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New civics ed program launched

Thursday, August 15, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Beth Warrington
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The Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Bar Association (KBA) initiated a new effort to encourage use of an online game-based educational curriculum – iCivics – to reinvigorate civic learning in Kansas classrooms.


iCivics is a free online civics education program started by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2007 following her retirement from the high court. The Kansas iCivics Coordinator, Overland Park attorney Ted J. McDonald, Adam & McDonald P.A., is being assisted and supported by a Kansas iCivics Advisory Committee formed at the request of Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss. The Chief Justice is excited about the educational possibilities iCivics offers, and he and several other state Chief Justices around the country are very supportive of the program. The Advisory Committee includes judges, teachers, attorneys, other professionals, and staff members at the Supreme Court, the Office of Judicial Administration, the KBA, and the Department of Education. Current teacher/curriculum director committee members include Deborah K. Brown of the Shawnee Mission Schools, and Debra Stewart and Susan Sittenauer of the Topeka schools, and all currently use iCivics in their work.


The Committee plans to promote the curriculum’s use during "Celebrate Freedom Week,” which was enacted during the 2013 legislative session as an opportunity to educate school children on the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.


"Celebrate Freedom Week” can be presented to students during any full school week as determined by local school boards. During the week, public schools are required to teach to grades kindergarten through eight the history of the country’s founding, with particular emphasis on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and to eventually include their relationship to the nation’s diversity by way of immigration, major wars, and social movements in American history. The State Board of Education, along with other volunteers, is required to promote "Celebrate Freedom Week.”


The Advisory committee also plans to facilitate contacts with local educators, principals, curriculum developers, school boards, and "home school” organizations and individuals to assist with the introduction of iCivics into the educational system. In addition, the KBA may seek to use its lawyer members and others to reach out locally to educators and schools about iCivics.


iCivics seeks to improve civics education and support teachers by providing off-the-shelf solutions that can be integrated with existing curricula, by taking a digital approach to engage students and by leveraging media that the students are already using – video games.


iCivics currently has several curriculum units: Foundations of Government; The Constitution; Three Branches; The Judicial Branch; The Executive Branch; The Legislative Branch; Government & the Market; Persuasive Writing; Citizenship and Participation; Budgeting; Influence Library; Politics and Public Policy; International Affairs; Landmark Library; State and Local Governments; Civil Rights; County Solutions; and Media and Influence. iCivics also develops new curriculum units periodically. Each unit has corresponding lesson plans, web quests and a game that allows teachers to approach the curriculum in a variety of ways. If used together, iCivics’ lesson plans and games make up more than a semester’s worth of instruction and learning. If teachers pick up lesson plans and games here and there, each curriculum unit can independently supplement the teacher’s existing plans.


More information is available at the iCivics website, You may also contact Ted McDonald at and (913) 647-0670.