How I Use It
I used the iCivics web-based game, Win the White House, with my 7th grade students during our Election Tuesday classes to help them gain a better understanding of the political process of running for President of the United States. Before students played the game I used the iCivics lesson plan Electoral Process to provide students with the necessary background knowledge so they could get more out of the game.
Seeing as the 2016 Presidential Election has dominated the news cycle since the start of the school year my students have lots of questions regarding the political process. Win the White House provided an excellent resource for students to find answers to their questions while educating them on the role of presidential candidate from the primaries all the way through the general election.
My students really enjoyed the beginning of the game where they were able to build their candidate character by using avatars that looked like them. The students became very engaged in the simulation when they had to choose which political party they were supporting and the issues that were important to them. This sparked quite a heated debate in the classroom which led students into a very deep conversation about the issues. When students selected an issue that was of importance to them in the simulation they had to defend their choices which forced them to become informed citizens.
The only part of the iCivics game the students didn't like had nothing to do directly with iCivics (they were not able to register on the website with our county's e-mail system - students cannot receive e-mails outside of intranet). They wanted to save their game so they could play it again another day and they wanted to compete against other students in my other classes. Unfortunately this prevented students from being able to play against one another and see each other’s game scores.
I believe Win the White House is a dynamic yet insightful teaching tool to aid students in learning about our electoral process. The game platform is set up so that students with even limited knowledge of our electoral process can play and understand the game. The game walks students through every part of the political process – creating a candidate, winning your party’s primary election, designing your campaign (catchy slogan, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and pins), choosing a vice-presidential running mate, understanding the presidential campaign map, campaigning for 10 weeks (fundraising, polling, personal appearances, media broadcasts, and then you receive a summary of your presidential run. All of these elements truly give the students an understanding of how someone becomes president of the United States.
I was impressed with all of the materials supplied by iCivics to make it easy for teachers to use the game as a teaching tool. iCivics provided a very detailed and informative “a game guide for teachers”, a function to search for state standards to align with your curriculum, a teacher-made PowerPoint presentation to walk you through the process, an extension packet, and a fully developed lesson plan to provide students with background knowledge if needed.
My students would have really enjoyed being able to compete against one another without having to sign-up via e-mail. As previously stated, our county’s e-mail system for students does not allow them the ability to receive e-mails outside of our network. This prevented students from being able to play against one another and seeing each other’s scores. If there was a way to manage that function through the website I would have had to pry the Chromebooks out of the student’s hands.