This post is in partnership with Fantasy Congress. All opinions are my own.
Civics education is essential, and it doesn’t have to include a list of facts for students to memorize. Do you think that fantasy sports can help teach students about politics? I was a little skeptical at first, but I’m so glad that I learned about Fantasy Congress and their platform — it will help you take a spin on a traditional civics lesson.
When the team at Fantasy Congress reached out to me this fall, I was excited to dive in and learn more about their platform. I love fantasy sports, have an MA in History, and was curious about what they put together. In this blog post, we’ll go through the steps for getting started with your students and just how easy it is to use this model to talk about politics with students.
Civics Lesson with a Twist
Fantasy Congress is an easy and effective way to incorporate current events and the political process into the classroom. The platform is entirely online, and just like Fantasy Sports apps, all of the points students earn tally up automatically. It is web-browser based, and there aren’t any special tech requirements or apps to download. You can set up your teacher account in just a few minutes.
How does it work? Each student has a team, and they draft current congress members. The members of their team earn points for all sorts of legislative actions. That means students can follow along and see how their “players” do as they take specific actions throughout the term. They can earn points as the Congressional members introduce bills, speak on the House or Senate floor, and other legislative acts.
This activity is competitive in nature, and students will have to check in on the members of their team to see what they are up to each week. Has a senator on their team introduced a new bill? Has someone voted in a roll call vote? Your students might find themselves checking in on a live stream from C-SPAN throughout the day to see what the members they are following are up to.
For students to win, a teacher sets a season by determining a start and end date. The winning team is the one with the most points by the end of the class’s season. If you or anyone you know is a fantasy sports fan, you know that they can rattle off statistics and tell you specific details about their fantasy team members. Imagine if students had the same energy and enthusiasm for following along with members of Congress!
Fantasy Congress in Action
I’m starting this school year in an adjunct professor role, so I wanted to share with you a few quotes from educators who have used Fantasy Congress with their students:
“Students found Fantasy Congress straightforward and liked the competitive aspect of it. The rules and ways points were calculated were fun and straightforward. Any way I can get my students to follow elections is great, and this is a fantastic way to make it engaging for them.” — Nora, Social Studies Teacher
“We are having a lot of fun playing Fantasy Congress. In fact, just today, we spent the bulk of today’s class discussing our scores, looking at how points are being scored (and even reading transcripts of speeches made on the House floor) and reviewing our teams. I told them that we would have a weekly update of the standings on Fridays during the season. They have been really enjoying it (especially since they’re beating me in the standings!)” — Jonathan, US History & Government Teacher
I love how students not only learn hard facts about the political process but strengthen critical thinking skills, too. You might try this out with your class as part of a civics lesson or bring media literacy, data analysis, and discussions on compromise and collaboration into your classroom.
Ready to start using Fantasy Congress? Use this link to sign up for their educator package. There’s no limit on the number of students who can play, and you can start upgrading your traditional civics lesson right away!
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