San Carlos Middle School Civil Rights Lesson

CIVIO was the perfect way to to bring to life the concepts 7th and 8th grade San Carlos students had been studying about the U.S. Constitution. "No one wanted to quit playing when the time was up!" according to Carol Drace, Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at the school.

Reach And Teach co-founder and CIVIO game inventor Derrick Kikuchi and Reach And Teach Managing-Partner Laura Pierce visited the San Carlos Charter Learning Center in December to discuss civil rights with the 7th and 8th graders and play CIVIO.

"We'd been working on a more formal lesson plan that teachers could use to discuss civil rights and introduce CIVIO. Having Ms. Drace invite us in to try the lesson plan out with her students really helped us fine-tune the contents." said Derrick Kikuchi. "We've now started accepting invitations to lead a civil rights discussion and play CIVIO at other schools as well as with some local community service organizations."

The lesson, now available as part of a CIVIO Teacher's Pack, starts out with a group discussion, inviting the students to articulate what they think civil rights are, what freedoms are guaranteed by the Constitution, and how our rights are protected. The discussion also goes into the concept of a "balance of powers" and the role of the various branches of government. "One important thing we try to make clear is how important it is for each individual to recognize his or her own power in making our system of government work." said Kikuchi. "Apathy and non-participation, the belief that each of our votes and voices don't matter, those are the greatest threats to our Democracy."

Throughout the discussion the students are introduced to the various types of cards included in CIVIO: Freedom Cards, Amendment Cards, Case Cards, Law Cards, and Issue Cards. At that point, the cards themselves drive quite a bit of animated discussion. Carol Drace remarked "It was wonderful to see my students so engaged and having fun while learning."

Finally, it was time to play the game. The rules took only a few minutes to explain and the play began. "It was easy enough to understand and fast paced enough to keep everyone attentive." said Ms. Drace. Derrick Kikuchi commented "One of the most fun aspects of watching people play the game is hearing the conversations they have about the various cases and laws in between rounds."

The team at Reach And Teach was thrilled with the time spent at the San Carlos Learning Center and Ms. Drace plans to use CIVIO again. "The game was a tremendous success. I plan on using it with all my future government classes and hope to have enough sets for small groups to engage in. I only wish we had played the game sooner during our study of U.S. government so that my students could have had more time to delve more deeply into the amendments and other constitutional rulings the game introduced them to."

The CIVIO Teacher's Pack will help Ms. Drace and others do just that. There are two packages, one with five games and another with ten. Though the Reach And Teach team can't travel across the country to do it, Kikuchi and Pierce are available should other Bay Area schools and organizations want them to come in and lead a civil rights session. "It is not only fun for me to lead these group sessions, but it also helps restore my faith in our future to see young people so engaged and so excited about their role in our great Democracy." said Kikuchi. "We just did a session with a group of Americorps volunteers and if you ever wanted to see how great our future can be, just spend a few hours with kids in San Carlos and Americorps volunteers in San Jose playing CIVIO!"

For more information about having a civil rights session and CIVIO in your school or organization, or to buy a CIVIO teacher's pack, visit