Talks and Professional Development

Hess and McAvoy teaching at Central High School in Louisville, KY


Please contact us if you are interested in inviting Diana and Paula to give a talk about the book. Recent presentations:

  • Workshop for the John Dewey Society, April 2016.
  • National Law-Related Education Conference in Philadelphia, sponsored by the American Bar Association, keynote address, October 30, 2015.
  • Harvard University, Distinguished Speaker Series, Gutman Library, September 25, 2015.
  • UW-Madison, Center for Ethics and Education, public lecture, March 23, 2015.
  • Illinois Civic Mission Coalition Convening, keynote address, March 13, 2015.
  • DePaul University, public lecture, February 18, 2015.
  • Keynote and professional development workshops. Invited by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anslem College. December, 2014.

Professional Development

We have developed workshops for teachers who would like to learn more about how to effectively lead discussions of controversial political issues in their classrooms. Paula is available to lead 1-2 day workshops. Please contact her to discuss availability (


  1. Structured Academic Controversies
  2. Socratic Seminar
  3. Interpreting data
  4. Framing questions for discussion
  5. Discussion activities that get students talking

Topic covered:

  1. Political polarization and the American political context
  2. Economic inequality
  3. Political ideology
  4. The ethical challenges that teachers face when they decide to bring politics into the classroom


I cannot speak highly enough about the workshop that Paula led our teachers through on integrating controversy and discussion into the classroom. Her background as a classroom teacher allowed her to really connect with our teachers and provide concrete ideas and strategies for building a classroom culture of discussion and deliberation on controversy. The sessions were a good mix of both theory and practice. Paula convincingly made the argument that this work is not only critical for a more vibrant learning environment but for preparing our students to participate in our Democracy.

-Jessica Marshall Civic Engagement and Service Learning, Manager Chicago Public Schools

Dr. McAvoy modeled the respectful, inclusive and deliberate judgment we know great teachers to have. She walked the talk. Without a trace of the snarky sarcasm so commonplace today, McAvoy guided teachers through theory, research and hands-on strategies. They practiced discussion and deliberation as they considered what it means to have a political classroom. We know that the ideal citizen is a balance of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. McAvoy’s professional development infused elements of all three and, as a result, teachers left renewed and enthused.

This business of educating the next generation to be informed citizens is complicated, sometimes messy, and not easy. But, with Dr. McAvoy, we are in good hands. Her professional development, like her book, recognizes the realities of the environment in which we live and gives us tools to teach effectively in them. McAvoy understands our collective responsibility to prepare students – teachers and youth alike – for political engagement. To be a recipient of her expertise is both a privilege and joy.

-Barbara Rost Classroom Law Project, Program Director, 2015

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