Using iCivics to Develop English Language Arts Skills

Civics is a subject area that offers an unlimited supply of complex, engaging primary and secondary source texts for students to read and build understanding from. This is why we believe it makes the perfect partner for English Language Arts lessons, now more than ever. In fact, a recent study done by the Fordham Institute found that engaging students with rich content in civics and social studies appeared to teach reading more effectively than other methods.

If you’ve never used iCivics resources as part of your English Language Arts curriculum [or to embed reading and writing skills into your social studies class], you’ve come to the right place. Our standards-aligned resources listed below will engage your students in high-interest, scaffolded writing assignments and discussions that will develop their non-fiction reading and writing skills to prepare students for College and Career readiness.

Dig into Author’s Purpose, Textual Evidence, and Writing with DBQuest

Use our DBQuests to help students read and analyze informational texts. Each module offers historical primary source documents on one topic, as well as guiding questions to help students dig into the text. This scaffolded approach helps students build evidence-based reading skills aligned with Common Core.

Here are three DBQuests you might try and the skills they will help your students gain. 

The Nashville Sit-Ins

This DBQuest explores three primary sources on the Nashville Sit-In Movement of 1960. It can be used to focus on the author’s purpose and selecting the best textual evidence to support conclusions. The DBQuest by itself is great for skills practice and can be paired with in-class reads about the Civil Rights Movement to help students build contextual and background knowledge.

Are your students reading books on the Civil Rights Movement? Consider how The Nashville Sit-Ins DBQuest can enrich and deepen their reading.

Assign the DBQuest

The Constitution’s Cover Letter

This DBQuest dives into George Washington’s letter to Congress in 1787. It can be used to focus on the author’s purpose, argumentative writing, and finding evidence to support analysis. Washington’s letter serves as an excellent mentor text for examining rhetoric as elements of persuasive writing. After students complete it, consider having them write a persuasive letter of their own.

Assign the DBQuest

America’s Founding Preambles

This DBQuest digs into the preambles and introductory text of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. The module can be used to help students build skills in finding evidence from informational texts to support analysis and answer questions.

Assign the DBQuest

“I have been integrating Science and Social Studies into our English Language Arts and Math courses. iCivics’ resources are wonderful for that, because I could easily teach the importance of learning good reading, decoding, and comprehension skills at the same time that I am teaching about the bill of rights or voting.” – Deanna C., Special Education Teacher

Teach News Literacy and Journalism

Add a Fun Game: NewsFeed Defenders

Do your students understand news and media messages? Can they tell fact from opinion? Accuracy from deception? A credible source from an untrustworthy one? Engage students in gameplay, literacy, and valuable 21st century skills.

In Newsfeed Defenders, students employ critical thinking as they evaluate markers of deceptive media by working to maintain a fictional social media website. Be sure to explore the NewsFeed Defenders Extension Pack, which includes ready-made activities designed specifically for the game.

Extra Credit! After gameplay, ask students to write a journal entry about why we shouldn’t believe everything we see on the internet.

Play the Game

Journalism-Focused Lessons

Our media literacy curriculum offers a wide variety of lesson plans to dig into skill building around journalism, such as understanding satire and bias, and evaluating opinion. Lessons in each unit will challenge students to take a critical look at media messages through simulations, vocabulary-building activities, and real world applications.

Engage Students in Persuasive Writing

In our Persuasive Writing Curriculum Unit, students learn how to “argue on paper” using a fictional case about a school dress code rule against band t-shirts. The lessons take them through the process of writing two persuasive essays: one supporting the rule and one opposing it.

Explore the Lessons

Resources Made in Partnership with Teacher Created Materials

Teaching Civics Today

Teaching Civics Today: The iCivics Approach to Classroom Innovation and Student Engagement is a professional resource that shows teachers how to bring civics into their social studies classrooms in an engaging, meaningful way.

Whether used with our K–5 Readers or by itself, this resource is the perfect tool to help you develop tomorrow’s leaders today by helping your students understand the value of civic engagement.

Learn more

Why Civics? Why Now? Re-Imagining Civic Education for the Next Generation

In this on-demand webinar, Emma Humphries, Chief Education Officer for iCivics, dives into the research-based connections between civic knowledge and reading comprehension.

View the Webinar

iCivics K-5 Readers

The iCivics K-5 Readers are standards-aligned and include lesson plans, student activity pages, assessment, and game cards, as well as links to digital resources like ebooks and a multimedia library. These topic-driven books help students explore social issues, understand government, make logic-based arguments, and consider different options. They aim to promote civic discourse and critical thinking through easy-to-use lessons.

Learn more