Are File Cabinets Obsolete?

     Two weeks ago I would have said they are not necessary anymore.  Today, I would not say the same thing!  About two weeks ago, our server that has our Moodle system on started acting strange and working very s-l-o-w-l-y.  It was a rickety old computer that it was housed in and we needed to update.  To give you a little background about our school: We are a MacBook air, one to one school.  Teachers have MacBook pros.  The upgrade was a disaster, the program, in the best way I can describe it- imploded, costing me all my materials, test questions and my entire classroom platform.  We are talking two days before my last chapter test and one week before my cumulative final and I have no testing platform!  The Moodle front had collapsed and I was in panic mode.  The only thing I could lean on was that file cabinet with some old tests in it.  I paper tested the French Revolution, by the way I hate checking tests manually- never liked it.  I also hate reading hand written essays!  The lesson to be learned here is that keeping paper copies of assignments and tests is not such a bad idea.  Hopefully you never have to use them, but you never know!  Now I’m off to find a new learning platform for 2nd semester.  Wish me luck, or send me some suggestions:)  Mr. Harms

American Revolution Lesson Plan

     I am excited to announce the release of a new simulation over the American Revolution. When I asked my customers what I should create next, for simulations, the majority wanted an American Revolution Lesson Plan.

     I’m always concentrating on why certain events happened in history and that’s why I started with the European Enlightenment.  The influence of Locke and Rousseau on

American Revolution Lesson Plan
Mr. Harms American Revolution Simulation

the founding fathers of our country, I felt had to be the place to start. So the first piece of the puzzle was creating a powerpoint over the enlightenment. I felt that teachers would be able to customize this presentation or use it in pieces to help students understand where these ideas came from.

    The second piece was a presentation over the American Revolution itself.  Again, I thought the teacher could use this presentation in pieces- customizing it to work best for their students.  This presentation concentrates more on the revolution and the outcome rather than a big montage on battles. A few key battles are mentioned but most of the content is on how the war got started.

    The Revolutionary War, as far as the military side of it is concerned, is a difficult task to try and simulate.  Some of the key concepts are: The Continental Army and the Militias could not consistently face the British Regulars and win battles.  Both had to be very mobile and use innovative tactics to keep the British from destroying whole armies- that is why The Continental Army, Militias and the Royalists have two zone movements compared to one zone for the British and even French armies when they enter the war.  The ratings are not in favor of the Americans-which also creates difficulty. The wilderness areas are off limits to battles so that the Continental Armies have a way to escape and out maneuver the British. There are no Naval battles, because the students would just destroy the continental Navy in our gaming scenario.  I also added the ability for armies to ambush each other. In this scenario, armies can exact a significant blow and retreat out of there quickly.

    Between the end of August and December, 9 teachers will be using the simulation in their classroom.  This simulation will not have an online component, at this time. The Simulation consists of Word and Excel documents that require Office 2016 or newer to function correctly.  Visit our website and check it out:

Civil War Highlights: The Battle of Fredericksburg

On November 6th, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States. Although no shots were fired, this was a strong, yet silent start to the American Civil War. In the simulation, as students vote for the candidate that matches their state’s political beliefs, they will begin the see the divide the elected creates. As the states began splitting into distinct sides, our country began battles, just as your students will be able to.

Many battles will take place as the simulation goes on, but a major battle of the American Civil War is the Battle of Fredericksburg. This battle became significant to the Civil War, as it had the largest concentration of soldiers out of any other battle with 200,000 men fighting. The Battle of Fredericksburg took place from the early hours of the morning on December 11th to the cold night of December 15th, 1862. Before the battle began, Ambrose Burnside replaced Major General McClellan, with reluctance, as the commander of the Army of the Potomac. The army was equipped with 120,000 men under the direction of Burnside. On the other side of the battlefield was Robert E. Lee and his Army of North Virginia.

As Robert E. Lee had his army stationed in Fredericksburg, the Union army experienced many delays. By November 19th, 1862, Burnside was in Falmouth, but the pontoons they wanted were late and heavy snowfall prevented any military action for a week. While the Union was delayed, Robert E. Lee and his soldiers had ample time to find advantageous defensive positions, establish supply lines, and even bring a 30-pound artillery piece to the field. Students in the simulation will be able to experience advantages like this with the Northern Industry and Railroad.

On December 11th, in the early hours of the morning, Ambrose ordered his troops to assemble their pontoon bridges and cross the Rappahannock River. Burnside believed the speed and surprise would bring success for the Union. Although his plan was hopeful, it backfired as Brigadier General William Barksdale’s Mississippians shot at the Union soldiers that were trying to assemble their pontoons. Burnside retaliated against the Mississippians, and by mid-afternoon, several Union soldiers had finally managed to drive Barksdale’s troops out of town. The Union soldiers were finally able to build their pontoons.

Finally, on December 12th, Union soldiers crossed the Rappahannock River. Lee’s soldiers were defending themselves in a seven-mile long curving line with Longstreet’s corps on the left along Marye’s Heights, and Stonewall Jackson’s corps near Prospect Hill. Once Burnside’s soldiers cross the Rappahannock, they began a two-pronged attack and hit Longstreet and Jackson’s flanks. Along with Burnside, Major General Franklin attacked Longstreet’s men while Major General Sumner hit Jackson’s. In a critical misstep, Burnside gave ambiguous orders to Franklin and Sumner on the morning of the 13th, instead of after their meeting on the 12th. Major General Franklin was unaware of how forceful her was supposed to attack the south of the sent, and only sent the 1st corps to work past the southern Confederate line. The Confederates delayed the Union advance as they had miscalculated.

The Union did not succeed anymore, and this became a major turning point for the Confederates, as they were outnumbered. The Union soldiers were able to slowly advance on Jackson’s position, but weren’t coordinated enough to finish the attack, and ended up retreating. Divisions of Union soldiers attempted to make it to Marye’s Heights, but were devastated with artillery fire time and time again. After Union soldiers retreated into the night, the Confederates stood victorious. Their morale soared after the battle while the Union soldiers, for they were outnumbered but still prevailed. The Union soldiers, who were already less than confident after Burnside was replaced with McClellan, left feeling low and unsuccessful.

Is learning history through simulation games online enough?

What if I told you there were seven different ways of learning? Although that may seem like a very large number, it is true. There are seven different ways of learning, each one different from the next. The seven different ways include visual learning (through pictures and imagines), auditory (through sound and music), verbal (through words, both in writing and speech), kinesthetic (through body, hands, and sense of touch), logical (through logic and reasoning), social (through learning in groups or with other people), and solitary (through working along and using self-study). Like I said before, each of these learning types are different from the next and each bring forth a different way of learning things.

Everyone knows what type of learning style is best for them. Whether that be through flashcards, reading over text or listening to something being read aloud, we all know what works for us. But I believe is it imperative to know and be able to learn through different methods. By being able to learn in different ways, that may better help a student understand and have the ability to better adapt to the different teaching styles that each of their teachers may present. Mr. Harms does just this through the History Simulation Games.

The History Simulator that Mr. Harms has designed presents students with a creative and whole new way of learning history. Anyone can read about a war in a textbook, take some notes, and understand the basic concepts enough to get a passing grade. But the History Simulation Games takes that student who does just enough to get by and puts them in a situation where they have to think, interact, and strategize to win a war. The History Simulator that Mr. Harms designed challenges students to learned in not just one of the seven ways but in all of the seven ways. Now I can imagine what you are thinking, how is it possible to have one game but seven different ways of learning? Through the History Simulation Games, it is possible. Students use the visual way of learning to look at the interactive war maps, seeing the change that happens in each country as the war progresses. Students use the auditory way of learning when Mr. Harms stands up at the beginning of class and gives an announcement. For example, during WWII, Mr. Harms took time at the beginning of class to read the Zimmermann note. Students had to listen to what was said and then think how that might affect their country or their strategy to win the war. Verbal learning is also done through the simulations because students are required to write a summary of what their country did each day, challenging them to know how to effectively communicate their thoughts. There is one simulation, the Imperialism Simulation, that students use the kinesthetic way of learning. Students take turns rolling dice for their country in order to obtain their objectives. Logical learning is a very large part of the History Simulation Games because students have to know how their moves will affect what happens in the future, not only with their country but all the other countries involved in the war. The social and solitary types of learning are done through the simulations by having to direct what a country does by yourself but then having to communicate with the other countries who are fighting on the same side as you. For example Germany has to be able to communicate the Axis Powers during WWII.

Now although the History Simulations many not replace the textbook and note taking type of learning, the Simulations provide students with the ability to use the seven different types of learning. With the History Simulation Games, students get the opportunity to learn about world history in a new way and without realizing it, the students are learning how to communicate and challenge themselves to learn in a new way each and every day.

For Teachers: Tips On How You Can Make World War 1 Lessons Fun

Are you getting ready to dust off your old World War 1 Lesson Plans for another round of teaching the Great War? How many years have you used this lesson? Are you going to be excited to come to school to teach it? Are your students going to be excited to come to your class to learn about World War I? The answers are probably no to both. If you’re not excited it’s fairly easy to predict that students won’t be excited either.

History Simulation Gaming

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for students to experience the First World War instead of just listening to you talk about it? has created some very hands on lesson plan activities that are designed to increase student engagement and create student interest in World War 1. Students are assigned the roles of leaders of countries involved in the 1st World War. Each country has a standing army and a schedule of reserves that are activated by mobilization. Some countries even have navies that can do battle with other navies and can transport troops from one region to another. Now you might ask: how does this not just turn into a quest for world domination or a game of Risk? Each country has a set of objectives that were the objectives of those countries in World War 1. The objectives are part of the student’s grades! Students are constantly negotiating and conducting diplomacy with other countries based on their strategy to achieve those objectives. With’s online platforms, a lot of these tasks are automated like mobilizing troops, calculation of sea and land battles. Troops and navies are represented by numbers and the country’s flags on the map. The teacher can move troops into a zone and double click on the zone- activating the battle.

When the simulation ends, student interest is a lot higher as to what actually happened in the war. The discussion is better and more engaged. also has a complete set of Keynote and PowerPoint presentations that get students engaged in learning. I don’t think you can underestimate the impact that getting students interested in a subject has. In February of 2018, using periods 1-5 of my World History sections at IFAHS i can show you the comparison of scores and the factors related to them. In the previous unit, we studied 2 sections of Ch. 24 “Nationalist Revolutions Sweep The West”. We followed that up with the World War 1 Simulation. When the simulation was over, we studied what really happened in the war, going over 4 sections of Chapter 29 “The Great War”. So we are talking about covering twice as much material on the test! You can see the results in the chart and decide for yourself if participating in a simulation increased learning:

Why and how to teach kids about World War 1

World War I or otherwise known as the War to End All Wars, started in July, 1914 and ended in November, 1918. But it would not end just there. This was just the beginning to a long journey of reform and recovery. World War I started when a Serbian terrorist, Gavrilo Princip, shot an Austro-Hungarian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, Bosnia. How could one single loss of life, have such a global impact? This is what kids need to know.

Many were shocked when the start of the war broke out. It seemed to just come “out of the blue.” But was that really the case? Some believe that the seed of war was planted long before that. So what is an effective way to educate kids on the timeline of events and the war itself? This is where the World War I lesson plans come into play. Rather than having kids funneled into a classroom listening to lectures, taking notes off a screen, and reading chapter after chapter in a dull textbook, why not create small scale reenactment? Fortunately enough, that has already been done.

The World War I simulation is similar to that of a game. It includes events, stories, and challenges that were faced within the timeline, similar to the real life event. The main focus of the simulation is the interactive map that is projected for the whole class, in which the teacher controls. The map allows the students to see their country, plus others as well. The map is color coordinated to show who is allied with each other and who is neutral, also showing each countries number of troops.

Throughout the simulation the students are informed to the very last day of the war what they are supposed to accomplish. Students, usually in pairs, are assigned to a specific country. The kids are then given a binder with a set of rules, guides for their army, information specific to their given country, and a list of goals to complete before the last round of the simulation. Kids are not only expected to be active in the simulation in class, by participating in the rounds, but they are also expected to do a bit of their own research outside of class.

The students should be doing their own research outside of class to have knowledge of the real life event. When the kids do this it gives them the upper hand in the simulation and by having background knowledge you know what you should be trying to do and avoid, similar to that of the real life event. Rather than just going in blind and being completely lost. Kids are also required to keep a daily journal of their information/findings, what happened within the simulation that day, and their own thoughts and feelings regarding the simulation.

History Simulation Gaming

The World War I lesson plan is meant to be an interesting and interactive time in the classroom. It allows for students to have a healthy amount of competition and fun, while still learning the importance of the topic. When simulation time rolls around the corner, not only does it get the class excited about the upcoming unit, but the whole school is on the edge of their seats to hear about the events taking place. Simulation time is fun for all students and something everyone looks forward to.

Learning about the key events of World War 1 online

How often to students sit at their desks, reading out of a textbook, jotting down key ideas and phrases? This form of education may work well for some topics but how can you get students more involved when teaching them World History? Each topic the students are learning about took place in the past and there are not many ways for students to become actively involved in the study of history when it seems so distant. Thanks to online games and simulations, students are able to take a virtual walk into the world of history and the past.

One major war many students touch base on is World War I. This global conflict began in July 1914. This particular war lasted nearly four years, ending in November of 1918. The start of the war was because Serbia no longer wanted to be a part of the Austrian Empire; they would rather be free. Because of this, a Serbian acted rebelliously, assassinating the Austrian Archduke; this was the first shot of World War I. After the death of their king, Austria wanted revenge on Serbia and threatened war. In order to protect Serbia, Russia stepped in and threatened war on Austria; Russia was acting as the ‘big brother’ to Serbia. Since the war between Austria and Russia was possible, this got Germany involved because of their previous alliance with the Austrians. Russia also had a treaty with France, and this treaty is what brought Germany into war with France and later England. The entire continent of Europe was soon caught up in a terribly violent war, with nearly every country eventually getting sucked into it. Once the war began, the entire world eventually became involved; it was a domino effect. Trench Warfare came to be the main type of warfare during World War I; it was extremely bloody and ended up in a complete and utter stalemate on the border between France and Germany.

Participating in an online simulation may help students, as well as professors and teachers, gain a better understanding of complex events such as World War I. Not only do they become more involved, but the relationships between events become more real if you can act it out or somehow become more engaged. Since this war happened so long ago, it is easier for the students to act as a country themselves, as in a game simulation. In doing this, the students get a chance to see what each nation was individually responsible for–who did what and why did they take this action as opposed to doing something else. World War I was a very complex historical event with lots of ins and outs, and lots of blame assigned to different countries after it was all over. A classroom game simulation can make it easier for students to grasp the smaller topics as well. Reading out of a textbook can give one a broad overview, but it may not be as beneficial to learning the little details the make the event more important and allow students to relate to it better. In the end, online or in-class games allow everyone to get more involved which in turn helps them learn and remember the material much easier.

3 Interesting Ways To Teach Kids through Civil War unit plan

The Civil War started in April, 1861 and ended in May, 1865. This is the allotted time frame that the Civil War Unit Plan simulation gives. The purpose of the simulation is to give kids a better understanding of the events that took place in the Civil War in a more engaging and interesting way. During the reenactment simulation, it will have a similar feel of a board game. Each side will have a turn or “round” where during that time they can make their next move. During the course of the simulation be prepared to encounter many obstacles. You will be expected to have knowledge about your given side before the simulation starts. This is very important that you know what actually took place in the real life event. The knowledge is not only very helpful, but will insure a higher percent of success for your given side in the simulation. So brush up on some facts!

Typically in the simulation, each day is a year of the war. For example, Day 1 of the simulation would be 1861 and Day 2 would be 1862. This is an important part to understand, the days move quickly and you only have so much time to complete your objectives. However, if you use your allotted time wisely, you will have no problem completing them. Your objectives are basically a set of goals that your given side has to accomplish within the time of the simulation. Certain objectives will have to be completed in a specific year, while others you have until the last year of the war. It is also very important that you keep your objectives a secret. Your set will be different than the opposing sides. Treat them as top secret documents and if leaked, the opposing side will do all it takes to keep you from completing them. So pay close attention to your set! Read all things carefully.. Completing objectives is the key to ensuring a good grade. So make a valid attempt to fulfill them.

You will also be expected to keep a journal of your daily accomplishments in the simulation. This means that anything you do during that day will need to be recorded. Such as, your plans for war, what you plan to do the following year, what moves the opposing side made against you, the objectives you completed during that day and how you did it. This needs to be a detailed journal and include strategy. These journals are meant to help you keep track of what you did throughout the simulation and also provide proof for your teacher that you are putting in worthy effort. Single sentence journals will not do, a solid paragraph or more is required. This is another vital part of your grade.

The simulation itself is wild and intense. Kids really get into it once they have an understanding of the process. With new twists, turns, and different problems arising daily students can get quite competitive. The atmosphere of the classroom changes within a few short rounds of the simulation. The Civil War Unit Plan simulation is a great way to get the students interested for the new upcoming unit. It also allows them to have experience and a little knowledge of the topic before doing the reading about it. So remember, be strategic and may the best side win!

Why should you consider Civil War map activities for your kids?

Instead of lecturing your students about the American Civil War or showing them another boring PowerPoint, you should consider hands on, Civil War Activities. How much more excited and engaged would your students be if they were participating in history, rather than just learning facts about it. Probably the most important thing to learn about the American Civil War is the reason it started and the circumstances leading up to the first shots being fired on Fort Sumter. With the American Civil War Simulation, your students get to make the critical choices that were faced by Grant and Lee, Lincoln and Davis in the Civil War.

One of the benefits of doing a Civil War Map Activity is how students develop an understanding of where geographic landmarks are and locations of states as well. As kids pour over the maps, they strategize and work within the geographical limitations of their particular situation/state on the map. Constantly working over strategy and developing plans builds a template in their minds as to where things are: oceans, seas and mountains to name a few. This also helps create a relationship to the reasons certain strategies were used in the war.

What really drives simulations like this are the objectives that each student has. Students are playing roles of leaders of states and have to make decisions based on ever-changing circumstances. Because other students in the classroom are trying to achieve the same objectives or stop others from completing their objectives. This interaction between students creates a lot of substantive conversations, not only between students but also with teachers and parents.

The role that natural resources played in the Civil War cannot be overstated. With the Northern states having their own supplies of resources, the Southern States did not have them. This forced the South to get resources from overseas from European countries. Withe the United States Navy firmly in the hands of the Union, a naval blockade will severely cripple the Confederacy’s ability to gain the resources they need. Unlike many Civil War Activities, this one takes the logistics of conducting a war into account. With a Civil War Map Activity, geography plays the role it did in the real War. Access to railroads is another logistical problem that had a huge impact on the war and again a problem the South had to deal with. Inside the Northern territories was vast railroad network linking all the Northern states together. This made the transport of troops, supplies and war materials faster and more efficient. The new, online platform makes the teacher’s job much more streamlined and gives them time to observe and interact with students.

In conclusion, if your looking to get your students engaged, then using Civil War Activities are the way to a more interactive classroom and a dynamic learning environment.

5 Stunning Facts About Civil War For Kids

North or South. Union or Confederate. Freedom or slavery. What do all of these things have in common? You guessed it…the American Civil War. The American Civil War start was in 1861 lasted until 1865. The United States was divided between North and South and a war was fought all across the United States. The journal, “Live The Adventure,” says that there are three main reasons why the Civil War is something very important for kids to understand. The first of the three reasons is that the Civil War was perhaps the greatest event in our country’s history. It is believed to be one of the single most important events because it completely reshaped our nation. America was divided between the North and the South, the biggest difference between the two “sides” being the practice of slavery. But according to the “Live The Adventure” journal, the second reason kids need to know the events of the Civil War is to understand that the Civil War was not only about slavery. When most people think of the Civil War, they think of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Yes, this was a very important and key feature of the Civil War but the conflict of the Civil War did not start because of slavery but rather because of states wanting stronger federal rights and then becoming increasingly angry they were not gaining those rights. When the North wanted to abolish slavery, that is when each territory, North and South, really started to become angry. This anger lead to the start of the Civil War. The third reason that the knowing the Civil War for kids is important is because it gives us an insight as how beliefs and convictions motivate people. As a kid learning about the Civil War, I would always question why so many people had to die at the expense of a disagreement. By studying the Civil War, I have come to understand the role that beliefs and convictions can make when fighting a war. Understanding what caused the Civil War to happen provides many, children and adults, with a deeper understanding of how to better avoid the things that lead to such a divide in our nation.
Once the three main reasons as to why learning the Civil War is something that is imperative to understand is understood, we can look at the true history of the Civil War and even come to understand some stunning facts about it.

One interesting fact about the Civil War was that one-third of the soldiers that fought for the Union Army were immigrants and every one in ten was African American. During the Civil War, the African American soldiers fighting with the North actually refused their salaries for 18 full months in an effort to protest being paid lower wages than that of the white soldiers. The Union Army was fighting for freedom and equality of the slaves being kept in the South, usually African Americans and yet, they refused to pay their soldiers equal amounts. I think that this is another example of the third reason as to why learning the Civil War is important. Seeing that there was still segregation in the North, even when those soldiers were fighting to abolish that, shows us what beliefs and convictions about certain people can do. Another surprising fact about the Civil War is that even before the war started, Abraham Lincoln pushed to send freed slaves abroad. Even before the push to free the slaves, Lincoln was pushing to free the slaves. But because of the push to free the slaves and territorial disagreements, a war swept the United States. Another surprising fact about this war is that more men died in the Civil war than any other American conflict. That includes WWI, WWII, Vietnam War, etc. Knowing and understanding what happened during the Civil War is a very important thing to learn. By understanding, we as a nation, can better avoid any conflicts within our country that would lead to something like this.