Tag Archives: iCivics

iCivics Drafting Board

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.

iCivicsDraftingBoard

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.

iCivics Update

image from: icivics.org

I have posted about iCivics.org a couple of times on my blog- once about the website, spearheaded by Sandra Day O’Connor, and once about the awesome free app, Pocket Law Firm.  As today is Election Day, I thought it would be appropriate to once again mention the value of iCivics.org.  According to the site, “In 2009, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics to reverse Americans’ declining civic knowledge and participation. Securing our democracy, she realized, requires teaching the next generation to understand and respect our system of governance.”  Since my first post on this topic, over a year ago, iCivics has gained even more features.  It has become a robust resource with 16 games, 15 curriculum units, and a multitude of service projects.  Now, teachers can create their own accounts to which they can add classes, allowing them to track assignments and student progress.  Students can earn points for playing games, and “spend” their points on community projects that they favor.

Although the curriculum units are geared toward students in grades 6-12, some of the games, like “Cast Your Vote“, could probably be played by advanced 4th or 5th graders.

And, if you are a U.S. citizen, don’t forget to cast your own vote today! 😉

Pocket Law Firm

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.

iCivics

Do you have a student who likes to argue?  Maybe one who aspires to be a lawyer one day?  Introduce him or her to this website, which is “designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy.”  With a woman like Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spearheading this effort to educate our children about citizenship, this site is not only a great addition to the curriculum, but an inspiration to students to become more involved in their communities.  You can try the games, like Argument Wars, or register for free and receive all of the benefits.