and the ways it damages lives.

MI legislators are instrumental to the political process. A partnership with MI legislators will lend relevance and power to the service-learning project as these individuals assist in the creation, dispute, and advocacy of policy. Students will see politics as more than a word or a concept; the legislators make the political process more authentic.

The Center for Alcohol Policy will provide useful statistics and testimonials relevant to the public panel. Additionally, this community partner is invested in reducing alcohol consumption by teens.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

Teens in the school where the service-learning project is occurring will benefit from the partnership with their fellow students as alcohol awareness will be a front-and-center subject. The Twitter activity and panel will allow students an opportunity to dialogue and reflect on alcohol as a dangerous drug that must be better regulated and respected. The hope is that teenage drinking would be reduced through awareness created during the project.

Parents, teachers, and administrators would benefit from the partnership with the social studies class as these adults would see their youth advocating towards a healthier lifestyle. This would reflect positively on the school and in the homes of the students involved in the project. It may even bring a new awareness to adults regarding alcohol and its role in their community.

MADD and judges and local police would benefit from the project through an opportunity to share the dangers of alcohol abuse with teens. Through sharing, there may be a reduction in drunk driving incidents, arrests, and other forms of discipline and/or loss associated with alcohol and youth.

MI legislators would benefit from a partnership with this service-learning project and its class. The legislators stand to receive policy ideas directly from their constituents.



Service learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

How will you assess the student learning goals?

Student learning goals will be assessed through the Twitter task, an essay, the creation of alcohol policies, and the final reflective task. As these four ‘assessments’ occur at different stages during the project, each will provide insight into the learning process. An educator may choose to grade each of the four ‘assessments’. Alternatively, an educator may ask students to grade themselves at these intervals, using the ‘assessments’ as both evidence of learning and students’ perception of self-growth and understanding.

How will you assess your service goals?

Initially, service goals will be assessed through the public’s engagement with Twitter. Students will have a tangible community response to the issue of underage drinking and proposed responses to it. Second, service goals will be assessed through the expert panel. Participation in and audience size will serve as evidence of community engagement in students’ chosen policy issue. It will further demonstrate to students the power of the political process – that grassroots movements can gain momentum and initiate change. Finally, service goals will be assessed through the number of ‘hits’ on the policy video posted on Youtube. Here, students will again have a quantitative sum that demonstrates engagement in their service-learning project.



Service learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

This project is extensive. It is intended to occur over a length of one or two semesters.



The three arms of sustainability are environmental stewardship, economic growth, and social progress. Think planet, profit, and people.

Describe how your project addresses the issue of sustainability?

Through this project, students will seek to create real life policy. Not only will they engage in the political process, but they will also expand their concept of citizenship and social progress. If the project is successful, students will have facilitated a strong community discourse around the subject matter. Their final policy idea(s) will be posted on Youtube, which is its own version of sustainable as more and more users are becoming involved with the interface.