As you know, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is working with Polk County to launch the new public K-8 Citrus Ridge Civics Academy. One of the goals of our work at Citrus Ridge is to ensure that all stakeholders understand civics as a part of life. Civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions are embedded within every course, every facet of the school, and every element of school community life. This include physical education.

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Coach Emily Retzlaff is making it happen in PE. Our Peggy Renihan had the chance to see her in action as she integrated civic learning into physical education.

In Physical Education, as a way to incorporate Civics instruction, we play a game called The Elections.  There needs to be a boundary area marked by 4 cones that make a square.  You will also need 4 pool noodle sticks. The area is big enough so the students can run safely.  Each cone is numbered from 1-4.  There are Voters; who run around and try to dodge the Candidates.  The Candidates, who have noodle sticks try and tag the Voters when their numbers are called.  When the Candidates tag the Voters, they take their vote.  When the Voters number is called they will run across the field to the other side and stay as long as the Candidates did not touch them with the noodle stick and take their vote.  The Voters change their number even if they are at a differently numbered cone.  Number 1 Voters will run to number 3 cone.  Number 3 Voters will run to number 1 cone.  Number 2 Voters will run to number 4 cones.  Number 4 Voters will run to number 2 cones.  Once the Voter has their vote taken they will find the coach and stand outside the playing area.  The Candidate with the most votes wins.

We also talked about privilege and right.  In my Physical Education Class it is a privilege to have free time or choice time.  Free time or choice time is where students get to choose what they would like to play, i.e. basketball, soccer, jump ropes, hula hoops, etc. on that day.  We talked about when they turn 18 they have a right to vote.  Free time or choice time is not a right like voting.  We used the example of driving as a privilege when the students turn 16.

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This is a creative way to get kids thinking about choices, responsibility, and yes, even elections! We are grateful to Coach Retzlaff for embracing the mission of Citrus Ridge Civics Academy! If YOU have any ideas or suggestions for integrating civics skills, knowledge and dispositions into the curriculum outside of social studies please leave a comment or email me with your thoughts. We want to make this work!

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