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iCivics and the Importance of Civics Education in this National Moment

    • iCivics and the Importance of Civics Education in this National Moment

       

      What is iCivics?

      U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics in 2009 to transform civic learning through innovative, free educational video games and lessons that teach students to be knowledgeable, curious, and engaged in civic life. Since then, iCivics has become the nation’s premier non-profit civic education provider to more than 7 million students across the United States. Check out this post to learn more.

      Back in 2019 it was difficult to go more than an hour without mention of the 2020 election—TV commercials, Facebook ads, social media posts, and endorsements flooded our screens and social lives. But 2020 has been a tumultuous year; it has drawn into harsh light the systemic inequities we have allowed to persist for too long, it has questioned the very foundations of our national economy and character, and it has raised real questions around the role of federal leadership in times of crisis.

      The Importance of Teaching Civic Education in Schools

      While this year is bound for the history books, in November, we the people who are living through these times are bound for the ballot box. And for many of our young adults, this will be the first time they are eligible to cast a vote. But even those who are not 18 by election day have an important role to play in this national discourse. We have seen this year that young voices can rise up and impact change, that they can claim a seat at the table regardless of age. 

      This dynamic national moment is countered by the reality that many of our young people have been distanced from their educators, schools, and school communities for many months. Classrooms and peers who would typically spread information about voter registration, underline the importance of being an informed voter, and support general civic participation, are operating at a distance via Zoom and online communities. 

      In this environment, civics education is more important than ever. 

      Resources to Teach Civic Education

      Below are a few resources from iCivics that aid students, families, and educators in deepening their understanding and engagement with their roles and responsibilities in our democratic system.

      These are resources that can be used in distance learning classrooms, in homes among family members, and among student peer groups. I encourage you to explore them in-depth and to share other resources you have found that support robust civics education. Visit http://www.icivics.org and the resources below to learn more.

      Remote Learning Toolkit for Educators & Families

      • iCivics’ Remote Learning Toolkit provides enrichment activities and lessons to help parents and teachers facilitate home learning for millions of K-12 students nationwide. It is critical to help young people build important civic knowledge and skills to help them understand the interplay between citizens and their institutions, and between citizens themselves, as we all seek to forge a collective path forward.
      • This toolkit offers customized resources and supports to provide differentiated solutions for parents and educators:
        • For Parents, there are manageable learning and engagement activities that their children can enjoy with minimal supervision. The Remote Learning Toolkit for Families offers tailored games and activities such as our Civics BINGO, which can be assigned to students with our new weekly parent planner.
        • For Teachers, there are high-quality resources that are motivating, engaging, and offer best practice guidance. The Remote Learning Toolkit for Educators offers virtual professional development webinars and support networks, updated resources on timely topics such as news media literacy, and our newly launched Game Odyssey, which encourages student game play at home through leveled game quests with badges earned for completion.

      2020 Election Headquarters

      • iCivics launched a 2020 presidential election headquarters to serve as the one-stop election shop for learning and engagement. As we approach November 2020, this remains a critical time for students to keep learning about the election process, understand the power of their vote and how to vote, and feel compelled to be active participants in our constitutional democracy — even if they must do so from home. The iCivics micro-site aims to provide teachers and students with accessible, interactive free digital games, lessons and infographics.
      • One highlight and example is the lesson plan, Voting: Will You Do It?

      While you’re here check out…

       

      Reply
    • These resources are GREAT. And more important now than ever, IMHO.

      I’m worried about how the shift to remote and virtual learning this school year is going to impact civics education during such an important election year so I’m happy to know things like this exist!

      As a parent, I feel like we have to help close the gaps by having conversations with our kids from a young age. My tween daughter who is now a loves telling the story of how I pushed her in a stroller to vote for Obama. It’s never too early to help them understand their roles as citizens in our democracy.

       

    • @jellis — Thanks for putting this together. This is very helpful. I wonder what the process is for teachers that want to implement a civic education curriculum but have push back from the school administration?

      Also is civic education required in most states? If not, has there been movement from grassroots organizations or even state and local leaders to push this forward?

    • @jellis Thank you for sharing this! Echoing what @cschneider said— more important now than ever! 🙌

      The 2020 presidential election headquarters is especially great to have all of the information all in one place!

    • As a parent, these resources are super helpful. I will start using them with my daughter today. Thanks for sharing iCivics and @jellis !

      I am curious, why has there been a downshift in civics education in our school system over the last decade, especially in our most low-income school?

    • @silvia Great question! Today, in 31 states students only have to learn civics for one semester, and 10 states don’t have any civics requirement at all so it is not consistent across the U.S. At iCivics, we are leading CivXNow, a cross-partisan coalition of over 100 organizations focused on improving civic education at the national level, and state-by-state basis.

      Civics is also often de-prioritized in many schools in comparison to other K-12 subjects. For example, annual state and federal level expenditures for STEM education average about $1 Billion – that’s almost $20 per every K-12 public school student. By contrast, funding for civic education is roughly $4 Million or about 8 cents per student.

    • @jellis Thank you for sharing this valuable information.  Civics education is so important, now more than ever!

    • Do you have any plans for social media based engagement for students to learn about civics and engage in learning through the 2020 cycle?

    • @aileenmcq WOW. That is crazy. Thanks for letting us know. @max @kkazimour would be huge to highlight these stats.

    • @aileenmcq That funding discrepancy is outrageous!  Could you lead me to the data source(s) for those numbers?

    • @Danielle that’s an important question since social media is a way many of us are staying connected right now. I’m now wondering how we can continue communication after November. Maybe a toolkit for educators to lead students through the important work between presidential elections.

    • @danielleb2020 Not yet, but stay tuned as we get closer to November! We do have lost of media literacy resources (including a game called Newsfeed Defenders) that help students learn to decipher misinformation and better evaluate their media consumption. That is critical for students as they dive more into social media platforms.

    • @max Send me an email at aileen.mcquillen@icivics.org and I can provide a few different reports! Don’t want to spam the thread here. 🙂

    • Reflecting on my days as a social studies teacher, I can say with conviction that the civics-focused lessons we engaged in are the ones that would most endure in the hearts, minds and ACTIONs of students. I am so grateful for what iCivics is doing to ensure all K-12 students receive high quality civics ed. Our country needs civic strength!

    • I just posted this lesson about one of our great civics and civil rights leaders, John Lewis. VOTING is crucial, and so many people have fought for (and continue to fight for) this right!

    • @nicolelavonne, what a great lesson on the life and legacy of John Lewis matched with the iCivics Election Headquarters really compliment the need for students to learn about the election process, the power of their vote, and the power of our nation’s leaders. “We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.” So timely to say the least. 

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How can these resources be utilized in your class, family, or home to encourage a deepened commitment to civic participation?

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