We all love iCivics. And why not? Tons of useful tools. Simulations. Games. Lots of teaching materials. Oh, yeah. And it’s all free.
If you’re not super familiar with iCivics, it’s good to know why it exists.
“iCivics exists to engage students in meaningful civic learning. We provide teachers with well-written, inventive, and free resources that enhance their practice and inspire their classrooms.”
Simple. Accurate. But not very specific. So what does iCivics have that can help you this spring and next fall? Here are just a few of my favorite tools designed specifically to help with teaching the upcoming election.
In less than a year, all eyes will be on the Capitol steps for the next Presidential Inauguration. It’s going to be a busy year on the political front, and in your classroom. You can help your students become more knowledgeable about the U.S. election system with two of iCivics’ most popular games:
- Win the White House
- Cast Your Vote
I got the chance over the last few days to spend time with tons of social studies gurus and learn tons of new stuff at the National Council for History Education conference in Washington DC. Thanks to Dr. Richard Satchwell and Judy Bee at Illinois State University and all the folks at the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project for making the trip possible.
Part of our TPS time together was spent with developers of the five Library of Congress interactive civic education apps they’ve created. Very cool stuff that you can find at the LOC. All five are super handy for helping kids make sense of primary sources and for training students to engage as informed citizens. It was great sitting with the developers and learning more about how to use the apps with kids.
But I am just as excited about something , Chief Education Officer at iCivics, threw out at the end of her formal presentation about their DBQuest app:
We’re releasing a new iCivics game tomorrow called Race to Ratify.
She couldn’t really share a ton about it but we got the chance to get a quick taste of the game. And when she said “tomorrow,” she meant last Friday. So it’s been officially out in the wild for a few days. I’ve played with it a bit since then and it’s pretty much like all iCivics content.
Awesome. Read more
If you love Kahoot – and who doesn’t – you’re gonna love Game On.
The idea is simple. Start a game. Students browse to gameon.world on any smart device. Share a pin number with your students. Start the game. Project questions and images onto a screen. Students view questions on screen. They answer the questions on their device. Students see the results on the large screen.
And here’s the cool part. While there are a variety of topics, you can choose to focus on geography and history facts. Read more
It seems like I have a new favorite of some kind pretty much every week. And so, yes, today I have a new favorite game. I found it at the MidAmerica Nazarene Center for Games & Learning – the CGL is hosting their first conference today and I had the chance to do a couple of cool things as a part of the event.
One of the things I got to do today was to deliver the opening keynote. We had a great time having a conversation about how play and board games can be an important part of instruction and learning. I also had the opportunity to participate in a couple of breakout sessions.
The first session was hosted by Assistant Professor of History Elizabeth Horner. Elizabeth was one of the bleeding edge practitioners on the MNU campus who volunteered to integrate game-based learning – specifically the use of tabletop games – into her spring 2015 semester.
She led a conversation this morning focused on her experience using tabletop games to teach world and US history. She suggested that there are three ways to use games in classroom: Read more
It often seems as if K-12 education is nothing but buzz words. Problem-based learning. SAMR. Close reading. College and Career. Flipped classroom. Disruptive technology. BYOD. Data driven. MOOC.
We’re good at that stuff.
Administrators read a book or attend a conference and next thing you know . . . a new program or initiative with a hour of “training” at the next staff meeting. Sometimes there’s so many buzzwords flying around, it’s just easier sometimes to ignore all of them. I get that. As schools, we’re great on jumping on the latest trend and not always following through in the long term.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all buzzwords are bad. I think most admin types, and all of you trend following classroom folks as well, do it for a reason. You all want the best for your kids, you’re all looking for what works, for ideas and strategies that might make a difference.
So I think it’s okay to throw out another one. Read more