How I Use It
I have used this program in my classroom when teaching about the executive branch. I used it as a practice for my students who had just finished up a unit on the executive branch. It was perfect to do it after learning about the ins and outs of the presidency, although, it could be used as a good introduction piece as well. The students responded to it well, for about 20 minutes, mostly because it was learning disguised in a game-like format. The element of the public approval rating actually made them more engaged and they used it as a competitive tool with the other "presidents" in the class. This kept them more engaged, especially when they knew they needed to get the job done as president, but they also needed to be liked. The game does a great job at mentioning key content phrases or words like a bill, compromise, cabinet departments, etc. It also does a good job demonstrating how stressful the actual job can be; I had many students saying they couldn't complete certain tasks because a more pressing issue would pop up faster than they had anticipated. Although it is good as a practice tool, it is not great at in-depth, higher-level, analytical thinking skills. There isn't too much required of them besides reading sections and clicking on certain things. I did have to make my own adjustments and modifications for ELLs or my students with lower-level vocabulary skills, especially when they had to read sections of a bill. It might be better use after going through and creating a vocabulary sheet or a way to click on words in the game to define them as they play.
Overall, this game serves one purpose: practicing/modeling a day in the life of the executive branch. It stresses important ideas that students need to be aware of outside of the classroom like time management skills. I certainly would not rely on this by itself to teach my students the different parts and elements of the executive branch, but again, it is a great tech tool to use to have students understand the difficulty of some of the processes of government. I highly suggest only playing the game for 15-20 minutes with high schoolers. They were able to enjoy it at the beginning, but it was hard to keep them invested and engaged throughout the entire process. The only way I was able to have them stay engaged the entire time was to encourage the competitive element of the game with the public approval rating (I offered a prize to the most-liked president of each class) and have them complete a worksheet connecting what they were doing with some content-related questions we had recently discussed in class. I would not utilize this with advanced learners, mostly because the game is practicing remedial-level skills and thinking, but it could be used as a homework assignment for those that would breeze through this in class. I would highly suggest that ICivics make more accommodations for different levels and types of learners that encounter this game in the classroom. I will continue to use this game, but until then, I am forced to make my own modifications.