Friday, September 19, 2014

Incorporating Games into the Social Studies Classroom

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.
For the last year, I have been advocating to anyone who will listen the idea of incorporating games into the classroom.  After quite a bit of negotiation, I was able to get my county coordinator to purchase a number of games for my entire social studies department to use this current school year.  I thought the hardest part was going to be finding the funds for the purchase, however, now I believe it is getting members of the department to actually use the games. 

As I have written before, any and all games can be incorporated into the classroom.  Remember, teachers who incorporate board games into the classroom do more than teach a standard for one day.  A cooperative board game can be used not just to gain historical knowledge but also for the simple benefit of playing a game. 

The games chosen for the department were based on course, easy playability, and at least one game for each semester.  Each course received at least two games—one for fall semester, and one for the spring semester. 

As this is a new venture—utilizing board games across the entire social studies department, I will be blogging about our journey.  I am hopeful that this will be a positive good and that the games will achieve a solid benefit for all students.  So, as we start this journey, here are the games we chose to start with. 

For Geography, we chose Pandemic and The Resistance.  In Pandemic, students in Geography and AP Human Geography must work together to stop the spread of four diseases that have broken out and are spread around the world.  This game not only hits a key unit in Geography dealing with pandemics, but also just playing the game forces students to use map skills in order to play.  In The Resistance, students play a group of resistance fighters fighting against a powerful and corrupt government.  

World History
For World History, we chose Guillotine and Carcassonne.  Guillotine is a quick and easy card game that takes place during the French Revolution.  In the game, players represent rival represent rival guillotine operators vying for the best collection of noble heads over three days (rounds).  Carcassonne is a quick and easy tile-laying game. The game takes place in the southern French city of Carcassonne, but the theme can be easily incorporated into any town building area—medieval England or Manifest Destiny in the US.  Players will develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their Meeples (followers) on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters, and in the fields. 

US History
For US History, we chose three games: Founding Fathers, Freedom-The Underground Railroad, and Article 27: The United Nations Security Council Game.  In Founding Fathers, students will recreate the constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  Freedom-The Underground Railroad is a cooperative game in which players assume the roles of important historical Abolitionist characters pitted against the slave economy from the early 1800's thru the Civil War. Players succeed together by balancing their actions between raising funds for the Abolitionist cause and helping runaway slaves move from the Southern States to freedom in Canada.  Article 27 takes place in the not-too-distant future and players assume the role of one of the permanent members of the Security Council.  As such, players have the power of the veto and no proposal can pass when a member uses their veto.  As such, players take turns as the leader of the Security Council and try to get a proposal passed.  Negotiations can include side-deals, threats, or out-right influence-peddling. 

For Government, the games chosen were Puerto Rico and 7 Wonders.  In Puerto Rico, players utilize different roles-mayor, captain, settler, trader, prospector, craftsman, or builder to score the most victory points with their colony. Players can act on every turn of the game, allowing them to choose between shipping goods for points or building an impressive city. Players must manage their colonists, erect a variety of buildings, build up their plantation, and sell or ship goods.  In 7 Wonders, players lead an ancient civilization as it rises from its barbaric roots to become a world power. Players will lead troops to a military victory or create a nation of artisans and philosophers. Establish a powerful merchant state or master the mysteries of science and technology. Build an architectural wonder that will fascinate for eons to come, and rule the most powerful civilization on Earth!

AP Psychology
For AP Psychology, we chose One Night Ultimate Werewolf, The Resistance: Coup, and Psychopoly.  In One Night Ultimate Werewolf everyone gets to be a different role. In the course of only one night and the following morning, the players will determine who among them is a werewolf...hopefully.  In the Resistance: Coup, the government is run for profit by a new "royal class" of multi-national CEOs. Their greed and absolute control of the economy has reduced all but a privileged few to lives of poverty and desperation. Out of the oppressed masses rose The Resistance, an underground organization focused on overthrowing these powerful rulers. The valiant efforts of The Resistance have created discord, intrigue and weakness in the political courts of the novena royal, bringing the government to brink of collapse. But for you, a powerful government official, this is your opportunity to manipulate, bribe and bluff your way into absolute power.  Psychopoly is a psychology themed based version of monopoly. Each of the property cards belong to a famous historical psychologist and they include background information about the property owner.

*All product descriptions are from the manufacturer.



Friday, September 5, 2014

August 2014 Games of the Week

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

The Histocrats support the idea of incorporating board-games into your personal life as well as in the classroom.  As such, we support and participate in a local board-gaming group.  Any and all board-game enthusiasts are welcome to join the Game Nights that are held every first and third Friday night of the month.  As part of our gaming group initiative, we also recommend history centric games that are fun to play each week to all of our followers.  The selected games receive our “Game of the Week” distinction.  Recommended games are a mix of cooperative, card games, as well Euro style games.

Spurs: A Tale in the Old West, Mr. B Games
Players take turns moving around the main board, carrying out classic activities of the Old West, like taking on cattle-herding jobs or engaging in horse-breaking; if you are good at riding, you might end up with a nice stallion to sell! Gunslingers can go searching for wanted outlaws in the badlands or take on jobs to escort stagecoaches or deal with a gang of Desperados. Hunters will seek out wildlife in the forests (be careful as some animals might hunt you instead), while others might seek fortune by searching for gold in the mountains or gambling in the town saloons. Be careful, though, as you never know when other players will challenge you to a duel and try to rob you.

Kingdom Builder, Queen Games
Players create their own kingdoms by skillfully building their settlements, aiming to earn the most gold at the end of the game. Build an engine to control more tiles, which give access to more abilities -- which help you earn more gold.

Constantinopolis, Fantasy Flight Games
Can you become the most famous trader in Constantinopolis? Effectively build up your trade district to produce goods, generate money, and earn fame points to ensure that your name stands above the rest!

Bora Bora Strategy Board Game, Ravensburger
Stake your fortunes in the mysterious island world of Bora Bora. Journey across islands, building huts where the resilient men and women of your tribes can settle, discovering fishing grounds and collecting shells. Send priests to the temples, and gather offerings to curry favor with the gods. The player who best watches how the game develops and uses the most effective strategy will prevail.

*All product descriptions are from the manufacturer.