Eagle Eye Citizen saves the world
Okay. Saves the world may be a bit optimistic.
But Eagle Eye Citizen does give teachers a great tool for supporting critical thinking, civil discourse, and civic engagement. Yesterday, I posted part of an essay by Nancy Gibb. She spoke about how we can get caught up in the “bias against the positive” instead of finding ways to instead focus on the “expansive, embracing, oxygenated opportunity of optimism.” She urged us to show students what does work well, how democracy works well.
I liked it.
It was a great reminder about how important social studies teachers truly are. And so while Eagle Eye Citizen probably won’t save the world by itself, it certainly should be one of the tools in your toolbelt.
And what’s Eagle Eye Citizen?
It’s a free resource designed to engage middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges on American history, civics, and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop students’ civic understanding and historical thinking skills. There are lots of ways to integrate Eagle Eye Citizen into your instruction – from helpful videos to lesson planning ideas and tips on differentiation.
Part of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project, Eagle Eye Citizen was developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.
The site has three basic parts:
Your kids go to the Solve section to access a variety of challenges that require them to use historical thinking skills. There are three basic types of challenges:
For each type, students have access to hundreds of different activities that focus on a specific skill and specific historical content. The activities are short, easy to use, and support the kinds of thinking that engaged, informed, and knowledgeable citizens need to have. And they focus on civics and civic understanding.
At the end of each challenge, students are asked to respond to questions and reflect on their thinking.
The cool thing is that Eagle Eye Citizen is not just about consuming information. Students can also use the tool to create their own challenges. This seems like an incredibly powerful teaching and learning tool. Teachers can also create their own challenges specific to grade level and content that they can share with students.
As an instructor, you have access to a ton of resources. You can create your own challenges but you also get lesson plans, assessments, differentiation suggestions, a list of resources, and a nice section titled “In a Pinch.”
But you’re also able to create your own account that allows you to make digital classrooms and follow the work of your students. It’s a great way to go paperless while still making it easy for you to track and view student work. You do all of this in your Teacher Dashboard.
I’ll be curious to hear how the site’s attempt at gamification goes with students. I love the idea. As kids complete tasks, they earn points, badges, and levels. The levels range from Member of Congress to Master Legislator. And I would love to hear from anyone who’s been playing with this and how kids are responding.
I get it. A site like Eagle Eye Citizen is not going to save the world. But I am convinced that social studies teachers will. And using free, online, focused tools like Eagle Eye Citizen can help.