Today you are going to a time of unrest and revolt, filled with angry mobs carrying flaming torches. The ones who make it out alive, win.
Choose your colonial identity. These are real people who lived in Boston in 1773. You each have your own house and family – spouse, children, and other family members. You can see your job and how many pounds you earn a year. Your whole team lives on the same street – it’s a real street in colonial Boston, and you can find it on that real map from 1776. Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
First you’ll choose a representative to speak for your group. It’s important to find someone who will make sure everyone’s voice is heard. You’ll be facing three life and death decisions today, and it won’t be clear what is the right answer…or if there even is a right answer. You’ll need the combined thinking power of every member of your team if you hope to survive the difficult times that are coming.
Here we are in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony. What’s it like here in Boston? Let’s hear a letter from a young lady who recently arrived in this port city.
So begins our Time Travel Field Trip to 1773. It’s unlike any history lecture, textbook or presentation you’ve ever seen. Why?
First of all, it’s incredibly engaging. History is so often taught as a fait accompli, something where the conclusion is already known, something that happened a long time ago to other people.
This is different.
- Students face real decisions from the time, and feel the effects of the consequences on themselves, their families, and their friends. It makes history immediate, urgent, and emotionally compelling.
- Students are not hearing about events from someone else. They live it themselves, which makes it memorable.
- There’s an element of chance. In addition to group decisions, every individual student experiences real events from the time, chosen after extensive historical research. Dice rolls determine if the student will experience the (usually horrible, because that’s just so much more interesting) consequences. They hold their breath, blow on the dice, and cheer or groan at their results.
Depth of knowledge:
- Students hear directly from the past at appropriate points in the game. Primary sources are woven into letters from the past and shared both in writing, and in movie form (using pictures and images from the time). They are always linked to what the students are about to face. After all, you care a lot more about what it was like on Griffin’s Wharf when it’s your team that has chosen to climb aboard the tea ships and dump all the tea into the harbor.
- Someone once said the devil is in the details. I think the opposite is true. To feel like you are standing in the dewy grass of Lexington Green at dawn, facing down crack professional soldiers with your old granddad’s musket, you need the little details of daily life that make history a foreign country.
- It’s what you have to teach anyway. Before beginning three months of historical research, I looked at the current Colorado standards, and built from there. The pre and post-test, the decisions and events in the game, everything directly teaches your history curriculum for you.
- Higher-level thinking is engaged when students have to think through the ethics and opportunity costs of real and complex decisions.
- Students learn essential background knowledge through Reader’s Theater using short comics and plays.
- So easy and fun to prepare and teach, it’ll actually take things off your plate. (*gasp!*) You might even have free time to go to the gym or relax with a book.
- Everything you need to know is included as you go – no long background information to read and prepare.
- Included movies engage students and make your job even easier.
- Included options for differentiation help all your students succeed.
Causes of the American Revolution focuses on:
- Why were people already angry by the time the Tea Act was passed in 1773?
- Using modern analogies to help students understand why legislative and tax laws so infuriated people they were willing to hang people in effigy and shoot randomly out of second-story buildings into the crowd. (I know they’ve gotten it when they gasp in outrage.)
- The Boston Tea Party.
- The Intolerable Acts.
- Choose to be a Patriot, Loyalist, or Undecided.
- Lexington and Concord.
- Why people wrote – and some signed – the Declaration of Independence.
- Choose if you personally want to sign the Declaration of Independence.
- Understand all these events from multiple points of view.