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ERIC Number: EJ791704
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Students Play the Notables: Testing a Simulation Exercise
Alvarez, Patricia
History Teacher, v41 n2 p179-197 Feb 2008
Biography has a proven track record of exciting interest in historical events. Barbara Tuchman used it extensively in her best-selling histories, considering it a "vehicle to carry the larger subject," something that "encompasses the universal in a particular... representative." Others favor biography because it "humanizes history," "personalizes events," and "demonstrates that the individual does matter." Using the format of a press conference, the "History Alive! Program" of the Teachers' Curriculum Institute in California focuses on the lives of "notables" involved in pivotal historical events. In this program, students working in groups face the challenge of personifying an historical figure. The program attempts to deal with "the complexities" of important yet difficult issues by means of "affective learning" whereby students come to "truly appreciate how history affects their own lives." In this article, the author tests the assumptions about simulations with a History Alive! lesson plan entitled "The Rise of Democracy." She presents three simulation exercises in which students play as notables on the U.S. Constitution, Civil War and the Vietnam War "press conferences". In every exercise, the students begin with biographical briefings of their figures. In a survey she conducted to determine the students' opinion about the press conferences, the author found that students enjoyed the press conferences almost as much as they learned from them. The press conference format proved the ability of biography and role-playing to enhance student learning. These exercises were among the favorites of students when seen in retrospect and arrayed against other social studies activities. Five appendixes for the Vietnam War press conferences include: (1) Summary of Historical Figures; (2) Rating Sheet; (3) Note-Taking form; (4) Online Archival Search instructions; and (5) Archives Worksheet. (Contains 4 tables and 29 endnotes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 11; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A