Common Sense Review
Updated July 2015

Virtual Republic

Flexible, informative forum lets students discuss current events
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating
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  • Learn about issues, share opinions, and take action.
  • Search by case study, topic, or date.
  • Get an in-depth look at relevant current issues.
  • Examine issues by learning about past and current policy.
Articles are written with students in mind, and discussions encourage kids to be informed and active citizens in their communities.
Text-based content may limit access for struggling readers and ELLs.
Bottom Line
A free, easy-to-use online forum for students to learn about, discuss, and explore solutions to current issues.
Jennifer Sitkin
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Virtual Republic encourages students to make personal connections to current issues. Opportunities for discussion and policy proposals should get students involved in the learning process.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

The content on the site is age-appropriate, and online discussions and comments are monitored and structured. Teachers may need to provide guidance to support struggling readers.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

FAQ pages are provided for both teachers and students, and teachers can also post questions in an administrator-monitored support section.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

With a free account, teachers can set up a class and get started. Take time to share the site with your class, and then students can explore it on their own. The entire class can focus on one issue and create policy statements for discussion and action, or, as an alternative, small groups or individuals can learn about different issues. Students will need access to their own devices to read the articles and post comments. Teachers may want to develop assignments or lessons to accompany the site; for example, students could create multimedia presentations about what they learned or write research papers in which they use the site content as reference material. The site is a great fit for a current events or debate class, and it could also be used in any subject area to incorporate current issues as a supplement to the core curriculum.

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What's It Like?

Virtual Republic is a free site that provides a forum for students to learn about and discuss solutions to current issues. Part of the Colonial Williamsburg educator resources, this website can be used as a companion to the Idea of America digital curriculum or as a stand-alone resource. Teachers register for a free account and set up classes where students can participate in activities like debates and discussions over current events. Issues are sorted by topic, case study, or date. Each issue page includes a short article on the issue and links to additional content, including how the issue relates to you, and current and past policy. Additionally, there are policy solutions and proposed actions that encourage online discussions and civic involvement. The discussions are monitored, and students and teachers must follow rules of engagement as they post comments to the site.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Virtual Republic is a valuable tool for informing students about current events and how they have a role in addressing key issues facing the world and their communities. The site is easy to navigate, and the articles are written for a high school audience. The focus on how each issue relates to “you” emphasizes personal connections and responsibility, which should increase student interest and learning. The structured approach to making policy statements and comments is a useful format for students to practice as they engage in thoughtful discussion on each issue. The content on the site is primarily text-based, and teachers may need to supplement with multimedia to increase access to the information for all learners. Finally, there's an extensive list of organizations that can be used to get students involved in their communities -- a great resource to help kids take the next step and take action.

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See how teachers are using Virtual Republic