Friday, May 23, 2014

Schools and Teachers Needed for iCivics Pilot Project

Do you want to help students this summer learn more about citizenship? iCivics needs your help!

iCivics is working in conjunction with GlassLab and Filament Games to upgrade a popular game called Argument Wars. Middle and high school students and teachers are needed to improve the learning that occurs within the game’s cases.

iCivics is looking for 6th through12th grade students to play four games and then complete a short online survey. Their teachers – you! – would be volunteering on June 16 through July 3 to supervise the students testing out the new version of Argument Wars and provide feedback from what they also learned from the game. All pilot testing takes place online.

Contact Alison Atwater at by June 6 to learn more about this terrific program.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Celebrating A Civil Rights Landmark

It has been 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the case in which the doctrine of “separate but equal” was finally struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The United States Courts website has compiled a list of materials for teachers who wish to study this landmark case.
The resources include:
1.     A prepared script for readers to reenact the case – participants hold their own copy of the script and read their respective parts but do not memorize their lines. The emphasis is on comprehension and student-centered learning.
2.     The history of Brown v. Board of Education – teacher materials include a video of a young Thurgood Marshall from the site, Teachers Domain.
3.     Profile of Justice Thurgood Marshall – a summary of his early life, education, and legal career.

Teachers may download an activity package with recommendations on how to use the material.   

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Cultural Exchange

On April 29, I had an enjoyable dinner with seven Libyan judges who had spent the day in Columbus, touring the local courts and observing oral arguments at our Supreme Court. The judges came to Ohio as part of a three-week visit sponsored by the government of Libya to learn about the American system of justice. Following their professional training program, these judicial delegates will return to Libya with new ideas based on their experiences abroad.

At the dinner, I discovered that this is a time of great promise for Libyans. The State of Libya is located in northern Africa and has a population of more than 6 million. Since 2011, with the death of Muammar Gaddafi and his regime, Libya has been governed by a temporary constitution and is undergoing political reconstruction and reform. The judges told me that the new members of the commission charged with drafting the consitution had recently been announced and that they were eager for the completion of its work. The document will be put to a referendum when a new constitution is completed. The people of Libya will have a say.

Justice Lanzinger with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Libyan delegates and guests

The Libyan judges join a special group of visitors. The Ohio Supreme Court has worked with lawyers, judges, legislators, and government officials from other countries to help develop independent judiciaries and train judges for more than 20 years. I, myself, was part of a delegation to Ukraine in 1995, and we have also had visitors from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Serbia. The personal contact between judges of different cultures cannot be overestimated, and I am happy to have been part of the conversation with our colleagues from Libya.