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Intro to the Department of Education: High School Lesson Plan

Use this lesson plan with your students to learn more about the role of the department of education through the #StartWithStudents survey.
Lesson Plan

Topic: #StartwithStudents--- How do big issues affect our lives at school?

Objectives: Students will understand the role of the department of education in federal policy, the importance of student voice in decision making and how major issues impact their lives at school.




  • What did this group of students recognize as an issue in their school community?
  • What did they do about this issue?
  • What are some issues that you wish were different in your school community?
  • How might you take steps to change this issue?
  • Create a list of students’ ideas about what they wish could change in schools.
  • In person: on a whiteboard or piece of chart paper
  • Online: use jamboard or a similar platform that allows students to post their ideas to a whole class “board”


Part 1

  • Use the powerpoint to go through how decisions are made about schools, and to get students thinking about how government decisions may affect them, and to understand how the US Department of Education may influence policy.

Part 2

  • Put students in pairs or small groups, and have each group explore one “right” in the Student Bill of Rights
  • Tell students to take 10-15 minutes to explore their assigned “right” and be prepared to share about the following:

1. What “right” did you explore? What does it mean?

2. Do you feel that students in our school have this right? Why or why not?

3. What would you change about your school community to give students this right? Or, what might other schools be missing that your school has that allows students to have this right?

4. What actions could the Federal government take to ensure that students across the country have this right?

Part 3

  • Have students share about the right they explored. Keep track of the ideas they have about what the Federal Government/Department of Ed could do to ensure students’ rights.
  • Now, invite students to think about the issues they talked about in the beginning of class, and the actions that the class came up with about what the US Department of Education could do to promote these rights.
  • Invite students to write about or discuss how the rights they explored may connect to solving the issues that they thought about in the beginning of class. Do some rights directly translate into issues that students are seeing in their own communities? Could making sure students have certain rights lead to positive change in school communities?

Wrap Up/Complete Survey

  • Invite students to share their ideas with those in charge by completing the #StartwithStudents survey
  • Or, send resources home with students so that the survey can be completed with a parent or guardian.

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