Class 10: Role-Playing – Beyond Manifest Destiny: America Enters the Age of Imperialism

second Virginia VolunteersStudents took part in a role play developed by the Choices Program. The program’s curriculum units draw upon multiple primary source documents and culminate in a rigorous student-centered role-playing activity. Students took part in a Choices lesson entitled: Beyond Manifest Destiny: America Enters the Age of Imperialism. Working cooperatively, students will advocate for one of the three options the United States considered toward Spain’s former colonies. Students draw upon primary sources and take into consideration the views of fictional townspeople to recreate this critical moment in history.

The goal of this class is to experience the role-play as teaching method. Students will be introduced to (and receive) a hands-on curriculum that uses primary sources, case studies, videos, and role-play simulations to engage students in an exploration of the concept of human rights and the challenges of international enforcement. The curriculum also introduces students to various human rights actors, and examines the current debate on U.S. human rights policy. Emphasis is placed on helping students develop the skills and habits needed for active citizenship.

The lesson was delivered by guest teacher  – Tim Graham. Tim is currently a teacher at Cleveland High School in Portland, OR. He has taught social studies for 11 years in the Portland Public Schools district, working at Roosevelt, Benson, and Franklin high schools in addition to his current placement at Cleveland. He has attended teaching seminars with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. He is currently a Choices Teaching Fellow. Tim maintains two class blogs – Modern World History and  IB HOTA.

Image credit: 2nd Virginia Volunteers  playing with a rattlesnake. Volunteers were poised for war with Spain and stationed in Pablo Beach, Florida prior to assault on Cuba. 1898
State Library and Archives of Florida call number: N041287

5 Replies to “Class 10: Role-Playing – Beyond Manifest Destiny: America Enters the Age of Imperialism”

  1. I really liked yesterday’s class! The simulation was a lot of fun and reminded me why I love history so much. I did simulations like this one almost every week when I was in high school, and I want to implement them in my own classroom one day. I am really interested into looking into the Choices Program as well. It is nice that they provide a well-thought out structure for these kinds of activities. In addition, I enjoyed talking about ways to receive free material and how to attend beneficial conferences. I was unaware that these types of professional developments existed and am now ready to start looking for some to apply to.

  2. As someone who has had multiple teachers who have used simulations I absolutely love them. They’re a great way to engage the students in ways that are interesting to both the teach and the students. I can’t wait to use simulations such as this in my classroom. I did find that the levels of responsibility was a little skewed, but I guess that can’t really be helped in a simulation like this one. I also really liked the free resources we got, as someone who has done a lot of work with China I was impressed with some of the things I saw.

  3. I also loved last week’s class – it was a great reminder of how engaging class simulations can be when done properly. I would love to use this type of activity in my high school classroom next semester – especially since we’re doing US History, with all of the polarizing issues that have been faced in the last century. Overall, this class was one of my favorites for this semester.

  4. I really enjoyed this class. I was fascinating to get into the mind of a person in that time period and try to understand what they might have found important and why. It really helps bring to mind all of the different points of view that are a huge piece of politics and decision making. I would love to do something on a smaller scale in my future middle school classroom. It is a fascinating way to draw in students and make history become something tangible.

  5. I agree with what everyone has said about the role-playing simulation. It was a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to using these types of simulations in my advanced placement (High School Senior class – Contemporary World Issues).

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