Review by Chad Sansing, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2014

Cast Your Vote

Point-and-click presidential debate goes too quickly

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies

  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Covers relevant topics and gets students to reflect on their beliefs.

Cons: Replay value is limited to available questions, and players don't do much.

Bottom Line: It distills a debate down into a bite-sized chunk, but other iCivics games -- and actual debate videos -- dig deeper into politics.

Teachers should use Cast Your Vote as a quick exercise to illustrate the basic process of moderated political debate, or to introduce controversial political issues as part of a unit on elections, debate, or persuasive argumentation. Unfortunately, the game doesn't capture the energy and political conflict present in most presidential debates -- it's too tame for that. There are no off-script moments, interruptions, or answers that go over their allotted time here. Consequently, it might be useful to compare and contrast the game with famous moments from real presidential debates and to discuss what's gained and lost by voters in more and less civil examples of political give and take. If students are struggling with topic generation for a persuasive writing assignment, teachers can have them play Cast Your Vote and pick the point of debate that they find most provocative.

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Cast Your Vote is a brief and simple point-and-click runthrough of a political debate. Players ask the candidates five questions per game and rate the answers. At the conclusion of the debate, players vote for the candidate with whom they felt they agreed the most. When it's all over, players can review questions and answers, and see if they chose the candidate that did, in fact, best represents their beliefs.

Full Disclosure: iCivics and Common Sense Education share a funder; however, that relationship does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.

While it's a quick and easy experience with something to offer, it's difficult to learn a lot of new stuff from Cast Your Vote. The biggest things students will learn is how they stand on some key controversial issues and how different sides of those debates articulate their positions. After studying political parties or an upcoming election, Cast Your Vote can fill in a gap in a politics or debate unit and help students understand how candidates might differ on issues. It could also be integrated in an ELA classroom that's working on persuasive writing.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Though the questions are relevant and topical to current events and politics, the game itself is only a point-and-click exercise and limited to the set number of questions.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids choose debate questions to ask political candidates, and decide whether the candidates lean left or right. This is a useful exercise, but limited in scope.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

As in all iCivics games, directions in Cast Your Vote are clear. Plenty of information comes back to the player.

Common Sense Reviewer
Chad Sansing Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Craig L. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
San Diego County Office Of Education
San Diego, United States
Quick way to simulate a debate and polling environment
I like the simulation of civic engagement that this game provides. It can help students to think critically about actual political debates. I don't think this tool could be used too many times, it is a one level game, which I predict would not engage students for very long.
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