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Why Use History Simulations?
By David Harms
Interactive Lesson Plans

   If I was asked the question: “If you could use one word to describe why a teacher should use simulations in the History classroom what would it be?  The answer would be “engagement”.  I think when teachers see their students are engaged in an activity and interested in it, a lot more learning occurs.  It’s the difference between assigning them something and they just try to get it done and them wanting to do something.  This may seem like a small shift in attitude, but when I’m interested in finding out something, I find it a lot more enjoyable then when I’m assigned to do something I’m not interested in.

   When students are involved in the World War One Simulation, which is their first exposure to this type of lesson plan, they initially are a little overwhelmed by the mechanics, but it doesn’t take them long and they are totally engaged.  In fact, many have commented that it takes over their whole life!  They are negotiating and planning strategy at home, in the halls and at lunch.  Lunch can be a tense situation as friendships part momentarily along the Alliances. “You can’t sit here, this is a Central Powers Table!”  Some teachers don’t like the fact that my class is being discussed during theirs.  After doing this for twenty years, I am still amazed at the amount of critical thinking going on and the creative strategies they come up with to try and complete their objectives. 
I am thankful that I work in a school that encourages me to take risks and try new things.

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