This blog post shares an example of how I applied the principles of XPLAP to push beyond the content of one of my lessons. I created an interactive simulation for my students that met the curricular learning targets, while also providing life lessons. The class centered on the Battle of Salamis, one of the most pivotal battles in ancient Greece. The game mechanics in this simulation helped students tackled more than just concepts. They were given opportunities to tackle the high seas of understanding multiple perspectives of the event and empathizing with the uncertainty and pressure that both the Greeks and Persians experienced so long ago at Salamis.

The class began with the retelling of the story of the battle of Salamis. To help them truly experience this epic tale, I literally stood on one of the tables and gregariously reenacted Themistocles’ speech to the Assembly of Athens. The students loved it! They realized this simulation put them in the hot seat of history. I gave them time to “build” their ships by flipping over the tables, adding decorations, and placing four seats in the “boat” for the oarsmen. Creating these ships provided the needed camaraderie between the crew members.

As part of the simulation, I used a document camera and four tiny toy boats that represented each team’s table ship. I manipulated the tiny toy boats in response to the teams’ efforts in the challenge. The document camera captured the movements of these tiny ships, and only the captains could see what was happening because the oarsmen were technically below deck. To ensure this, the oarsmen had their backs facing the screen. In contrast, the captain of each ship faced these oarsman, barked orders at them, and could see the movements of the ships on the screen. This was one of my favorite parts…  Captains could see the four boats circling around and hunting for their next victim. It was so much fun. The kids loved it. One of my students posted this response to my photo on my Instagram…


Battle

When building this simulation, I was thinking about game mechanics as well as other game elements in order to make it as “real” as I could. On this day, as the sun rose over my school, just like it had over the straits of Salamis thousands of years before, my little Greeks were ready to take ACTION. This lesson paid off in sooo many ways. My students’ excitement charged them for the rest of the week. They talked about it at the lunch table, and even at the dinner table. Moving students toward action first happens by moving teachers toward action. Building in game mechanics takes any lesson to the next level by leaving room for teamwork, design, and open game concepts where the end is not known.

Share a time when adding #XPLAP to your lesson explained all horizons…

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