Engaging students in civics lessons easier thanks to blended learning tools
- A new video series from Khan Academy will focus on civics education and how the U.S. government is structured and run, with the first five videos in the free-to-view series (also accessible via YouTube) featuring a conversation with Slate's "Political Gabfest" Co-Host John Dickerson and Khan Academy Founder Sal Khan.
- The first round of videos dovetails with three of Khan Academy’s courses, which include U.S. government and civics, Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics, and U.S. History. The videos concentrate on why democracy is important and what has changed in American institutions, such as the media and the presidency.
- The videos are short, ranging from about one to six minutes, but educators can also download transcripts of the videos for students to follow as they watch.
Given the current political environment, civics lessons have become even more important and curriculum leaders need resources that can engage students. There is, however, less focus on teaching civics in schools today, with a “…relative under-emphasis of civics education in the United States,” according to the 2018 Brown Center Report on American Education.
For administrators looking to broaden the civics education offered to their students, online models like Khan Academy’s, are a good place to start. So too is the Bill of Rights Institute’s free Document of Freedom course, which uses primary sources from artwork to the U.S. Constitution. They often offer fully crafted classroom lessons, but also add components of blended and flipped learning. Students can move through lessons at their own place, and then use classroom time for thoughtful discussions, and even ways to exercise their own civic skills and engagement. Another option is iCivics, founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, which offers game-based learning.
As seen in the latest polls, students today are feeling motivated to exercise their own opinions and beliefs about the world around them, whether it’s marching for safer schools or drafting a bill calling for gun control. Giving them the tools, then, to better understand how their government works and how they can be involved is an important contribution educators and curriculum directors can make.
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