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iCivics Launches Drafting Board, Innovative Common Core-Aligned Writing Tool

iCivics.org, the nation’s leading provider of high-quality and cost-free civic education materials, is revolutionizing both civic learning and the teaching of writing skills with the launch of its new tool, Drafting Board.

Drafting Board is a free online tool that helps students meet Common Core Standards for English Language Arts in History and the Social Studies. It engages students in a clear, step-by-step process of crafting a polished argumentative essay while providing teachers with tools to assess their students’ progress.

“Today, 45 states have adopted Common Core standards, and teachers across the country need proven resources in their classroom to meet those standards. Drafting Board is that resource,” said Gene Koo, executive director of iCivics. “iCivics’ latest innovation, which we’re offering free to the world, engages students in deeper 21st-century learning that will enable them to participate fully in civic life and the modern workplace.”

Drafting Board’s blended learning model combines technological innovation with teacher intervention. It uses civics-based topics students care about to engage them in the process of crafting a thoughtful and effective essay while meeting Common Core standards including analyzing and synthesizing evidence, comparing and contrasting texts, and developing and supporting claims based on evidence from source materials. A large-scale independent study conducted by Tufts University shows an increase in student writing scores after the use of Drafting Board compared with traditional teaching methods.

Drafting Board currently offers six civics subject areas including student expression, the role of interest groups, and military intervention, and will eventually offer 17 topics to engage students in argumentation writing.

Drafting Board is the result of support from EDUCAUSE as part of the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. NGLC is dedicated to the fostering of the thoughtful application of technology to education; iCivics has been dedicated to that proposition since its inception, and Drafting Board is an exciting new addition to iCivics’ rich curricular tools and resources.

"It is important that organizations like iCivics are thinking of new ways to meet the evidence-based standards of the Common Core,” observed Robert Torres, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Drafting Board is a noteworthy contribution to public education on many levels,” said Andrew Calkins, Deputy Director of NGLC. “It provides a valuable resource to students and teachers in the art of learning to write, as well as in civics; it uses technology in innovative ways; it’s aligned to the Common Core; and it’s being distributed free to America’s educators. NGLC is proud to have played a role in its development and we applaud iCivics for its work.”