Civically-Engaged Equity & Access Media Literacy

This I Believe

Learning About Political Values and Political Socialization

Overview and Context

This lesson is designed to help students learn about political values and political socialization through writing a “This I Believe” script.  This original lesson was created for 12th grade students in an American Government class, but can be adapted to different levels and contexts.  This lesson served as a capstone project for the end of the school year.

Learning Objectives

  1. Students will reflect on their political values and political socialization .
  2. Students will work on their writing and create a script in the form of a This I Believe paper to express their political values.
  3. Students will examine how their political values will change over the next ten years by submitting their papers to the FutureMe website which will email them their This I Believe paper in 2033.


  1. Students will write a paper demonstrating their political values in the form of a This I Know radio interview. Students will connect their own lived experiences and the process of political socialization to understand how they came to view politics and the world.
  2. Teachers should go over “The Original Invitation from This I Believe” with students so that students will understand how the idea was originally conceived. The class should then go over the This I Believe Essay Writing Guide to understand how their assignment will be graded.



  1. Computers with speakers
  2. Projector


  1. Colin Powell’s The America I Believe In (This I Believe document)
  2. Bernard Baruch’s Thought for Tomorrow (This I Believe document)
  3. Walter White’s All Or Nothing (This I Believe document)
  4. Will Thomas’s The Birthright of Human Dignity (This I Believe document)
  5. Peter Keane’s Everyone Deserves Defense (This I Believe document)
  6. Nora Lupi’s My Opinions Matter (This I Believe document)
  7. Rubric: This I Believe Essay Writing Guidelines


Political Socialization from The Citizen Genius Project


Step-by-Step Instructional Plan

1. Background Information and Introduction to This I Believe

It is helpful for students to have some background information on political socialization, and the teacher should preview the This I Believe website, listed documents above, and rubric.  Teacher will go over the “Original Invitation for This I Believe” with the class and discuss the purpose of the assignment and answer clarification questions.

2. Exploring This I Believe

Next, the teacher will  play the selected episodes of This I Believe. It is recommended that the teacher projects the words as the audio is playing to help students following along. After listening to the Colin Powell paper, students should write down their initial thoughts and reactions to the statement.  Give students time to look through the website on their own and read/listen to topics they find interesting.

3. Writing and Applying Ideas

Then the teacher will go over the rubric with the class and answer any questions. Students will write a rough draft of a This I Believe paper by focusing on a single statement. Once students have written their statements, have them share them with a partner or small group and provide feedback on each other’s statements.  Students will revise their statements based on feedback and continue working on their papers which should be finished as homework.

This post is part of the Civic Engagement and Civic Journalism collection.