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Posts tagged ‘simulations’

50+ interactive sites for social studies

Karen Ogen gets the credit for creating an easy to use, visually appealing list of interactive sites aligned by content area. Larry Felazzo gets the credit for sharing Karen’s work. You get the credit for using the list with your kids.

Pretty simple.

Head over to Larry’s site to get Karen’s link and be sure check out some of Larry’s other interactive site links.

Still not enough? Try some of these: Read more

The Game Believes in You – Using video games as instructional tools

During an extensive spring cleaning binge over the weekend, I had the chance to sort through a ton of memories and personal primary sources. And I ran across some ancient artifacts. Yup. Five and quarter floppy disks.

Actual floppy disks.

Yes, I am that old.

I know many of you have never seen such a thing. So a quick overview. Think of an app that you install on your phone. Same basic idea. Except the size of the file on the floppy is smaller than most of the images in your phone’s camera roll, it has minimal graphics or none at all, you have to reinstall it every time you want to use it, and you need a special disk drive attached to your computer to access the software.

I’m not sure why I saved them. Obviously I can’t use them. Even if I could find a 5 1/4 disk drive, there’s not an operating system around that would run the program. Part of it, I’m sure, is that the history nerd in me wanted to save them for . . . I don’t know. It’s just cool saving old stuff.

But the teacher in me flashed back to a couple of classrooms when those floppies did some pretty amazing things. Read more

New Mission US game released!

It was almost five years ago that I first ran across Mission US and wrote a quick blurb about it.

“Designed specifically for the educational market and aligned to national standards, Mission US is a multimedia project that immerses players in U.S. history content through a free interactive game with extensive teacher materials and resources. Students playing the game will walk away with a solid knowledge of the pre-Revolution period. And for the most part, the game does a good job of engaging kids in thinking and asking questions.”

At the time, there was just the one game teachers and kids could play:

“For Crown or Colony?” puts players in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. They encounter both Patriots and Loyalists, and when rising tensions result in the Boston Massacre, they must choose where their loyalties lie.

In the years since, Mission US added:

In “A Cheyenne Odyssey,” players become Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy whose life is changed by the encroachment of white settlers, railroads, and U.S. military expeditions.  As buffalo diminish and the U.S. expands westward, players experience the Cheyenne’s persistence through conflict and national transformation.

And just this week, they’ve added a fourth game. Called  Read more

History Nerd Fest 2013 – Minecraft EDU and geography

Yes. It’s that time of year. National Council for the Social Studies conference time. This year? Saint Louis.

History Nerd Fest. Thousands of social studies teachers all in one place, having a great time learning as much as possible in two and half days.

I’ll be trying as best I can to live blog all of the sessions I attend. I’ll also try to align each of the sessions to my C4 Framework. Keep your fingers crossed! I’m usually pretty good for the first day or so but start dragging by Sunday.

And we’re off!

Minecraft to teach geography. Read more

Tip of the Week: SimCityEDU

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.

Read more

Gamification in education: Ya got 100 seconds?

I can still remember the exact time and place when I first realized the power of video games in education.

1986. Derby, Kansas school district. Educational Support Center. History / Social Studies stacks.

It was my first year as a teacher. School was scheduled to start in less than a week and I was looking for anything, absolutely anything, that I could use to start the year. Think back to your first year – clueless, stressed, unsure, and in my case, unplanned.

I wanted to start the semester with some sort of activity that helped kids understand not just why we studied history but how we know what we know, the process that historians use to find out what really happened. I couldn’t have articulated it at the time but I was looking for a way to teach kids historical thinking skills.

I wasn’t having much luck. Pre-world wide web and without any of my own resources, I was at the mercy of the stuff stored on Derby’s ESC history stacks. And the stacks did finally come through. I ran across a simple computer simulation simply called Archeology. Designed to run on Apple’s IIE computer, it was a turn-based game that included teacher materials, handouts, and suggestions for integrating the simulation into history instruction.

It was perfect.

Of course, I still had to find an Apple IIE computer that I could use (there were three in the entire building of 1200 students), order copies, plan lessons – you know, actually figure out how to make it work.

Basically, the game asked kids to “dig up” a square of dirt, make sense of what they dug up, and apply that information to figure out what used to be on that particular piece of land. It was a great exercise – for both kids and teacher. I begin to understand, even without knowing it at the time, that kids need to solve problems, not be given answers.

I used that game / simulation for years in a variety of ways and every time, kids were engaged, asked great questions, collaborated with others, and became better problem solvers.

Over the last five years or so, more and more research is proving what I discovered back in Derby – video games are good for kids and excellent learning tools.

I love the idea of using video games as part of education. And I’ve always said that we need to use the theory behind video game development as a way to create lesson and unit plan design.

Game developers are great believers in learning theories and brain research. They know that unless the brain is engaged in lots of different ways, people won’t play the game. If people won’t play the game, the game developers lose money. Educational game researcher James Gee in his book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Literacy & Learning says it this way:

Better theories of learning are embedded in the video games many children play than in the schools they attend.

The idea of using game theory as a way to create lessons or to use actual games as learning tools can sometimes be a bit confusing. So an infographic from the Edudemic people that came out over the weekend is incredibly useful. I love it.

Ya got 100 seconds? Check this out:

(Need even more? Browse through some of my video game stuff right here on History Tech and over at Social Studies Central.)


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