News, resources, and links to help educators and home schoolers improve academic achievement.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bring the Election into Your Classroom!

Do you need a new strategy for bringing the election to life in the classroom? Are you concerned about the decline of Americans in civic knowledge and participation?  There’s a website devoted to turning that trend around.
Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, offers educational video games and teaching materials developed by a national leadership team of educational government experts. The website offers free lesson plans and curriculum units that include reading materials, questions and links to specific web resources to help students apply the topic to real-world situations. 
Media plays a big role in elections and civic life. Using, teachers can introduce students to critical thinking skills, using simulations, vocabulary-building activities, real world applications and more in iCivics' Media and Influence Unit.
Use interactive games to keeps students engaged: In Win the White House, students can manage their very own presidential campaign by strategically raising funds, polling voters, launching media campaigns, and making personal appearances. There’s a map for monitoring progress as they battle over electoral votes and popular support. In Election 2012! teachers register for a free account and choose from a variety of specially-designed materials including games, lesson plans, and more to bring this year's election into the classroom! In Do I Have A Right?, students will run their own firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law.
Do you want to show your students how to make your community a better place to live? In Counties Work, students decide about the programs and services that affect everyone!  In Argument Wars, students can hone their debate skills and persuasive abilities by arguing a real Supreme Court case.

This site has much more to offer.  Teachers can use the curriculum finder to search for curriculum by state, course and grade level, and select from a variety of curriculum units. Step-by-step instructions for using the materials are included with each lesson or unit. The interactive games do not require any prior knowledge, and are designed to be playable during one class period.  They can be played on individual computers or a single computer in connection with a smart board or projector.
These interactive games help keep students engaged, and there are incentives for students to play the games, like earning points that they can spend on community projects (posted on the site).  Every 3 months, the project with the most points wins $1,000.  
The entire website is visually appealing and easy to navigate. There is also a button for site visitors to click to donate funds.  This is an excellent free resource for helping to prepare young Americans to become knowledgeable, engaged 21st  century citizens! 

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