Professional Development

Empowering 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?

“I now have new ideas on how to approach controversial topics and how to do it via Zoom for online learning!” –Teacher, Katy, TX

As experts in both virtual and in-class instruction with almost 50 years of experience in nonpartisan, issue-centered education, Close Up offers professional development trainings and resources for teachers, both online and on-site, that provide middle 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 on the basis of school curricula and grade levels.


Tutorial on Close Up’s Current Issues Resources

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

  • Walk through a sample of one of over 30 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 create a classroom ready to discuss 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 amongst 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 multi-partisan 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 in the classroom.  
  • Model and learn the key structural differences between discussion, debate, and deliberation.  
  • Explore a set of scenarios on the topics of criminal justice, COVID-19, and protests, 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.
  • Participate in 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 and Empowering Girls’ Voices 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.
  • Learn how to help students plan successful community engagement projects.

30-Minute On-Demand Workshops

For individual educators looking for self-paced training and PD recertification, we also offer 30-minute, on-demand sessions.


  • Sign up for Close Up Conversations, our free, live webinars focused on today's current issues!