Gaming the Past : Using Video Games to Teach Secondary History book cover
1st Edition

Gaming the Past
Using Video Games to Teach Secondary History

ISBN 9780415887601
Published May 16, 2011 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

Despite the growing number of books designed to radically reconsider the educational value of video games as powerful learning tools, there are very few practical guidelines conveniently available for prospective history and social studies teachers who actually want to use these teaching and learning tools in their classes. As the games and learning field continues to grow in importance, Gaming the Past provides social studies teachers and teacher educators help in implementing this unique and engaging new pedagogy. This book focuses on specific examples to help social studies educators effectively use computer simulation games to teach critical thinking and historical analysis. Chapters cover the core parts of conceiving, planning, designing, and implementing simulation based lessons. Additional topics covered include:

  • Talking to colleagues, administrators, parents, and students about the theoretical and practical educational value of using historical simulation games.
  • Selecting simulation games that are aligned to curricular goals
  • Determining hardware and software requirements, purchasing software, and preparing a learning environment incorporating simulations
  • Planning lessons and implementing instructional strategies
  • Identifying and avoiding common pitfalls

  • Developing activities and assessments for use with simulation games that facilitate the interpretation and creation of established and new media

Also included are sample unit and lesson plans and worksheets as well as suggestions for further reading. The book ends with brief profiles of the majority of historical simulation games currently available from commercial vendors and freely on the Internet.

Table of Contents

  1. Why Play Historical Simulation Games: Making the Case to Administrators, Parents, Colleagues, and Students
  2. What Makes a Valid Simulation Game?
  3. Matching Genres of Historical Simulation Games to History and Social Studies Curricular Content
  4. Instructional Strategies
  5. Putting it all together: Learning Exercises, Assessments, and Sample Lesson Plans

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Jeremiah McCall, Ph.D, teaches secondary history at Cincinnati Country Day School. He has been involved in the study and use of simulation games in history education for nearly a decade and is a frequent presenter on the topic at teaching conferences including Education Arcade and Games and Learning Society.


"Gaming the Past makes a compelling case that computer-based historical simulation games are a legitimate and important curriculum resource for 21st-century learning that goes beyond hipness or novelty to foster the rich and rigorous critical analysis, interpretation, and synthesis skills that are so fundamental to a robust democracy. For the unsure and convinced history teacher or teacher educator, this is a worthwhile read and handy guide."
The History Teacher

"One of the most comprehensive resources I have found.  Whether providing a rationale for parents and administrators to actual lesson plans, this book is ‘one stop shopping’ for digital game use in the social studies classroom."

--Phillip J. VanFossen, James F. Ackerman Professor of Social Studies Education and

Director, Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship, College of Education, Purdue University

"Jeremiah McCall provides a compelling argument for integrating historical simulations in the secondary history classroom. The reader will come away with a true appreciation and understanding of why simulation games are efficacious pedagogical strategies/technologies for teaching students."

--D. Antonio Cantù, Professor and Chair of Teacher Education, Bradley University

"Gaming the Past is a model example of reflective research, makes enormous contributions to the field, and makes an exceptional text for education courses with pre and in service teachers."—Teachers College Record