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December 12: Fantasy Geopolitics
I got the chance yesterday to spend time with some of the middle / high school teachers from Manhattan. We chatted about primary sources and DBQs and historical thinking and Sam Wineburg and all sorts of social studies stuff.
Doing tech integration stuff is fun. But spending a whole day with other history and social studies nerds is good for the soul. These are my people. And I always walk away from those types of conversations smarter than when I walked in – teachers share ideas, resources, web sites, strategies, all sorts of goodies.
I, of course . . . steal all of those great ideas, resources, web sites, and strategies and pass them on to you.
Yesterday was no different. Shane and Alex, a couple of world history guys, shared how they use what looks like a very sweet tool for geography, world history, and current events teachers. Called Fantasy GeoPolitics, the site mimics the idea of fantasy football and other social studies fantasy games to engage kids in learning more about the world’s many different countries.
The concept is pretty simple. Students draft a team of countries. Using a couple of databases that measure frequency of New York Times news articles and the tone of those articles, the games awards daily points for each country. The more points your team of countries receives, the higher you go in the standings.
During the game, players can make trades for different countries and pick up “free agent” countries to create a stronger team. The game involves and engages students in the study of how politics, geography, humans, economics, and foreign policy interact.
Created by Eric Nelson, a teacher at North Lakes Academy Charter School in Forest Lake, Minnesota, the game aligns incredibly well to my C4 Framework, the NCSS standards, and the Common Core literacy standards for History /Government.
A news segment highlights the draft portion in one of Nelson’s classes:
This sort of gamification provides a variety of possible class activities:
- Daily or weekly current events updates and discussions.
- Daily warm up before diving into course content.
- Run the game in a Civics / Government class to help students become more aware of what was happening around the world before a unit on foreign policy.
- Create a classroom system for student-teams in the bottom half of leagues to form alliances or showcase additional learning to increase their game points.
- Students draft countries in a World Geography class from just the continent they are studying during each new unit. This could build content knowledge about current events and geopolitics in those specific regions.
- Use the game in combination with a current event site such as Newsela or Listen Current to keep students engaged in learning outside of class. This would work especially well if you;re teaching in a block schedule.
- US History teachers could have students draft modern-day World War I, World War II, and Cold War countries to examine the legacy and impact of those conflicts on specific countries.
- World History teachers might have students draft countries from each part of the world they’re studying and align instructional activities around how past events are influencing contemporary issues in that area.
- Use the game in a sociology class to cover the contemporary world issues content standards.
- Media studies and journalism teachers should be all over this to examine global news coverage, bias, and reasons why some countries are featured more than others in the news.
- One Global Cultures teacher had her students draft the lowest scoring countries to help make students aware of lesser-known regions of the world so they can study development and culture. Students that get the lowest scores win.
- Human Geography teachers might use the game to engage students in each of the five themes of geography by having students find news articles related to each theme for their countries.
There are also a ton of resources available.