The Pursuit of Civic Classroom Happiness
September 11, 2014
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thomas Jefferson
That’s it- that’s why you are here at iCivics... You’re looking for something new and different to continue your pursuit of happiness. That pursuit and that self-evident conviction is how you’ve landed on the iCivics website.
As a Civics teacher, sometimes civic education does not seem important to my 7th graders. I try to make it exciting and interesting as I teach about the requirements and duties of each branch and office. Even with all of my effort, I still get blank stares from students who would rather talk about the current events of their personal lives (via Instagram and SnapChat), over the current events of our nation. Then I realized, why not meet them where they live? Why not teach the material in a way that will engage their interests? That’s when I came upon iCivics. iCivics has online games where students can:
- Be the President (Executive Command, Win the White House)
- Develop laws or policies (Represent Me, Lawcraft)
- Decide the fate of a trial (Do I Have a Right?, Argument Wars, Court Quest, Supreme Decision, We the Jury)
The games excite them as they experience the power of an office. As they play, they begin to understand how our government is FOR the people and BY the people. You may ask yourself- is iCivics right for my type of students? They allow average and advanced students to apply knowledge they’ve gained. For struggling students, they re-teach the concepts. To them, it doesn’t feel like learning, it feels like fun.
Not only does iCivics provide a variety of games, but they also have an excellent library of lessons and resources on a broad range of civic topics. When it’s time to plan, iCivics is the first place I look. Sometimes, I can use the lessons just as they are – like the units on Foundations of Government and the Influence Library are a perfect fit for my class. Other times, my course of study objectives differ than the material they have created, so I use parts of the iCivics activity sheets and lesson plans that fit my curriculum, and plan out the rest.
If you are looking at iCivics for the first time or it’s been a long time since you’ve looked at iCivics, I challenge you to explore the units for yourself. You won’t be disappointed, you’ll be one step further on your pursuit of happiness.
Leigh Stovall (@LeighStovall) has been teaching 7th grade Civics and Geography teacher in Alabama for 6 years. She is a National Board certified teacher in Social Studies- History/Early Adolescence and has been a part of the iCivics National Teacher Council since 2011.