Board Games 2.0: Updating A Popular Project so it Meets Common Core
There are just some activities students love. For my students, it’s anything that involves competition, creativity, and control over their own learning. So it’s no surprise that my board game project is a success every year. I ask students to work as teams to create original games which help them review Indian history and religion for the unit exam. I dedicate multiple class periods and provide the materials students need to design and build their games.
Board Games and Common Core
In past years this project was solely focused on addressing the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for History. Did the students “describe the growth of British influence in India and the emergence of the British Raj” (WHI.22)? Yes. Did the students “identify major developments in Indian history in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the rise of Indian nationalism and the influence and ideas of Gandhi.” (WHI.12.C)? Yes. But, what they DID NOT do is recognize or address the Common Core standards.
In order to revamp this project, I thought about how I could use the board game project as a means to address the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards.
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively
When does this happen?
- Each team creates a unique sales pitch – and this is new – to “sell” their game to the rest of the class. They argue what makes their game original, creative, accurate, and a great review for the unit exam. (See Day 4 below for that video)
- Students spend multiple class periods speaking with their peers in small groups. They work intensely to review the content required in their games, and also have complete autonomy over their game design and creation. Students collaborate authentically – it’s really incredible to see!
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
When does this happen?
- Students create visual displays of historical information. More points are awarded to students that incorporate the content into the displays on their board games.
- For example, sample board games 6 and 7 successfully incorporate historical information into their games. They have players “cross the Indian Ocean” and “experience the religious tolerance of Akbar the Great”. These games scored higher than others like sample 1 which was basically a recreation of “Candyland.”
Day 1: Introduction and Workshop
On Day 1, I present students with the Review Board Game Project Description packet. I give students a few moments to read the packet independently, then I go over my expectations, answer clarifying questions, and assign teams of 3. As student begin to tackle the assignment, I circulate and ask the students about divisions of labor, drafts, and review questions.
Days 2 and 3: Workshop
On Days 2 and 3, I give students the entire class periods to work. I circulate to monitor work progress, but I give students autonomy. Complete board games are due at the end of class on Day 3.
Day 4: Sales Competition
As teams, each group creates a sales pitch for their board game. The pitch is approximately 45 seconds long and must include game features, content, and uniqueness. Then, each team selects 1 person to act as salesperson. This person stays with the game as the other 2 students act as consumers and travel the room learning about the other games. Each salesperson has 60 seconds to sell to their consumers. At the end, teams reconvene and select which team wins. Students vote based on historical accuracy, originality, clarity, and engagement.
Day 5: Game Day
As teams, students play other groups’ board games. They have 15 minutes to play each game, and can only use the instructions provided in the board game box. After playing the game, students have 5 minutes to review the game (see “Review Board Game” pages 3 and 4.) Students provided comments about the historical accuracy, quality of instructions, and engagement. Students have time to play and review 2-3 games in the class period.
I am definitely keeping this board game project for next year. Not only do my students continue to enjoy it, but it is rigorous, engaging, and now better meets the Common Core. And, of course, it serves an excellent way to review for our challenging unit exam on Indian history and religion!