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Cottonwood Creek students bring history to life with simulation

Cottonwood Creek students bring history to life with simulationAt Cottonwood Creek Elementary, fifth-grade students are learning about history by role-playing historical figures and engaging in “what if” simulations around the Revolutionary War.

Students in Rebecca Buell’s class were divided into three groups – spies, officers, and soldiers – with one student getting to play the role of George Washington. Each day, the students learn more about the campaign to win American independence by actively considering what might have happened.

“Engaging students in history means giving them a way to participate,” Buell shared. “I give the students some context and what happened in, for example, the Saratoga Campaign, and students have to guess what happened next.”

Students had to confer as a group to decide on an answer. Depending on their answer, they would win or lose morale and supply points.

“Giving students a feeling of involvement and making history more interactive gives a personal connection for students,” Buell added. “They may not remember the exact date when General Howe invaded Philadelphia, but they will remember being excited and involved.”

Students got to use replicated historical artifacts as they went on their historical journey, such as a “mask” letter that allowed them to understand how Revolutionary War participants used codes to send messages.

George Washington, who was portrayed by Daniel Zhou, shared that he enjoyed the active part of the lesson.

“I learned that George Washington had fake teeth,” Zhou said. “It was fun to get to decide stuff and learn about what really happened in history.”

Elio Karam, who played a soldier, had fun learning history and getting to choose which scenario to try.

“I learned today that the Americans won more victories, but the British captured Philadelphia, which was the capital, but the Americans kept on fighting,” Karam said. 

“I was a spy and I liked that we got to find out and do some investigating about what we have to do in the army,” Evan Baillargeon added. “I learned that even though we had many losses, there was still a grand victory.”


Posted 5/16/23.