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Apr 05, 2012

Paul and Gail Ebeltoft tout iCivics in North Dakota

IADC member, Paul Ebeltoft and his wife, Gail, have teamed to get the iCivics “word” to teachers and future educators in North Dakota using tried and true and innovative ways of promoting the iCivics curriculum.

Starting last fall, Gail, who works in a university setting, partnered with an Assistant Professor of Education in the University’s Department of Teacher Education to bring iCivics to the teacher education program. The professor integrated it into her classroom as an example of how a fully prepared, standards compliant curriculum can assist these students become more effective in their careers in elementary education. The web-based iCivics program was immediately popular and the benefit for pre-service and newly hired teachers immediately apparent.

In October, experienced history, government, and social studies teachers from across the state were introduced to iCivics as a part of the North Dakota Justices Teaching Institute, facilitated by Chief Justice Gerald W. Vandewalle, who Paul asked to be State iCivics Chair. Many participants took the iCivics curriculum straight to their classrooms.

In January, partnering with her regional teachers’ university, Gail brought iCivics to Practically Speaking, an in-service training day for both experienced and pre-service educators. iCivics was demonstrated by three middle-school children. The enthusiasm for the iCivics games shown by these youngsters sold the attendees on the value of the program. Incidentally, these three middle-school children have rationed computer time at home. They each chose to spend their valuable screen-time to play iCivics games.

This is just the beginning. Gail has begun working with the North Dakota Humanities Council, which is committed to increasing civics education in the state. The Council is interested in iCivics as a powerful tool to leverage knowledge of public humanities. A contact has also been made with the statewide Prairie Public Broadcasting system. Paul, a member of its board, has asked that it use iCivics as a part of its missions to provide professional development, trusted resources and high quality education to children in the state.