My son and I were fortunate enough to have tickets to see former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor last night at Town Hall. She gave a somewhat safe speech but she is a feisty woman with a good sense of humor. Her speech was on education but really about the importance of students learning about civics (remember that?). She gave some startling stats about how more people know who the judges are on American Idol than who are on the Supreme Court.
What is interesting is that she, along with a large group of educational institutions and foundations, has created Our Courts: 21st Century Civics. It's a website for both middle-school students and teachers with interactive lessons and games. The teachers can get step-by-step plans with printable worksheets/guides for interactive lessons. This is not your old school civics with lessons like "From King to Constitution: Get Off Our Backs!" and "James Bond in a Honda".
The students get on-line games where they, so far, can play "Do I Have a Right?" and "Supreme Decision". They are pretty basic but effective for what is trying to be taught.
From the website:
“21st Century learning” has become a buzzword that often lacks defined content. Who are 21st Century students and how does their learning style differ from any other generation? We believe that these students: prefer non-linear discovery over linear presentation of issues; often gather information quickly from multiple sources; benefit from problem-solving in a collaborative environment; learn best through case-studies; seek immediate feedback; and have an appetite for challenges and competition in learning.
Through engagement in real and hypothetical civics problems, 21st Century Civics asks students not just to learn about civics but to learn by doing civics. To this end, the Our Courts project seeks to:
* excite students through competition and self-directed learning;
* engage students in critical thinking, problem solving, respectful debate, and context-based learning;
* blend civics education and civics participation by asking students to be life-long civics learners and civics participants.