Okay. Let’s call it what it really is.
It’s a video game.
Hopefully we’ve all gotten past the “Is it okay to play video games in history class?” debate. (If you still need some convincing, head here for some handy research.) So . . . yes, Mission US: Flight to Freedom is a video game. And not just any video game. A great video game.
It used to be that to call a video game “educational” was like saying your blind date has a nice personality. Educational video games all seemed to be some sort of space cannon that could be aimed at slowly drifting multiple choice answers. Not so much anymore.
Mission US: Flight to Freedom by the people at Thirteen WNET is a fun and innovative role-playing game developed to change the way middle school students learn U.S. history. The second in the Mission US series, players of Flight to Freedom assume the role of Lucy King, a fictional 14-year-old enslaved in Kentucky in 1848. As they work to navigate her escape and journey to Ohio via the Underground Railroad, students discover that life in both the North and the South could be dangerous and difficult.
The game rolls out just in time for play during Black History Month. Kids can access the game in a couple of ways – online streaming or by downloading it directly. Teachers have access to a very strong set of teaching resources and materials including document-based questions (DBQs), a rich collection of primary sources, activities for individual, small group, and whole class implementation, vocabulary builders, standards alignments, writing prompts, and visual aids.
The cool thing about the game is that kids encounter a diverse group of people – from abolitionists to slave owners – and must make decisions that affect outcome. “Flight to Freedom” helps students learn how enslaved people’s choices – from small, everyday acts of resistance to action that sought an end to slavery – affected not just the lives of individuals but the nation as well.
Students also practice a wide variety of historical thinking skills will playing the game – historical context, cause and effect, primary source analysis, literacy skills and foundational vocabulary – while learning more about the system of slavery and the movement that worked to abolish that system.
So go ahead. Play a game. You’ll be doing your kids a favor.