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.
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!