Friday, June 29th, 2012...8:26 am
Historical Simulations, Pros and Cons
Having just returned from training 22 dedicated teachers in Tyler ISD, training is on my mind. As I share and publish lessons that I teach, I wonder how my lessons will be interpreted and taught, especially lessons that have students simulate historical events.
When I create student simulations of historical events like the Underground Railroad, The Battle of Bull Run, and The Push and Pull Factors that Immigrants Face, I am always aware of my students’ needs and feelings. Through historical literature, primary and secondary sources, and many classroom discussions we build a common understanding and discuss openly the issues that people have debated for centuries. When we embark on a simulation, it is always clear that it is just that, a re-creation. Students are eager, voluntary participants who can explain both sides of an issue. While our classroom simulations are the favorite lessons of all my students (see student blogs http://kidblog.org/LittleLonghorn5thGrade2012/), they are also the lessons that take the most planning, care, and caution.
The pros of teaching through historical simulations are:
- Students are able to interpret historical events and express themselves;
- Students build a deep understanding and empathy;
- Students learn to agree and disagree in a way that promotes open discussions; and
- Teachers are able to build a strong classroom community where students feel safe discussing issues they care about.
- The extra time it takes to inform school staff and parents of your plans, and the flexibility it takes to adapt lessons to meet the needs of all;
- The extra time it takes to prepare and implement simulations with sensitivity;
- The risk of a misunderstanding if issues are not handled with empathy and sound professional judgement.
When and how do you use simulations, and how do you ensure that they are done with the care and sensitivity that they require?
Freebie: I found another great on-line, interactive Underground Railroad website: