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FAQs

What is The Exchange?
The Exchange is a constitutional learning activity that encourages young people to listen to and talk with their peers about current constitutional issues. The Exchange is both a nationwide video conference and a classroom deliberation activity. Democratic deliberation encourages students to be engaged citizens by showing them how to “do” democracy.

What is democratic deliberation?
In a democratic deliberation citizens actively participate in problem solving and public decision making on important issues that impact their communities, state and nation.

Citizens come together to weigh the facts and values from multiple points of view by listening to one another in order to think critically about various points of view and consider the conflicts and tough choices inherent in controversial issues.

Citizens come to understand, though not necessarily agree with, the points of view of others, so that at the end of a democratic deliberation they come to a consensus on how to move forward on critical issues, which serves as a blueprint for “forming a more perfect Union.”

What is the Town Hall Wall method?
The National Constitution Center has pioneered a new method for conducting democratic deliberations in the classroom. The Town Hall Wall lesson-plan poster, which frames the issue, provides a lesson-plan as well as the resources you need to facilitate a four-step deliberation.

  • Step One: Opening
    Students use sticky notes placed on the Town Hall Wall to respond to a constitutional question after reading a short background article that frames the issue. Beginning with a simple “Yes or No” question your students will engage in a conversation about the Constitution’s impact on current issues.
  • Step Two: Values
    Your students learn what the Constitution, politicians and jurists say about the issues. They will also distill the values within the Constitution in order to make thoughtful and better informed decisions on how to address the issues.
  • Step Three: Points of View
    Students are exposed to different points of view and the potential consequences of each point of view. Then they will be asked to determine which point or points of view they agree with or decide on their own point of view.
  • Step Four: Deliberation
    Using the values each point of view has in common, students deliberate the reasons for and against each perspective and negotiate a compromise statement. The one- to three-paragraph compromise statement includes the shared values, as well as evidence that support your students’ collective decision on how to address the constitutional issue.