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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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