Simulations Get Students Moving

Movement in my classroom can take many forms.  From music and juggling, to stations and rotations that get the blood circulating, to scavenger hunts that get kids racing from clue to clue.  Yet my number one favorite way to get kids up and out of their chairs is with a good, old-fashioned simulation.

Whether it's climbing in the dirt behind the school to get a glimpse of trench warfare, or breaking off into sides and debating the fate of Benedict Arnold, simulations allow students to get outside of their comfort zone and experience life from another point of view.  They get students to delve into history and examine the people, events, and attitudes that shaped our world.

Three of my favorite simulations are:
Each one offers new opportunities for movement and growth among the students.

The Roman Class Structure Simulation allows students to check out the roles of patricians, plebeians, and slaves during the Ancient Roman period by completing various tasks assigned to each of the social groups.  Students often go in assuming they want to be a patrician and leave wishing they weren't.

In the American Sweatshop Simulation students are put in the role of sweatshop workers.  The movement is limited in this one as they perform menial tasks in loud, hot, dark, and crowded conditions, but they come out realizing how good life really is nowadays and how fortunate we are, as Americans, to have the labor laws we do.

Finally, my favorite simulation, the French Revolution gets students up and out of their seats, grouped into social classes, and undergoing various simulation scenarios to please King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.  As the simulation runs on for days, the "peasant" class, or 3rd Estate, becomes more frustrated and actually rises up in revolt.  Little do they know a spy has been lurking among them, as Robespierre is revealed and students are led to the "gallows."  Although a harrowing time in history, it's a fun 7 days of lessons, and students really come out of it with a true understanding of class distinctions and the risks that social inequality means to peace.

So the next time you need to get your students up and moving, try creating a simulation to get them out of their seats and thinking about the world differently.  You just might be surprised with what you find.