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iCivics- teaching students civics through games

What it is:  iCivics is a great way for students to learn about civics in the United States.  The site features 16 educational video games that help students understand our government.  In addition to the great games, iCivics has great standards-aligned civics curriculum available for free to teachers! Games include topics like: Citizenship and Participation, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Budgeting, Foreign Policy and National Defense, Separation of Powers, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.  The games are fantastic, and put students right in the middle of the action and story. Activate- Students campaign for an issue of their choice. Cast Your Vote- Students choose the questions in a debate, rate the candidates responses, and cast a vote. Immigration Nation- Students help newcomers along their path to citizenship. Responsibility Launcher- Students help others with civic common sense. Argument Wars- Students argue a real Supreme Court case using persuasive abilities. Do I Have a Right- Student run their own law firm that specializes in constitutional law. Counties Work- Students make decisions about community programs and services. People’s Pie- Student control the budget of the federal government. Crisis of Nations- Student work to solve international problems. Branches of Power- Students control all three branches of government. Executive Command- Student get to be president. Win the White House- Students get to manage their own presidential campaign including raising funds and polling voters. Supreme Decision- Students help cast the deciding vote. Court Quest- Student help others navigate the US court system. Students can join iCivics for free.  When they do, they can take part in the Impact Competition where they play games, earn points, spend points on a iCivics real life project of their choice. As a teacher, you can sign up for an iCivics account where you can add classes and students. How to integrate iCivics into the classroom: iCivics is a great way to help students better understand the US government.  The games are engaging, relatively quick to play (one class period), and teach everything that students need to know to play the game.  Students with little or no understanding of the topic will be introduced to everything they need to know within the game. The games are a great way to learn about civics because they put students right in the middle of the action, the games remind me a little of the SIMS games that I played as a kid.  Students will enjoy being the decision maker in the game-this isn’t a power point presentation disguised as a game (you know you have seen those!). iCivics is best played on individual computers in a one-to-one or lab setting.  If you don’t have access to a lab where your students can play, students could play as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Make sure that every students gets a chance to participate and weigh in on decisions that are made. Tips: The lesson plans in the teacher section are truly well done.  These are worth using in your classroom!  Games are now available in the app store as well! Please leave a comment and share how you are using iCivics in  your classroom!

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NBC Learn: Science behind the news

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 08-05-2013

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What it is:
NBC Learn has some fantastic free resources for teachers and students.  One of these freebies is called Science Behind the News.  In partnership with the National Science Foundation, NBC explores the science, technology and engineering found in current events.  Here, you will find a collection of videos that introduce students to the science found in the world around them and current events.  Students can learn about everything from quantum computing, to predictive policing, to crowdsourcing and weather phenomenon.  Each video is around 5 minutes long and are well produced.

How to integrate NBC Learn into the classroom:  I am a HUGE fan of embedded learning.  Learning that is in context just makes sense.  The learning is richer because students are able to make real connections to the foundational understandings that they already have.  In addition, this type of learning gives them an idea of how the learning that happens in the classroom is connected to life.  With Science Behind the News, students are able to see connections to the world right now.  These clips encourage students to be curious about the world around them, and to dig into the bigger “why” of how things work.  I like the thinking that is encouraged here.  It is really modelling curiosity beyond just passively listening to a news story.

These clips are a wonderful way to kick off a new science unit, as a resource during inquiry, or for students and classes just to explore.  Students can use these clips as a starting point for further research, a “spark” for more learning.  Each student could choose a different video to watch and then conduct some research to learn more.  Where else is the science used?  How has our thinking about a topic changed over time as we have learned more about it?  What math is involved?  Help your students to see that subjects don’t happen in isolation in real life.  Science is connected with social studies, math, literacy, history, sports, art, economics, discovery, etc.  Can they find the overlaps in learning?

Tips:  NBC Learn has other outstanding resources including: science in golf, science in hockey, science in football, chemistry now, fishing the dream, sinking the titanic, science of the winter Olympics, science of the summer Olympics, writers speak to kids and science in innovation.  Check them all out!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  NBC Learn in your classroom.

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