Building a professional learning network is crucial for any educator who wishes to stay updated on the most recent trends in their pedagogy and relevant developments within their professional sphere. Using this network to learn how to properly incorporate technology into the classroom isn’t always black and white, as argued in this Top Hat article.
Technology catches a lot of flak in the classroom. It’s a distraction. It discourages authentic social interactions. It breeds cheating. All are true but the pros still outweigh the cons. When technology is properly used as a tool it has an unparalleled ability to foster a more collaborative learning environment that can takes students farther in their education than ever before. Outside of the altruistic nature of education, technological fluency is also a life skill required in a modern economy. Our students livelihoods likely depend on how well we incorporate and teach technology to them. So to technologically enhance my own civics classes I found two major organizations to lean on: The National Council for the Social Studies and iCivics.
The NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies) website offers a wide range of services from independent resources, an annual conference, and webinars and workshops for professional development. Furthermore, the NCSS Facebook page provides constant updates about various conferences and seminars around the country and any news relating to the education of social studies.
From their website I found a post about Teens Dream.
Teens Dream is a global video contest that encourages teens 13-18 to make a short 2 minute video based on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Videos can cover topics such as poverty, hunger, equality, housing, etc. It’s a great initial way to incorporate technology in the classroom and allow students to express their creativity. The link is found here.
After checking out the NCSS twitter page I stumbled across iCivics, a gaming and resource publisher that “empowers teachers with effective and engaging resources to develop the next generation of citizens”. The video below shows a game they publish called “Win the White House”:
It encourages students to explore the entire political process within a presidential campaign while making it fun by providing numerous player choices in the game allowing them to express their own ideas and strategies. Another popular game iCivics publishes is called “Do I Have a Right?”. Students run a constitutional law firm where they assist clients with constitutional complaints while simultaneously learning the amendments and the rights they do and do not offer.
These are just several examples of the numerous products iCivics provides; a company I will absolutely use in the future.
A HUGE bonus is that both of the games are published for free and available on-line at the following links: