Annual iEngage Civics Camp Teaches Students Citizenship Skills

  • Full-Size Image: iEngage
    iEngage campers from 2014 (Baylor's School of Education/Meg Cullar)
  • Full-Size Image: iEngage 2
  • Full-Size Image: iEngage 3
    (Baylor's School of Education/Meg Cullar)
  • Full-Size Image: iEngage 4
    (Baylor's School of Education/Meg Cullar)
July 29, 2016

Media Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, 254-710-4656

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WACO, Texas (July 29, 2016) – Nearly one hundred fifth- through ninth-graders will learn about civics and provide a rich resource for Baylor faculty research during the annual Baylor University iEngage Summer Civics Institute. Now in its fourth year, running from Aug. 1-5, the camp is hosted by Baylor School of Education through a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.

iEngage is directed by education faculty members and camp co-founders Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction.

The camp’s curriculum teaches children about civic action and political participation. Campers meet local civic leaders and office-holders before developing their own action plan for civic change. During the weeklong camp, they learn about the structure of government and other civic-related topics by playing digital games on iCivics.org.

Since 2016 is an election year, students will also learn about the electoral college, citizenship in the context of the presidential election, and effective argumentation in the context of presidential platforms. Playing iCivics games will also guide the students’ understanding of the electoral process. Blevins said the students will investigate local community issues and then look at the stance of the presidential nominees on those issues.

Blevins and LeCompte began their work with research and implementation of iCivics in Midway and Waco Independent School Districts. iCivics.org is a free online website founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that teaches civics concepts using educational games.

Blevins and LeCompte conduct pre- and post-surveys of each camper to monitor how their civics knowledge, skills and dispositions increase as a result of participation in the “action civics” experience. Through “action civics” students do and behave as citizens by engaging in a cycle of research, action and reflection about problems they care about personally.

“The iEngage Camp has proven to us that the youth of Waco are interested in community issues. They know that they have a ‘voice,’ and they know how to advocate for a cause. Even at a young age, iEngage campers can learn how to change the world, and they care about making a difference — and that is amazing,” LeCompte said.

“Not only does iEngage increase the participants’ civic knowledge, skills and propensity for action, it also impacts families and schools as the students share their enthusiasm with others,” Blevins said.

The camp is also furthering its impact by expanding to new locations, LeCompte said. She and Lakia Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Education, took the iEngage curriculum to a Freedom School in Fort Worth that serves an all-male population of African-American middle school students. The curriculum is also being used by faculty in other university settings.

Published articles about the faculty pair’s ongoing work in civics education have appeared in academic journals including Social Studies and the Young Learner, Journal of Social Studies Research, Theory and Research in Social Education, and The Social Studies.

iEngage will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 1 through Aug. 5, in Baylor University’s Marrs McLean Science Building, 1214 S. 4th St. The camp is free, and students receive T-shirts and a lunch through a grant provided by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.

Staffers at the camp include Waco area teachers, undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Education, who gain valuable instructional experience, LeCompte said.

“In an era when civics education is rarely taught in elementary schools, iEngage provides pre-service teachers and in-service teachers an opportunity to not only learn about powerful civics education curriculum, but to actually put it into practice with students. We hope the experience will increase their focus on citizenship education in their own classrooms,” Blevins said.

Highlights of the week’s schedule:

Monday features a Community Issues Fair with Animal Birth Control, Humane Society, HOT Goodwill, Salvation Army, Mission Waco, Waco Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Texas Hunger Initiative, Lake Waco Wetlands, Waco Sanitation, Caritas, World Hunger Relief, The ARC, CASA, the Cooper Foundation, Prosper Waco, Communities in Schools and Baylor DPS.

Tuesday, Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver will visit from 9:10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in Marrs McLean Science, Room 101. Students will also spend time visiting the Poage Legislative Library and have a Skype conversation with Congressman Bill Flores.

Wednesday, Waco City Secretary Esmeralda Hudson will visit from 9:10-9:30 a.m. Campers with spend the afternoon at the Baylor Law School, with presentations by area lawyers. Students will engage in election-related activities.

Thursday will provide intensive time for the students to work on their advocacy projects. They will also play an election-related game.

Friday, students will complete work on their projects. They will present their advocacy projects from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Marrs McLean Science 101. During this time, students will be available for interviews by the media about their projects. Also, on Friday, student blogs will be available at http://blogs.baylor.edu/iengage under the “Student Projects” tab.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The School prepares leaders beginning in undergraduate programs, continuing through master’s-level work and culminating in both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs; impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning and community-focused research in local and global contexts; and shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.

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