iCivics and Do I Have a Right? as Models for Curriculum Design

iCivics is an organization whose governing board includes retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who founded iCivics in 2009. Their website ( disseminates curriculum targeted primarily at middle and high school students. The curriculum is adjustable, ranging from full units, to print-and-go lesson plans, to game guides with instructions and pre- and post-game discussion questions and activities. The curriculum is centered around digital games in which students take on a role within or dealing with the U.S. government. The games (there are 19 of them at present) are all designed to be playable in a 45-minute class period, either alone, or in small groups, or as a whole class. Most materials are free, but teachers must register for a free account for curriculum materials. Some print materials are for sale.

One of the games, Do I Have a Right?, deals with constitutional law, specifically the amendments. Players run a law firm, with different lawyers who specialize in different areas of constitutional law, based on the amendments. Players have seven days to establish the new law firm by meeting potential clients, determining if they have a case, and if so matching them with a lawyer who has expertise in that particular amendment. Knowing the amendments by number is tremendously helpful in this game, because it is fast-paced as more potential clients come in and must be screened and matched with an appropriate lawyer. If learners don’t know the amendments when they start playing, they will have a much better understanding by the end of the game.

Do I Have a Right? is newly available in Spanish as well as English, and an available (with registration) extension pack includes English learner supports. The game can also be played on mobile devices.

All of the games and accompanying curricula on the site are a fantastic resource for social studies teachers. Since Do I Have a Right? is also available in Spanish and the extension pack includes supports for English learners, it is also a wonderful resource for Spanish and ELL teachers. Informally, students can be encouraged to play the game during choice time; more formally, and entire instructional unit can be planned around game play. Teachers who are interested in incorporating digital game playing in their instruction in an intentional, strategic would do well to start with the materials on iCivics; they are classroom-ready and can serve as a template for similar teacher-created units on other topics.

This organization is the recipient of a 2015 MacArthur Award and serves over 150,000 “teacher-users.” Its games’ adaptability, curriculum supports, and reputable team all make it a model resource for using games for classroom learning.


Take The Road Less Traveled: Wheels of Aurelia Review

Source: Wheels of Aurelia

Introduction to Wheels of Aurelia

“Take the Road Less Traveled,” is the page line for Wheels of Aurelia and the game involves just that. As the character Lella, you embark on an eventful road trip along the Via Aurelia. Along the way, you interact with hitch hikers, engage in car races, even rob banks, and much more. If you like driving, beautiful scenery, and interacting in languages including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian, then this game is for you. It is important to note that this game is intended for mature audiences, so keep that in mind before you start.

How to get the game

  1. Go to the website
  2. You can view a one-minute demonstration of the game as well as various screen shots. More extensive demonstrations of the game are available on YouTube.
  3. The game is available for purchase on the App Store, Steam, Xbox one, PlayStation4,, and PressKit.
  4. After purchasing, don’t forget to check your email for your access key. It may take a few minutes to arrive.


How to play (see in game tutorial as well):

Your objective is to interact with a variety of passengers passengers and find out why they are traveling the Via Aurelia. Your trip will differ based on your conversations as well as on your choice of city to visit. The game does not follow a level-to-level format. Instead the goal is to re-play the different levels until you discover all the possible game conclusions (16 in total).  For example, you might conclude gameplay by helping a priest make amends with his mother, winning car races, catching criminals, or even settling down and having a family. Click here for help reaching all possible conclusions.


Reviewer’s notes:

The first thing I noticed in playing the game is the fun music! It has a groovy soundtrack as should be the case with any good road trip. The music shifts depending on which city you are in and what’s happening in the game. For example, there is more upbeat music for car chases and more relaxing music while cruising.


Target audience:

This game is intended for mature audiences. It includes explicit language and topics including abortion and bank robbery. The game is advisable for young adults and adults. There is also an above beginner level use of language, so Novice Low-Novice High learners may have difficulty in understanding the game narrative.

Source: Wheels of Aurelia

Pedagogical uses

While playing Wheels of Aurelia, users can interact with Wheelspedia, an innovative in-game feature in which the player can pause and learn more about a person, place, or event from the game dialog. The language in Wheelspedia is directly from Wikipedia and is a good potential springboard for individual student research. Of course, this is also useful for improving students’ reading skills, especially since they can read more about topics they find when browsing both Wheelspedia and Wikipedia in their free time.

Source: Wheels of Aurelia

Vocabulary: This game is the perfect companion to a unit about travel. Students playing the game have the potential to learn vocabulary for driving a car (e.g., turn left/right, speed up, slow down, pull over, be careful, sideswipe, car accident, etc.). Students could even practice this vocabulary by narrating their gameplay out loud.


Pragmatic competence: Another cool aspect of the game is that you interact with individuals from a variety of backgrounds. This can help increase students’ pragmatic competence as they are able to see how a dialog and interaction shifts depending on who you are speaking with and what you say.

Source: Wheels of Aurelia

Project-based learning: Finally, this game has great potential for project-based learning. One option is to have students work on an individual or group project based on something they learned in Wheelspedia or on a city they passed through in the game. Another idea is to have students do further research on a topic from the game and share it with the class. An alternative option would be to plan out a road trip with a partner and figure out where they would go in the world, who they might meet, and why.


In sum, Wheels of Aurelia is both fun and useful for language learning. I recommend testing it first before encouraging your students to work with it. If you choose to use it, I hope you and your students have a great adventure taking the road less traveled!


Check out to get started! Divertiti!


-Zach Patrick-Riley


A Review of Quandary: Engaging Players in the Consideration of Moral Dilemmas


source: Quandary (iOS)

As it’s name would suggest, Quandary is a game of social and moral dilemmas. It provides players with a series of quandaries that must be solved through collaborative interaction with the game characters (the colonists of a futuristic society on the planet Braxos).The player’s job is to act as captain and keep peace within the society.

Quandary not only has immense potential for language learning, but it also requires higher-order thinking and problem solving in order to successfully complete the game. Quandary doesn’t push a specific political or moral agenda. Instead, it provides a wide variety of potential solutions, making it the player’s job to make decisions based on his or her own moral code.

Overall, gameplay is fairly quick. Depending on the age and level of the students, gameplay should take somewhere between 2-3 hours to complete the entire game. The game can be played in English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, and Turkish. Additionally, the game is available for Android (tablet only), iOS (iPad only), and web, making it a highly accessible tool for classroom use (check out the website for additional resources for parents and teachers).

Source: Quandary (iOS)

Game Play

Quandary is comprised of four chapters Chapter 1, “Lost Sheep” deals with livestock security; chapter two, “Water War” deals with private vs public property; chapter 3, “Fashion Faction” is about uniforms; and finally, chapter 4, “Mixed Messages” touches on cyberbullying. As captain, the player’s job is to find a solution that he or she believes will best benefit the society and will receive the support of the town council. Game play begins with a brief comic about the issue at hand (depicted below). The captain is then given the opportunity to listen to the thoughts of each colonist (depicted above). Some colonists present potential solutions, while others present facts or opinions. Players must sort the cards into the proper category to receive points. After sorting through everything, the player chooses the two best solutions. These solutions must be presented to the colonists again, using relevant facts to sway their opinions. Finally the player chooses their favorite solution and sorts the colonists by who they feel will agree or disagree with the choice. The final solution is given to the council who decides whether to support, modify, or reject the proposal based on its popularity with the colonists. Successful completion of the game requires that students listen to the colonists and comprehend their opinions. Each task allows for the accumulation of points and the overall goal is to complete the game with as many points as possible. This is done by properly sorting cards, listening to each colonist, correctly using facts, and asking the opinion of each colonist before making a final decision.



Quandary has immense potential in the language classroom. Each chapter provides ample opportunity for contextualized vocabulary acquisition, and the card sorting phase specifically, provides a great space to increase language awareness by examining the structure and tone of language used for stating opinions and language used for stating facts. As a result, this game can be a great starting point for increasing students’ digital literacy by aiding in their understanding of linguistic tone and pragmatics via reading the colonists statements.


Additionally, the game lends itself well to a variety of ability levels (novice-advanced). Students with relatively low proficiency levels are able to engage in meaningful word-level examination, and the audio recordings of the colonists’ responses allow for multimodal exploration of content. For more advanced students, the game provides scaffolding for discussions about pragmatics, cultural morality, and implications in the real world. Since gameplay is short in comparison to other games there is room for creative and potentially lengthy extension activities. This allows the game to be tailored to even the most advanced students. Quandary’s greatest asset is its flexibility of use, making it a wonderfully engaging tool for any language class.

Source: Quandary (iOS)

-Isabelle Sackville-West


FluentU: A Blog for German Language and Culture

Here at Games2Teach, we are always looking for resources where language learning and gaming intersect in meaningful ways. In a recent post from FluentU, a blog about German language and culture, they wrote a post about various techniques on how to practice listening, reading, and even speaking skills in German. From listening to commentary while playing a soccer game to making difficult decisions for characters surviving in a zombie apocalypse, this blog post gives a number of helpful suggestions for people who are interested in using games to teach German. The post also gives some ideas on how to use games at various proficiency levels, which is often a difficult thing to gauge for those who are looking to use games for the first time. Take a look for yourself by clicking on the link provided here!