Happy New School Year! An 8th Grade Teacher's Take on Customizing iCivics for Your Class

July 31, 2014

As part of my curriculum in teaching 8th grade social studies, I am required to teach a quarter of government. I would often find myself struggling to make that quarter interesting and relatable to my students. The iCivics website changed everything in my classroom.  I felt comfortable using iCivics because iCivics lessons are aligned with state and Common Core standards.  You may think that yes, the iCivics website is just another tool for your tool belt, but the website is more than just a tool- it's an engaging experience.

Two years ago, I started using iCivics lessons as a way to supplement the various government standards that I was teaching. My students were definitely more focused and

excited to learning on the days that I incorporated an iCivics lesson.  After teaching my own material first, I followed up with an iCivics lesson and my students playing the corresponding iCivics game that supported what I was teaching. When my students started playing the games, they became different kids. Most didn’t want to leave my room to go to their next class! They were busy trying to beat previous high scores, win cases, run a law firm and more. Any time my students saw laptops in my room, they would immediately ask, “Are we doing iCivics today?”.

Using the lessons made my life so much easier. They are so detailed that I was able to customize the lessons to best fit my classroom needs. I also found that iCivics lessons would provide my students with additional information on many of the different topics we were covering. I began browsing the iCivics website to see what other lessons could fit into other topics I already teach. When I was not teaching government this year, I was able to integrate lessons from iCivics into my “Forming a Government” Unit, “Civil Rights Movement” Unit, and they even have a fun Constitution Day lesson too.  Here is an example of how easy it is to incorporate iCivics in your classroom:

  • Lesson: The Executive Branch
  • Process: I begin teaching my own material for two days. Day three I incorporate an iCivics Executive Branch lesson. Day four my kids play the Executive Branch game “Executive Command”.  

My classroom has become a total iCivics classroom, which is leaving my students engaged and excited about civic education. With a little bit of time and effort toward figuring out how you can make iCivics work best for you, you too will have engaged future citizens captivated by their civic education! 



Amy Raper is an 8th grade social studies teacher at Palo Verde Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona. She loves finding new ways to get her students engaged and excited to learn in her classroom. Follow her on twitter: @amyraper