Creating An Engaging Lesson Plan

For a teacher, having an effective lesson plan in place is the ticket to reaching students, especially those who might otherwise not be engaged in a particular subject. The sense of fulfillment that the teaching profession is meant to achieve is enhanced when that plan lays the groundwork for such students to take it upon themselves to learn more about a topic.

Listed below are some ideas for lesson plans that can get through to students the particular importance of a topic. While some may scoff at the idea of using educational games to get a message across, past experiences show that they can work:

Going Beyond Lectures

While verbal instruction has been a hallmark of teaching forever, adapting to the era of the mobile device can do wonders in reaching contemporary students. That's because it provides an atmosphere where videos and interactive contest become part of the curriculum, allowing them to stay focused rather than simply listening to you talk.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Expecting students to learn on their own at a pace that you set can essentially lead to a system in which some students thrive while others fail miserably. Designing group learning topics to explore deeper issues when it comes to such things as history or US civics puts the onus on all members of that group to do their part and promotes teamwork in general.

Games People Play

A relatively dry topic like US civics might elicit plenty of yawns from students, but using educational games to deliver the right information can stifle such actions. One example is PolitiCraft, which allows the student to have a choice in what type of civic engagement they prefer and gets them to use their own creativity in fashioning solutions.

Digital Storytelling

Designing lesson plans when it comes to writing can often be difficult because some students take to standard instruction right away while others simply can't grasp the concepts of this necessary concept. However, through an idea like digital storytelling, a student's writing abilities can grow by using software that turns their efforts into video representations. That something that forces the student to concentrate more in order to get their point across.

Pinpointing Objectives

A teacher's lesson plan is something that a student now often sees in a general way, with nebulous expectations potentially leading to short attention spans toward a subsequent topic at hand. Presenting one that's fairly specific, while allowing for some wiggle room on the part of the teacher, gives the latter a certain level of flexibility. By the same token, students can get a better sense of the concepts that are most important. 

Civics Taught Right

New technologies, educational games and other key components are often part of lesson plans that reach their intended target, the student. In the area of US civics, PolitiCraft is something that can light a fire under those students that can aid them long after they leave the classroom.

Civic engagement is something that's learned, yet too often, such knowledge comes in piecemeal fashion or from the wrong sources. Using PolitiCraft can avoid that trouble, so go to www.politicraft.org to make sure your students learn something important while also having fun.

Make Civics Great Again

The role of civics when it comes to public discourse has become even more important in recent decades as differing political persuasions have attempted to offer their own interpretations about exactly how government runs. The drastic differences that each side has been spouting mean that US politics is in need of its own brand of education.

The Need for Change

Due to this yawning gap, creating the framework for students to embrace just important this concept is can help stem the tide of this problem in the decades that follow. Teachers know that strict instruction is more likely to turn off their pupils, an issue that can be circumvented through the use of educational games like Politicraft.

Within the realm of that traditional instruction, many well-meaning organizations and some of those politicians are under the impression that mandating such education through legislation is the path of least resistance. Most teachers can quickly disabuse them of that notion, meaning that more developed ideas should be considered instead.

Forcing the Issue

This legislation, which was passed by eight states in 2015, requires that students be able to answer 60 percent of the 100 questions asked to individuals on the citizenship test. However, some of the questions have nothing to do with civics and as any student knows, 60 percent success means achieving a minimum of success.

Making Things Fun

Some of the ways to engage students in a better way can have them re-enacting past debates, which each side committed to arguing their case. Either that or the creation of a fictional country can spark their imagination while working within the context of some established ground rules that help shape the realities that are currently present in US politics.

There are also video educational games that look at certain governmental issues and the duties of the average citizen. Being an active participant in this instance can be infinitely better than simply reading a staid interpretation within a school book.

In the case of Politicraft, it essentially boils down to an educational card game that views civic-oriented concerns through the prism of either national, state or local matters. That choice is up to the individual student, which gives them a certain level of power and can help make the investment of time needed to understand a situation fun and a learning opportunity.

Contemporary Concerns

Even before the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in November 2016, education on civic-related matters was being diminished. Then, during the presidential campaign, Trump indicated that he would push to change libel laws, which he has little authority to actually accomplish.

Since Trump took office, the rights of Muslims and even legal immigrants have been called into question, with other legalities involving Supreme Court nominees also sparking debate. Without having a solid grasp of civics, some students may not be aware that rights are at risk of being violated and the authority of the president has established limits.

Value Where It Counts 

Through the use of educational games such as those noted above, a greater understanding takes place and will hopefully compel students to dig deeper to get to the actual truth of a matter that either affects or interests them. 

US politics has seen the ebb and flow of turmoil over the course of more than 240 years, with the current situation one demanding greater attention from all citizens. Getting students to embrace the benefits of Politicraft is a simple and easy way to make sure the ball starts rolling. Conract us today! 

The Importance of American Civics

Education is something that spans far beyond the classroom and long past the date of any testing that’s conducted to assess a student’s level of achievement. When it comes to civics education, that process isn’t something that always attracts the interest of a student, which can eventually be a detriment to the overall advancement of society.

The Intellectual Wall

In the area of American civics, the divide between those students who are interested and those who appear to reject the idea that such information is important can often boil down to economics. Those who are already in a comfortable position quickly discover that a civics education goes hand-in-hand with a political education, which will end up benefiting their interests. Meanwhile, those in need of governmental help usually fall by the wayside because of their lack of knowledge in this area.

Basic information, such as the number of Senators in Congress and the number of amendments in the Constitution, eludes far too many students who should be learning all they can about American civics. The main problem stems from the fact that political education of this sort that was previously mandated has been cast aside in favor of more marketable classes that provide information of fleeting value.

The Fallout of Apathy

The ramifications of being able to understand the value of learning about civics can usually be seen on Election Day, with the amount of people voting barely reaching half of the available electorate. In many cases, that number goes even lower and makes the level of civic engagement one in which the people who complain about things needing to change abdicate their opportunity to accomplish that feat.

Within the context of civics is also an unwillingness of many to understand the value of learning about American history. Critics reject such suggestions as merely consisting of a series of names and dates, which is a severe understatement that has the potential for dangerous circumstances for those who remain blissfully unaware.

The adage that those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it describes many in this category. Many who fail to detect similarities from past actions of politicians and others in a position of power will be the contemporary victims who have to pick up the pieces once the same mistakes emerge.

Limited Options

Current politicians, whether because of their ability to manipulate audiences or because of their own civic ignorance, can often seek to take steps that unfairly target demographic groups. Without a full grasp of their rights or the background to understand the basis for such actions, those audiences are at risk of having rights stripped away.

Get Them Young

Engagement when it comes to civics should begin during a student’s earliest years, when they’re more approachable when it comes to the learning process. To reach students at this age level, games and other seemingly unorthodox options may be the way to approach the situation. Capturing their attention at an early age will make it easy for more age-friendly enticements to take hold.

Taking the First Step

Creating an awareness of the value of civics education is something that PolitiCraft does every day. Our commitment to making sure that teachers and parents have the proper supplies available to not only instill a political education into students, but also gain a greater understanding of American civics, is what drives us. So we're here to help make sure that all Americans gain greater awareness about civics. Contact us to see how we can help.

Does Game Based Learning Actually Work?

Reaching students is something that teachers strive for on a daily basis, using various techniques and strategies to try and make it happen. When it comes to the concept of game based learning, there are avid proponents who see it as a way to develop positive behavioral instincts, while opponents dismiss it as something that takes away from the learning process. 

In truth, there’s nothing wrong with educational games that help deliver the right message, since they're something that helps promote greater engagement. With that sort of connection, the belief is that there’s a much better chance of the student absorbing all that such lessons have to offer. Such thinking then helps broaden the scope of the individual’s development.

The Realities of Life

When it comes to game based learning, the student will have the opportunity to see within the context of the game that winners and losers exist. That’s something that plays out in everyday life, no matter what facet of society is viewed. Thus, that student is able to realize that they may achieve success or experience failure, sometimes regardless of the amount of effort they put into something.

Using games as a conduit for teaching allows for the high-pressure stakes that may be a part of the above scenarios to be avoided. Such circumstances may help engender the sort of risk-taking that would ordinarily be applauded in areas like the entrepreneurial world. Eliminating such risks could set the stage for individuals to simply go with the flow in their later years, due to fearful concerns of failure.

Developing Strategic Interests Through Cards

Using card games to deliver a message is something that holds the promise of offering quick feedback when it comes to testing out different strategies. Many such card games can be completed quickly, which means that multiple interactions can be completed in rapid fashion. This holds out the hope that the methods used to emerge victorious or the mistakes made when going down to defeat can be adapted to real-life situations in the future.

Educational games of any nature don’t always have to be based on one-on-one interactions. The best games in this realm find a way to work in collaboration with others into the overall framework, since most jobs require at least the idea of teamwork in order to fulfill any necessary obligations. 

Reaching for Bigger Things

Two key areas when learning through games that lend themselves to future positive development are the establishment of certain thresholds that have to be reached, followed by pinpointing the goals to seek. Without something to strive for, either in a game or life, there seems little purpose toward taking part.

However, goal-oriented games can be used as a metaphor toward showing such things as the continued value of education or the need to continue having competitive challenges. This sort of structure is something that can be developed in a less-pressurized atmosphere.

The Value of Civics

When it comes to civics, teachers and parents often find children either disinterested in what that all entails or struggling to place it in the proper context with respect to their own lives. Politicraft seeks to combine the fun of card games with the importance of learning about civics to create a game based learning experience that gets results. 

Children can learn without even realizing it, which shows that educational games like Politicraft’s particular focus can encompass the very best of this important subject. Contact us today to order your set to help children learn all about civics.

#NCSS16

We loved seeing so many familiar faces and meeting new ones at NCSS16 this weekend in Washington DC. Whether it was at our booth or in our session, it was exciting to share the game with everyone.

 

We met so many great people working in the civics space, whether it is in the classroom, at a museum or another non profit. There are some exciting things in the works for the game so stay tuned!

NCSS Endorsement!

We are very proud to announce that PolitiCraft has been endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)!

What does this mean exactly? Well, it means after examining the game, its mechanics and how it integrates the standards of their social studies curriculum, NCSS believes PolitiCraft is an effective tool for classroom learning. So you can use the game, and our free resources, knowing that they meet the criteria outlined by NCSS for the most effective methods in Social Studies teaching.

Happy playing!

What the students have to say...

Recently, after playing the game in her classroom, our teacher advisor Mary Ellen Daneels asked her kids to reflect on the following question: 

What actions can individuals take to help you #changethestory about the issue you choose for your narrative? Use the ideas from PolitiCraft game play today to discuss how you one could go from a thermometer to a thermostat and impact your cause. 

Here is what some of the students had to say:

"They can become more involved in the community, especially by supporting a candidate. This will give them a channel to spread their views and get their word out more. Also, they can run social media campaigns and write articles to get the word out of their issue, club, or organization. By working closely with other campaigns and social issues, they can gain support and have a wider network for service. If I can gain enough support while of working with existing organizations, my goal of positively affecting childhood obesity could become a reality. Even if it isn't a large national campaign or affect, helping any amount of people is a great way to give back to my community." -Ross

"Others can help me by just doing small things. For example they can build a website, make YouTube videos, and spread awareness through social media. They can also start campaigns, march, help in fundraisers etc. Small things can help stop this issue, they do not always have to be big things." -Diana

"They can help me spread the word. I can start by spreading the word from the internet or social medias and then once a lot of people start agreeing with me or start helping me out spread the word we can start protesting or marching." -Kathyia

"People could use the social media to promote awareness about police inactivity. Since social media is such a big way to spread word about something, why not use that to our advantage. Not only that, but attending political or district council events would be a good way to spread word about my issue. It will allow people to become knowledgeable about the risks at hand."      -Alexander

"First, they could make a sign and website to give people some info on the topic of bullying. Then make a petition and go around to see if people support what you are trying to take action on. Then take that petition to the state to see if they will try to pass laws about the topic of bullying once they see how many people support preventing it." -Aimee

"The actions that the individuals take to help me change my story about my issue is to make websites and do marches about equality of the teens with disabilities and us. I really like the building bridges card with Jessica. It gave me the idea of teaming up with other people who have the similar issue with me and other different issues as well. I think it'll make the issues more powerful." -Lesly

"Individuals can get involved within the community: join an interest group and organizations. I can blog about the different ideas or situations that have been occurring within the community that deal with bullying and ultimately help bring awareness to the issue by forming bonds with individuals who have experienced bullying and gain their opinion on the issue and how bullying has impacted their everyday lifestyle." -Jessica

 

Share your stories using #wedocivics 

 

Its Happening!

We are so excited to share that the PolitiCraft base decks have been ordered! After a slight set back with our original printer, the final version of the decks and their brand new 2-piece box are being printed as we speak! Once the decks arrive, they will go on sale on our new Amazon page.

 

In the meantime, take a look at the various versions of the cards over the last year as we’ve worked to bring you the best product possible!

PolitiCraft at FCPS's Social Studies In Service day!

Team PolitiCraft participated in Fairfax County Public School’s 2016 social studies in-service day in August. With hundreds of teachers in attendance, we were excited to debut the brand new deck!

 

Our national teacher advisor and NCSS Board Member, Mary Ellen Daneels, was on hand to show the teachers all the easy ways to use PolitiCraft in the classroom.

PolitiCraft Artwork

We have just completed the original artwork for our base deck! We hired Los Angeles artist (and Imagineer) Nikklos Smith to take on the very large task of capturing the spirit of our game in over 100 original images for the cards. We were drawn to Nikk after seeing his body of work, including his image of the Obama family in the style of the Incredibles.

 

 

Nikk submitted a proposal of his vision for the game on the big donor card. We felt he captured the essence of PolitiCraft in this one image and we were excited to see the rest of his work.

 

 

After working hard for several months we are thrilled with the final product and can’t wait for everyone to see it in full!

Check out more of Nikks work at http://www.nikk.rocks/#nikkolas