I took over my current history department from Ian Luff who has written and spoken regularly about the power of role plays and simulations in the history classroom. I was a convert from the first time I heard him speak. I’m sure I’m not alone either in having being inspired by the work of the likes of Ian Dawson and Dan Moorhouse. Suffice to say that I now have a very fat file of activities of varying complexity which always go down well with classes from Y7 to Y13. There are also some engaging on-line history games at sites like SchoolHistory and even the game console is starting to make its way into the classroom. I like all of these. Well, ok, I haven’t moved the X-Box into school yet but you know what I really do like is a good old fashioned board game every now and then.
I love finding the opportunity to play a game as part of a lesson and the kids get a lot out of it as well. Used as either a ‘hook’ at the start of a unit (see below – Life in the Trenches) or as the culmination of a detailed investigation to consolidate understanding (Germanopoly) games can be a really powerful teaching method. Getting the children to design their own games is also a real winner. Sadly it is often the case that our time constraints….”I still have three units to finish with 10B before the exam so I can’t waste time”….mean we push things like games aside and plough on with the content. We should resist this pressure. Games do have a place in even GCSE and GCE schemes of work and invariably engage the students so effectively that some really deep learning takes place and, dare I say it, this is probably more effective than ploughing on with the content! So go on Sir/Miss let’s play a game…….