identify issues and conduct research

Unit 2: Amplifying Our Voices (Step 2) - Identifying Issues and Conducting Research

At Mikva Challenge, we believe a first step to being an active and engaged citizen is to be able to speak out on an issue that matters to you and to compel others to care about that issue.

For this reason, we begin the issue identification part of the Issues to Action process with Project Soapbox, our series of public speaking lessons in which students individually identify an issue that matters to them and deliver a two-minute speech. (Educators may also implement Project Soapbox as a standalone, not as part of Issues to Action.) Issues from Project Soapbox create the foundation for identifying an issue for the class to address together. The key to selecting a good issue for the class to work on is to have students identify one that they both care about and can realistically tackle.

This unit is written for students to give speeches BEFORE they have conducted in-depth research on the topic. If you prefer, you can flip that by integrating components of the next unit, Conducting Research, into this unit so that the student speeches are more deeply informed by research.

While we want students to support their issue priorities with relevant evidence, the primary purposes of the speeches are to communicate an issue they care passionately about and to call their community to action. This unit provides a great opportunity to develop your students’ interpersonal communication, active listening, and empathy skills--all of which will repeatedly be utilized throughout the Issues to Action process (and their academic and personal lives!).

Your class's "exit ticket" for this unit is to have agreed upon one issue that the whole group can support. Without consensus, you may experience problems maintaining motivation further into the process. You can choose more than one issue to work on but we encourage you to consider the power of collective action and work to get students addressing a shared issue collectively.