Start with a model. A model is a simplified version of reality. The word model may sometimes be difficult to conceptualize but you must realize that much of our thinking and our experiences are based on models. Mario Brothers is a model. As I said in earlier posts, Cowboys and Indians is a model. Playing House is a model. Any novel you read is a model. Any TV show you watch is a model. Most any lesson is a model.
All a model is is a stripped down version of something more complex. Our brain has to strip down what it perceives and what it considers to distill down to the important essences. If it can’t I’d posit that the learner / thinker will not be able to truly grasp the concepts or skills associated with what you are trying to teach.
If I want to teach the causes of the American Revolution through a simulation I need to identify these and then to simplify them for the learners’ level of thinking capacity. Then I need to re-coalesce them into a narrative, textual and / or visual in which the learners begin to interact.
Now I’d argue, especially for younger or middle school learners that you are often better off by NOT using the actual content area. Rather you’d be more effective to take the elements you mean to teach and weave them into a simpler narrative.
I’d be better off for example creating a colony on the moon and using the UN as the colonial power who begins to impose restrictions and expectations on the space colony that PARALLEL those same issues that the British imposed on the American colonies.
Why not just use the actual events you ask? Well you can, but remember that the purpose of any lesson is enable the learner to practice and master the skills and content the teacher has targeted. I’d contend that using moon scenario frees you up of “content-clutter” and enables you to concentrate on the concepts and themes that were of prime importance in the first place.
But what about the “facts”? Don’t worry about that! I’ll show you how to do that later.