Will Ogle, Teacher, Avalon Elementary SchoolGAMES IN K-6, 7-12

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The Social Studies Simulation at Avalon Elementary School

When students walk into our classrooms the first day of school there is a date on the board that reads 1492. And every single school day the date changes, and flows through the years. Each day in our classrooms is a different year or event or theme that occurred through our American story. By the final week of school, it’s 2022. We teach through simulated conversations, debates, strategic decisions, the analyzation of historic literature and the breakdown of primary sources throughout American History. Everything we teach our students is so important and so relevant. We discuss and debate Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and in the late 1800s the way America became a land of refugees and a place where refugees of the entire world could come to make a better life. These are ten year olds having these discussions. And they get every bit of it.

I run the Social Studies simulation with five other 5th grade teachers. The ELA team of Susan Cragin, Joe Brown and myself lead the simulation as much of our reading and writing instruction comes from historical based texts and primary sources. Kory Thibodaux, Wayne Muse and Thai-An Truong are our STEM team. They assist in the simulation as well running it throughout their classes, in particular in math as they complete many of their standards using problems related to the Social Studies daily situations. This includes problems like calculating the cost of tea that was thrown in Boston Harbor or the amount of money that vanished when the Stock Market crashed in 1929.

I type a newspaper for our students every school day. They celebrate great moments. Many times, I know this sounds crazy, but students are brought to tears as emotions run high during stressful situations. We discuss how emotions are powerful and good, and even times of despair can move us in positive ways. Although nothing is “real,” you’d think it all was. We use the educational media site Edmodo, where students talk and discuss ideas on a nightly basis with Harriet Tubman, Alexander Hamilton, Ronald Reagan or Teddy Roosevelt, all who have accounts on Edmodo and are a part of the continuing story. Students leave the classroom still talking, still discussing, still strategizing as to how to do better the next day. Our simulation never really ends, even as each day of school concludes. The students are completely immersed in what they are doing, and we get to spend our days in our classrooms discussing the ideas of visionaries, holding protest rallies, analyzing political strategies, exploring the frontiers of tomorrow, staging massive boycotts, leading revolutions for independence and of course, standing up for what we believe is the right thing to do. Our students are America. Our students learn to love America.

Attendee Benefits:

Our ultimate goal as teachers is to inspire our students. And we feel that if we can create an environment in which the students want to learn about what they are studying, they cannot help, but flourish. Our Social Studies simulation is not just about giving our 140 5th graders an educational adventure that they will always remember, but it is also designed to open their minds and hopefully allow them to see our world in a different way than they ever have before. When they leave our halls, they are ready to take on the world, and lead.

Wed 12:00 am - 12:00 am