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In 2010, retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the court’s first woman, founded iCivics, a web-based initiative to improve civics education across the country. Justice O’Connor is concerned that students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation and that civics teachers need better materials and support. iCivics is fun, it is free, and it can fill that void.
Justice O’Connor spoke about iCivics to the 2010 Annual Conference of Chief Justices, which was attended by Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell, who enthusiastically signed on as the state chair for Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Judiciary has enlisted the support of the Rhode Island Department of Education and the Rhode Island Bar Association to promote iCivics.
The iCivics programs and materials were developed through a partnership of academic institutions and experts in the field of games and digital entertainment. iCivics offers free lesson plans, Internet-based activities called “web quests,” discussion forums, and games.
The lesson plans are designed to reinforce and expand on the games and also meet national and state standards. They are written and vetted by master classroom teachers and are searchable by standards in every state. Comprehensive teacher guides are provided to facilitate classroom use and integration into existing curricula.