iCivics: Lesson Plans and More

Concerned that students need information and tools for civic participation and that civics teachers need better materials and support?   Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor addressed these very concerns and last year founded icivics.org, a nonprofit group that teaches students civics through Web-based games and other tools.

The web-based education project teaches students civics and inspires them to be active participants in our democracy.  From pages of engaging lessons plans, here are three to check out:

  •  So You Think You Can Argue prepares students for persuasive writing by introducing them to the concept of making an argument. Students discover there’s a difference between “arguing” and making an argument in support of a position, and that making an argument is a learned skill that doesn’t depend on how you feel about an issue.
  • I Can’t Wear What?   Students meet Ben Brewer and find out what happened the day he decided to wear his favorite band t-shirt to school in violation of a new dress code rule. Students read a summary of a Supreme Court case to figure out the “rule” that applies to Ben’s problem. This lesson lays the groundwork for students to write two short persuasive essays—one arguing each side of the issue.                                                         
  • Lookin’ for Evidence: In order to build arguments for their essays, students examine evidence about whether band t-shirts were disruptive at Ben’s school. Students think critically to filter out evidence for and against each position.

In addition to lesson plans such as these, this exciting site provides games on topics like citizenship and partnership, separation of powers, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and a teachers’ link to a state curriculum finder, curriculum units and outlines.

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