Monday, January 10, 2011

10 Resources for Teaching Government with Technology

The new year has started off great....busy, but great.  I have been away from work to spend some time with family, but it will be time to get back in the groove by the end of the week.  If you missed my previous Resources for Teaching Geography and Economics, I highly recommend checking them out.  I now turn my attention to Government.

1.) iCivics is a GREAT site.  They have various games and interactives that students can use.  The site does a great job of helping students learn about the Supreme Court, play a game Executive Command and be a President for four years, or learn what it takes to become a citizen through Immigration Nation.  That is not the only games; their Games Section has over a dozen games broken down by the subject matter in government classes.  There is also a section for teachers as well where you can find the curriculum for the standards for your state.  This site is intended for middle schools, but I think the site is very applicable for 9th and 10th graders.

2.) If it is an election year, Project Vote Smart is a great site to learn about candidates and voting.  There is a special section for teachers that has lesson plans for all grade levels.  You can also visit their partner site; Vote Easy which provides a great background on the candidates for each state and their stance on the various issues/hot topics.  A great resource for understanding elections.

3.) From PBS, comes a great resources for learning about the Supreme Court.  One of their sites contains games and interactives that contains 9 games to help students learn about court cases and how the supreme court works.  So many of the Supreme Court cases have defined our future, and students need a good understanding of how it works. 

4.) From Scholastic comes You're the Candidate, an opportunity to create a Presidential Election platform.  Students create a character, create stance on issues, determine their level of importance on those issues, and choose states to spend time campaigning in. 

5.) The Three "Branches" of Government would be a great review tool or tool to use with an Interactive Whiteboard.  Each section of the tree represents one of the three branches and students place leaves that contain facts of each branch on the tree.  When done, a score is provided.

6.) Original documents are a huge part of understanding our American Government and its history.  With the creation of the Internet, obtaining these documents have become a lot easier.  There are several sites that make obtaining these documents.  The first is the Avalon Project by Yale Law School which provides historical documents in law, history, and diplomacy all the way back to 450 BC and through the present.  The other is Our Documents which contains the top 100 Documents to help us think, talk and teach about the rights and responsibilities of citizens in our democracy

7.) Part of teaching government for me was having students interpret Political Cartoons.  Whether they are historical in nature or present time, I tried to do as many as possible to initiate discussion.  Harper's Weekly has a great collection of political cartoons.  You can search by date or by topic.  For more modern cartoons, a great site is Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoonists Index.  

8.) The Constitutional Rights Foundation has a great section dedicated to education and teachers.  There is a section that contains lessons that you can search through for teaching government.  You can also find information on Mock Trials, which is becoming a growing sensation in government classes.  Although the site seems more focused on California, it still has great resources for any teacher. 

9.) In government classes, one section that is covered is American Foreign Policy.  The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections has put together a great collection of American Foreign Policy Resources.  You can browse and search for various texts related to foreign policy.  The collection covers the election of Abraham Lincoln to the end of World War I.

10.) Current Events is another aspect of Government that I would cover in class.  There are two great sites for finding current events.  The first is newsmap which organizes news by location and topic and color codes those topics as well.  Another site is 10x10 which helps organize and share 100 words and pictures that define the time.  You can choose a time and find the stories that matter to what you are teaching.

Up next will be U.S. History.