Guest Blogger Brian M. Adams teaches at Copeland Middle School in Rockaway, NJ. He is caretaker of historyknowledge.com. He is a certified nerd and has no relation to the Canadian rock star.
As a history teacher, review of civics is a must. In searching for new means of doing so and trying to find a different place to start, I checked with some old friends, Tim and Moby. At the bottom of the BrainPOP site, I saw an icon for GameUp. I found a link to Executive Command and I was set.
All my classes met in the computer lab one day. My goal was for the students to better understand what the jobs and duties of the president. The students brainstormed previously learned information and after that they logged on to the game. I gave the students no instruction on how to play, what were the goals or how to score points.
I gave them a sheet which asked four questions:
- How do you earn points?
- How do you lose points?
- What roles do you fill as president? (Create a list)
- What conclusions can you make about serving as president?
The assignment led to great discussions afterwards. Students had specific questions about things they would not find in their textbook. Topics included: What makes a good law? When should a president veto a law? What is an Omnibus Bill? What is a line item veto? Should it be constitutional? What is the President’s relationship with Congress? When should the decision be made to go to war? What are the results? What makes a good leader? How does one gain support?
Overall, the purpose of the assignment was achieved. Students thought critically using a means that they were very comfortable with… video games. Students intuitively were able complete the task while having fun, in fact students went home and tried to out do others scores which were posted on the board. I look forward to using more iCivics games on BrainPOP in the future!