It was a massacre. Bodies lying everywhere, draped over rocks and sprawled in the road. The cries and moans of the wounded loud in our ears. The smell of gun smoke wafting through the air. Other soldiers hiding in ditches and behind trees, yelling instructions at one another.
And then . . . the bell rang and we all went to lunch.
Welcome to my 3rd hour 8th grade American History class sometime in the early 1990s. Before standards or state assessments, and without a clear district curriculum, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted.
And one of the things I wanted was for my kids to understand a bit about how historical battles were fought and how terrible war could be. So during our study of the American Revolution, we recreated the battle of Lexington and Concord.
Kids were assigned roles as British regulars or colonial militia. Tactics were discussed and practiced. We talked about historical context. And we carefully handed out the weapons – left over paper from the teachers’ lounge, wadded up into balls. Each soldier was allowed only so much, based on their role.
The colonial militia was allowed to turn over the desks to act as rocks and trees. British regulars, with red construction paper taped to the chests, had to march down the center of the classroom – surrounded on both sides by over-turned desks and angry Massachusetts farmers.
I would strike 10 or 15 old fashioned matches, blowing them out quickly so the room filled with smoke (pre-smoke alarm days) and the battle was on.
Yesterday I talked a bit about the pedagogy of video game theory – a little of the hows and whys of how game design can be used to help teachers develop high quality instructional units.
And I promised a practical example of how video games can be embedded into lesson design.
There’s been some buzz from the SimCity people over the last few months about a possible online video game tool. The promise has been that this tool would include an educational-based version of the game and a collaborative network designed just for teachers.
My daughter readily admits to being a fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, both the book and movie formats.
Me? Not so much. I do appreciate parts of the movie series but I struggle with how Tolkien seems to enjoy stringing things along, especially in the books.
The good news for both of us is that there is a new Lego Lord of the Rings Wii game available. She’s gets her LOTR fix and I get to play video games. And so last night we spent a considerable amount of time saving Middle Earth from a variety of evil creatures, editing characters, navigating all sorts of levels, collecting Lego pieces, and using maps.
The Lego Lord of the Rings Wii has a navigation system that uses a very cool map of Middle Earth. It got me thinking of something I wrote a few years ago. So . . . I’ve re-posted it below as a Tip of the Week.
Times are tough. Teachers are getting fewer and fewer opportunities to take kids on field trips. You just can’t hop a plane and head out to the Gettysburg battlefield or the Palace of Versailles like you used to.
But the good news is if you can’t get to Versailles, Versailles can get to you. With a bit of help from Google, the Palace of Versailles now comes in 3D.
The new this summer Versailles 3D website offers you and your kids the chance to explore and experience the Palace in all of its 3D glory. Read more