Facilitating Productive Discourse in the Era of Elections and Divisive Issues 

Apr 19, 2024 9:00AM—3:00PM



Cost Early Bird Pricing for Members (available until March 29) $475 members; $425 group-rate; $750 non-members

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Independent school teacher facilitating productive discourse with and students.


When crises and polarizing political issues emerge in our world, teachers are often expected to facilitate dialogue with their students about complex, controversial topics. This program is designed to give all educators tools to create an inclusive classroom that fosters thoughtful, deliberative dialogue around the pressing cultural and political issues facing our world, with a focus on the coming U.S. elections. Educators are encouraged to attend in teams to help create a more cohesive school-wide approach for engaging in conversations around contested issues.

Participants will explore strategies for navigating controversial election topics; learn practical techniques to establish norms that foster empathy and civil dialogue; apply a values framework to multiple policy issues to engage in productive discourse; explore best practices and models for student deliberations; and develop the skills to lead students in a critical analysis of election media coverage. 

Participants will also:

  • Examine a set of scenarios and solutions for when discourse breaks down 
  • Compare three models of classroom discourse (discussion, debate, and deliberation) 
  • Learn an approach to media literacy which develops students’ ability to evaluate biases in sources
  • Practice techniques for engaging students in deliberative discourse
  • Receive a set of resources and materials to guide controversial issue discussions


Close Up strategies and approaches can be applied across all school divisions; however, resources and materials are designed specifically for middle and high school classrooms.


Close Up is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization that informs, inspires, and empowers young people to become active citizens. Since 1971, we have partnered with school districts nationwide to serve more than one million students and educators through experiential learning programs, professional development, and curriculum design and consulting. Through our National Network of Schools in Partnership (NNSP) division, we design, plan, and implement civic and community engagement programming to connect what students learn in class to the real world around them.

Do you work at an independent school outside of California? Click here for a discount on our non-member registration!


Sante Mastriana

Sante Mastriana is the Professional Development Manager for the Close Up Foundation and holds a Master’s in Education from Hunter College. Sante originally joined Close Up as a Program Instructor after working for several years as a classroom teacher in a Title 1 school in the Bronx, NY. Sante has conducted professional development at schools and conferences in over a dozen different states and brings his experiences as a classroom teacher and a Close Up instructor to the forefront in designing sessions. Sante’s primary goal in providing professional development is that every participant complete the session equipped with knowledge and materials that can be implemented immediately in real-world settings.

Cancellation Policy

Life happens. We understand that there will be times when you cannot attend a workshop that you have registered and paid for. We strive to be as helpful and flexible as possible when things out of your control happen. Please visit our FAQ page for detailed information about our cancellation policy and answers to frequently asked questions about enrollment and membership.