Create a Classroom Simulation in Four Steps

At the end of the year, teachers usually need some new ideas to freshen things up in the classroom. This blog post walks you through how to create a classroom simulation, which is a great activity for high school social studies classes. Click through to learn more about implementing class simulations in your secondary classroom!

We are now FOUR weeks away from summer vacation. I find myself tired, irritable, and all around unpleasant. My students obviously feel the same way. They were super angry the other day when I had them for three hours (during end of course testing) and decided to have class as usual. They said we needed a movie--I said we needed content.

At this point in the year, this clip perfectly sums up how my students and I are feeling:


I want to entertain them--I do, and I am really tired myself, but my job is to teach them the history of the world, and we're not finished, so we have to keep going. The trick this time of the year is to find easy to implement activities that engage to keep us all from going crazy. So far this year, I've written about making discussions more engaging and speed drawing.

Here is another way to help you keep your sanity and still teach the content in the weeks leading up to summer break with Simple Spring Engagement #4:

Create a Classroom Simulation in Four Steps

At the end of the year, teachers usually need some new ideas to freshen things up in the classroom. This blog post walks you through how to create a classroom simulation, which is a great activity for high school social studies classes. Click through to learn more about implementing class simulations in your secondary classroom!
Most of us have tried simulations at one point or another. Simulations are basically role-playing in order for students to better understand a concept or an event. At the end of the year, when telling is even less effective than usual, this is an especially useful strategy. 

There are really no rules for simulations, but I've found that most effective simulations have four parts (download the template [for free] to help you plan HERE):

1. A Goal
2. A Situation
3. An Activity
4. A Debrief 

I'll use as an example a very basic simulation I do each year when introducing the Enlightenment in world history. It's a part of my Enlightenment and Revolution Interactive Notebook. And it's super basic.

Goal:
I want my students to understand the difference between reason and logic. We've already discussed how classical scholars used logic to make sense of the world (think Plato and Aristotle).

Situation:
I tell them that it's very important for them to understand the message I am about to send. To raise the stakes, I offer XP (experience points for my gamified classroom, but candy works just as well) to any student who gets the message right.

Activity:
On a miniature whiteboard, I write a message. It can be anything, but it needs to contain some type of
At the end of the year, teachers usually need some new ideas to freshen things up in the classroom. This blog post walks you through how to create a classroom simulation, which is a great activity for high school social studies classes. Click through to learn more about implementing class simulations in your secondary classroom!
error that the mind won't usually catch on a quick read, such as, "1st period id the best," or "1st period is the the best." You get the idea.

I hold the whiteboard up for a second only. Then I ask, "Who knows what the message is?" Several students are generally close. They say, "1st period is the best."

I say, "Nope."

They insist. Sometimes, a random student will get it right--then they get the XP. I then hold the board up for longer and let what it says actually sink in.

They say, "That's stupid," or "That's not fair," or "That doesn't make any sense."

At the end of the year, teachers usually need some new ideas to freshen things up in the classroom. This blog post walks you through how to create a classroom simulation, which is a great activity for high school social studies classes. Click through to learn more about implementing class simulations in your secondary classroom!
Debrief:
We discuss why it's not fair and why it doesn't make sense. I then tell them that that's the difference between reason and logic. 

"People generally have ten toes, so it makes sense that Mary Jane has ten toes, but how can we find out for sure?" I ask.

"Have her take off her shoes," they answer.

"And what if we find out she has nine toes? Logic is what makes sense, ten toes--reason is what is, nine toes. It's not logical that the earth is moving because I'm standing still, but we all know that the earth is moving. We use our reason to test logic."

Then they are ready to discuss the Scientific Method and Revolution and the Enlightenment. 

How do you implement simulations in your classroom? Leave a comment below to let me know. And don't forget to download the planning template. ALSO be sure to check out this free simulation that's ready to go for your classroom:

Social Institutions: Electoral College Simulation and Reflection
Download HERE


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