Professional Development

Close Up empowers educators nationwide to facilitate meaningful conversations with students in any classroom setting.

Teacher helps student with work on computer Shadow

Why choose Close Up for professional development?

“Close Up’s PD provided great ideas about how to address specific issues or scenarios that may arise and some of the nuances. This was an AWESOME professional development.” –Teacher, Philadelphia Public Schools

As instructional experts with over 50 years of experience in nonpartisan, issue-centered education, Close Up offers professional development trainings, both online and on-site, that provide middle school and high school educators with the strategies and resources needed to engage students in meaningful discourse about current controversial issues.

Close Up's Professional Development Sessions


We provide interactive trainings for teachers, schools, and districts.

Our innovative PD sessions are relevant, impactful, and informed by Close Up’s decades of expertise, helping teachers navigate challenging conversations about social and political issues. Each PD includes ready-to-use lesson plans, activities, and digital resources designed to promote thoughtful discourse, critical thinking, and engagement with multiple perspectives on issues. All sessions below can be adapted to school curricula and grade levels.


Tutorial on Close Up’s Current Issues Resources

This tutorial gives teachers direct instruction for using Close Up’s Current Issues resources and civic readiness curriculum. In this session, you will:

  • Walk through a sample of one of the dozens of Current Issues topics and learn the best ways to engage students in respectful discourse that incorporates multiple perspectives.
  • Examine a sequence of lesson plans to ready your classroom for discussing complex current issues.
  • Explore multimedia content (including videos from policymakers, podcasts, and recorded seminars) and learn about national online student deliberations available for your classroom.

Navigating Challenging Conversations at School

This training is designed to help teachers and administrators across all disciplines frame and respond to discussions about complicated social and political issues. In this session, you will:

  • Learn practical techniques to establish norms that foster empathy and civil dialogue among students.
  • Apply a values framework to multiple policy issues to engage in productive discourse.
  • Develop the skills needed to lead students in a critical analysis of political media coverage.
  • Explore strategies for navigating controversial discussions with students.

Facilitating Productive Civil Discourse in Your Classroom

Teachers will gain practical tools and explore resources and strategies for taking a multipartisan approach to complicated issues such as criminal justice reform, immigration reform, climate change, and economic inequality. In this session, you will:

  • Learn a values framework for examining political disagreements.
  • Learn and model the key structural differences between discussion, debate, and deliberation.
  • Explore a set of scenarios on the topics of criminal justice, COVID-19, and protest, and learn actionable techniques to keep students on track when discourse breaks down.

Media Literacy and Citizenship

Teachers will examine the concepts of media literacy and participate in activities that help students engage with a wide range of media sources, read critically, apply media literacy concepts to social and digital media, and identify efforts to mislead. In this session, you will:

  • Examine the role that media plays in our interpretation of historical events.
  • Model lessons that provide real-world applications of the eight major media literacy concepts.
  • Learn to use readily available online tools to enhance media literacy skills in class.

Community-Engaged Classrooms

Using a proven framework for action from Close Up’s Impact programs, teachers will learn to foster students’ civic and political efficacy and help them take real-world action on issues they care about. In this session, you will:

  • Examine a series of youth-led initiatives to learn how community projects enhance learning.
  • Use a community inventory to help students develop responsive community engagement projects.

30-Minute On-Demand Workshops

Our short, on-demand sessions are ideal for individual educators looking for self-paced training and PD recertification.