As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I’m heartbroken about the increase in hateful and offensive activities that so many children have witnessed, front and center, during the long months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Just how do we talk to kids when they’ve observed and heard so much?
I ask this question because we parents and educators know the actions to take (where to help and support others, places to volunteer, etc.), the values we want to model (kindness, respect, honoring differences, integrity), and the civics concepts that we need to be certain our students understand — but our task will far more difficult in the 2016 post-election world.
When she retired as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor could have headed to the golf course or just relaxed. But she did not. Instead, she started an educational organization, iCivics, and she has been instrumental in the release and promotion of that group’s free video games — 19 of them!
iCivics is a non-profit founded by Justice O’Connor, and its goal is to “empower teachers and prepare the next generation of 21st Century students to become knowledgeable and engaged citizens.” Readthe iCivics story.
The organization has also created video games along with lesson plans and resource materials that aim to fill in the gaps in students’ civics education. Unfortunately, the subject has often fallen by the wayside in many schools, so the focus of the games is to help kids learn about the different branches of government and about their responsibilities as citizens. The games encourage figuring out and solving problems rather than simply memorizing information. Continue reading “iCivics: Sandra Day O’Connor is a Video Game Entrepreneur”→
As the lives of my students, online and off, grow more complex by the day, I spend a good deal of time helping them learn more about digital citizenship. Today the digitally connected, always-on world presents students, teachers, and parents with confusing questions and baffling behavior expectations.
But wait a minute!
Is this digital citizenship or just plain citizenship? Building strong 21st Century citizens is of paramount importance whether we are living our lives offline or on, and we need to avoid using old-fashioned compartmentalized instruction in a connected world.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines citizenship as “The qualities that a person is expected to have as a responsible member of a community,” and helping students shape themselves into responsible community members is what caring adults do. We model appropriate behavior and help children learn how to participate as respectful and ethical members of society. No matter where they work or play, our citizenship goals are the same.