iCivics: For Informed and Creative Citizens

icivicslogoOne of the most exciting things about teaching in ways that support creativity, is that teaching for creativity can also support sound thinking. That is certainly true for the website iCivics.

Founded by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics is designed to prepare young people to be knowledgeable and involved citizens—and do it through engaging games and classroom activities. While much of the content is focused on the U.S. political process, activities can be useful for students across the globe. The site is too rich and varied for me to describe everything, but let me give you a sample, then you can explore on your own.

icivicsgameOne of the hallmarks of creative thinking is flexibility—the ability to see things from more than one perspective. How better to do that than by examining issues in an election? (It is certainly the case that more flexible thinking would be a huge asset to American politics at the moment!) The game Cast Your Vote allows students to choose the questions in a simulated debate, determine which candidate they support for each issue, and then decide how to vote. The game provokes critical thinking as-is, but imagine how much more students could learn by using it as a model to create their own candidates, issues, questions and answers. Providing reasoned options from varying perspectives is a challenging exercise in both critical and creative thinking.

The game Activate involves students in campaigning for various issues (bullying, litter, animals, etc.), beginning in their own home and moving to ever-larger problems with each level. Other games simulate participating in a jury, writing a law, and running a law firm specializing in constitutional law. Like Cast Your Vote, many games provide fine interactive opportunities as-is, but also can be modeled by students to create original classroom examples.

In addition, iCivics has a teacher resource section, with units ranging from persuasive writing to media influences, the Constitution, branches of government, budgeting, and more. You can even search by state and grade from materials that match state standards. And it’s all free! Take a look and see how iCivics can help your students learn and think—creatively, of course.

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