With Constitution Day approaching in the United States on September 17th, I thought I would share “Do I Have a Right?” from iCivics. It is free, and you can play it on your web browser or using the iPad app. The game helps you to learn the rights you are given by the constitution as you assign cases to lawyers based on their specialties. There is now a Powerpoint extension pack that teachers can use to reinforce what the students learn after they play the game. The game is really engaging (my daughter and I love to play it together), and only one of many fabulous resources brought to you by iCivics. If you haven’t used iCivics before, here is a little more information from a previous post.
It’s been awhile since I’ve visited the iCivics site. You can see my last post about it here (2012!). The site, founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, offers interactives, games, and lesson plans for learning about civics. And it’s all free!
There is a lot of curriculum available on the site, and teachers can log in and add students to a class, giving them assignments that the teachers can then monitor. One of the tools that looks really great for 5th graders and up is the Drafting Board tool. This is a robust, thought-provoking interactive that leads students through steps that result in crafting a persuasive essay. I’ve embedded the iCivics introductory video to Drafting Board below. This PDF thoroughly explains how to use the tool.
There are several things that appeal to me about Drafting Board. It scaffolds the process of writing a persuasive essay based on evidence very well. The teacher has the capability of differentiating the assignment by choosing different “challenge levels” for students. Though there is a lot of reading involved, all of the passages have accompanying audio for students who need that support. These features make this a great UDL resource.
One of the lessons is about whether or not 16-year-olds should be given the right to vote – a topic that is frequently brought up by my students. (Actually, they think “all kids” should have the right to vote.) Another one that would tie in very well with my 5th grade unit on The Giver is the question of whether or not students should be required to do volunteer work in order to graduate.
Even if you don’t have access to 1-to-1 devices for your students, Drafting Board would be a valuable whole-class lesson, or even a center for groups of students, inviting an educated discourse about controversial topics.
Pocket Law Firm is an iDevice app that is free. It comes to us from Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics program, which has a wonderful website that I have featured on this site. Pocket Law Firm is a game designed to teach about the Constitution. In the game, the user is in charge of a law firm, and must “match” the clients to the lawyers who can best fight for their rights. By earning points, the user can hire more lawyers, and buy ads and furniture for the firm. As lawyers win trials, they develop more experience, and can help with additional constitutional rights.
If you have a student who is interested in the law, or wants to learn more about our Constitution, this simulation will satisfy his or her quest for knowledge.