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    Why Use Simulations to Teach History?

    It is essential to take advantage of eighth graders’ desire for creative engagement and interaction. Learning history by doing history does just that. Besides, 13 and 14-year-olds are naturally apt to favor activity over passivity, are prone to debate, are attracted to innovation and discovery-based learning.  Simulations play to these strengths.  Furthermore, history comes alive when it is paired with a challenging goal: Win the game! 

    Simulations done right are essentially educational games with clear, ongoing, and fluid-yet-rules-bound components and features.  

    Simulations provide daily opportunities for students to find something interesting in history. To this end, every turn (which corresponds to one year) covers politics, economics, math, culture and society, geography, science and technology, and conflict. 

    Simulations provide seamless opportunities for learning the value of other subjects.  The simulations I have created for this course are
    interdisciplinary to the core, as the following objectives demonstrate:  

    -      Students will develop an appreciation for the complexities of colonial life in British North America

    -      Students will gain an understanding of the global, geo-political trends and issues driving the development of said colonies

    -      Students will continually grapple with social issues and evaluate their connection(s) to modern iterations/manifestations of the same

    -      Students will experience and discover developments in the arts which serve to broaden a sense of connectivity to the past

    -      Students will be able to identify scientific and technological advancements that help them to differentiate different historic eras and to broaden their personal sense of connectivity to the past

    -      Students must conduct significant research in order to be successful in the game

    -      Students will engage in simulated buying, selling, trading, investing, resource development, and accounting in order to experience the mercantile system

    -      Students will make use of and have daily interaction with relevant geography

    -      Students will abide by and value clear procedures that sustain the game, as well as regular and ongoing activities designed to reinforce prior learning

    -      Students will be able to relate, compare and contrast colonial era ideas with their own modern experiences

    -      Students will be continually challenged to think innovatively to deal with events that are essentially unavoidable.  In this way they will also learn how and why colonial Americans survived and thrived

    -      Students will come to appreciate the input of others, as dialog and teamwork on a variety of topics is required to meet the goals of the game

    In my experience this approach does justice to the complexity, variety and interconnectivity of the early American experience. 

    Dare I say simulations are a fun and memorable way to learn American History? Absolutely.   

    An Outline of the History Covered in this Course

    Colonial North America, 1607–1754
    -European competition for land and natural resources in the western hemisphere
    -Transatlantic trade and the growth of seaports
    -The development and influence of Mercantilism on British North America
    -The development of the 13 North American British colonies, 1733-1776
    -The influence of the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening on American colonial life
    -Colonial governments and imperial policy in British North America

    The American Revolutionary Era, 1754–1789
    -The French and Indian War and its political, economic and cultural consequences
    -The end of Home Rule in British North America, resistance to Britain
    -The War for Independence
    -State Constitutions and the Articles of Confederation
    -Shay's Rebellion
    -The federal Constitution and Bill of Rights

    The Early Republic, 1789–1815
    -Washington, Hamilton, and the shaping of the national government
    -The emergence of political parties: Federalists and Democratic-Republicans
    -Beginnings of the Second Great Awakening
    -Significance of Jefferson’s presidency
    -Expansion into the trans-Appalachian West
    -Growth of slavery and free Black communities
    -The War of 1812 and its consequences

    The Transformation of Politics, Economics,  Society and Culture in Antebellum America
    -The transportation revolution and creation of a national market economy
    -The new industrialization
    -The second wave of European Immigration
    -Planters, yeoman farmers, and slaves in the South
    -Judicial federalism, the Bank War, the tariff controversy, and the states’ rights debate
    -Jacksonian democracy--its successes and limitations
    -Evangelical Protestant revivalism, the social reform movements and social utopia experiments
    -The development of uniquely American literature, art and music

    Territorial Expansion and Manifest Destiny
    -The Missouri Compromise
    -Forced removal of American Indians to the trans-Mississippi West
    -Western migration and cultural interactions
    -Territorial acquisitions and assimilation
    -Early U.S. imperialism: the Mexican War

    Federalism in Crisis
    -Pro and antislavery arguments and conflicts
    -The rise of virulent sectionalism
    -Compromise of 1850 and popular sovereignty
    -The Kansas–Nebraska Act and the emergence of the Republican Party