Civics Apps, Tools, and Resources That We Love
As many of my readers know, I am a former Social Studies teacher and professor of social studies education. Teaching students Civics (citizenship) was a central part of my life for many years. So take it from me; Civics can be tedious when it only consists of reading a textbook. It can also be boring and long when students are required to research or memorize mundane facts. For these reasons, many students report that they don’t enjoy Civics. So how can we increase student engagement and outcomes in the Civics classroom? By implementing fun and engaging educational apps into the curriculum.
However, with so many things to do and only twenty hours in a day, it is difficult for teachers to research, test, and vet all of the existing Civics apps. Are you looking for apps, tools, and resources that you can use to teach your students civics? If so, we have you covered. Check out our list below. Let us know if there are any that we missed.
SyncBlasts for Social Studies – is the standards-driven, supplemental offering by StudySync that features daily, engaging topic-based reading and writing assignments with rich multimedia that explore history and culture through a contemporary lens. Students utilize a social media-like platform to share and discuss their unique ideas about each SyncBlast topic, fostering academic inquiry and conversation. New Blasts are published each school day, ensuring relevant, current topics and a consistently growing library of content available.
Counties Work – This game from iCivics is available on the web, iOS, and Android platforms. It requires players to manage local government affairs with available resources. The game has six standard departments, and players can add a new department of choice. Citizens stop by to make requests; completed requests raise popularity while incomplete ones reduce popularity. Maintaining a popularity score above 50% earns the player’s re-election.
Executive Command – In this game from iCivics, the user starts as the president in Washington, DC. Children choose their avatar and get to work immediately, addressing issues such as legislation, diplomacy, and war. The game is set in an alternative version of Washington, DC, and incorporates vital locations such as the Capitol, Air Force One’s hangar, and the Pentagon. The four-year term runs down while the player moves from building to building but pauses while they study bills. Available on web, Android, and iOS platforms.
Represent Me! – This is an iCivics game in which students play as legislators trying to get reelected. During the game, the students look at 12 bills, after which they pick the best one for their constituents, gaining votes in the process for the next election. They are also to determine the target beneficiaries of the bill—young, old, rural, urban, and so on. Numerous tips help the student decide on the right bills to choose. This is an interactive way to train students on civic matters.
Digital Civics Toolkit – This free website is designed for teachers to use as a resource for lessons on modern civic engagement and participation. It features five modules to use in interacting with students: Participate, Investigate, Dialogue, Voice, and Action. Each of these modules is designed to provide students with political awareness.
Race to Ratify – Race to Ratify is a game with a civics theme. In the game, the US constitution has recently been signed and is ready to be ratified by the states. Students play as pamphleteers who travel to the 13 states to hear the public’s opinions about whether to accept the document. The game takes students through the federalist and anti-federalist process of ratifying the US Constitution.
Trace Effects – This is an online 3-D exploration and logic puzzle game designed to enhance civic participation. There’s an element of time travel in the game, as users control a student sent to the present from 2045. Each chapter progresses as the users complete different tasks. In the end, the user gains extensive practice in using the English language. Upon completion of the game, access to language practice activities is unlocked.
Model Diplomacy – Model Diplomacy is a program much like the Model U.N. designed by the U.S. National Security Council on Foreign Relations. It teaches 16 real-life scenarios using a comprehensive system that involves textual simulations and role-playing. It is also like Google Classroom so that students can create accounts and share a common dashboard and other features with their peers and teachers. Lessons can also be toggled between high school and college levels.
IWitness – This game is designed to build empathy and social awareness among children using the Holocaust as the reference point. From their dashboard, teachers can hand out tasks to children, which include testimonies, archives, and a video editing project that allows children to tell their own stories from what they have learned. Students can also work together or individually to search, watch, listen, learn, and build word clouds while they work with multimedia activities.