(Do you have what it takes to be a citizen?)
I would love to share a wonderful website that I have become obsessed with over the past few months. The site is called iCivics, and contains some really fun games that assist students in learning about various civic duties and processes, while concomitantly captivating the audience (you, your students, or other friends who are interested in American values). Ok, so maybe this site isn't for everyone, and as a social studies teacher, I may have more enthusiasm than the rest of you; however that does not discount the fact that it is a fun and educational game (and here you thought that the terms 'fun' and 'educational' would never belong in the same sentence). The site was developed with the help of Sandra Day O'Connor (yes, that Sandra Day O'Connor, first female Justice of the Supreme Court) and produces tons of online games with corresponding lesson plans for teachers. A few of the games that I have played and highly recommend are: Executive Command (you get all of the power...and responsibility, of being the POTUS) and Do I Have a Right: Bill of Rights (you are in charge of a law firm and you must learn the Amendments in order to refer clients to the right lawyer in your firm). These games last about 20-25 minutes and can be played on any computer with internet access. The games are also scored and allow students to print completion certificates so they can compare their scores with others in the class.
Overall, this website could help a social studies educator in many ways, especially considering the fact that the games are supplemented with teacher lesson plans to be used before playing the game. I would most definitely introduce this game to my students as a homework assignment or test prep. Through these easy to use, fun, and interactive games, the students will not even realize they are studying. The future of education may or may not be video games, as suggested by Jane McGonical in this TED lecture, but one thing is for certain; educators can learn from the video game industry model, which tempts children into spending more time on video games per week than they do on homework assignments. Below is a trailer for the game "Executive Command."