This lesson is designed with 8th grade U.S. History students in mind, but could easily be applied to any age group or class that is studying what led to the American Revolution. The activity planned for this lesson has the potential to be done on individual iPad’s or computers, however I have found that the most effective way to utilize Mission U.S. is playing through one computer and making decisions as a whole class. Mission U.S. is a free online “choose-your-own-adventure” game designed for educators to teach American history topics ranging from the American Revolution to Reconstruction. Most of the decisions of fairly irrelevant to the story, but any choices still teach important concepts and engage the students with a sense of choice. On the other hand, a few key decisions change the entire outcome of the “game” and so far students have been very heated in their debate over what route to take.
The process in this lesson would usually begin with 5-10 minutes of students working on their own to locate definitions for the vocabulary words on the provided worksheet. All vocabulary words are relevant to the choose your own adventure chapter and students are not expected to complete all the definitions before the game begins — they can use time at the end of class to find more or write the definitions as they are covered during the chapter. Receiving student input to make the decisions as a group is another critical part of the process for this lesson, and ideally the program “Plickers” is used. Plickers allows an instructor to print what is basically a QR code that links to each student in a class on the Plickers website. The QR code sheets can be rotated 90 degrees, with each rotation representing the answers A-B. After creating a set of questions created on the Plickers website, the instructor can use an app on their phone (or iPad with a camera) to quickly scan the room as students hold up their QR code with the answer they choose. (For this game, I leave the question blank and make answer options “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D” to act as placeholders for all the decisions in Mission US) Once all the students have been scanned in, and the website shows which students have been scanned and which have not, the instructor can display a bar graph that shows which answer was the most popular. Choices are made based on the group’s majority decision, and discussion about key points is consistent through the whole lesson.
Finally, the students are responsible for one more task while the “game” is being played. On the back of the worksheet with vocabulary words there is a portion called the “Response Log.” Students can choose four of the decisions they found interesting and write what they wanted to choose, not what the class majority chose, and why they wanted to make that decision.
I look forward to doing this lesson with you all!