Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas from Jewell School!

As the 2008 school year comes to an end, I look back at a good year for Memoir '44 and me. In the early winter of 2007 I decided to teach my 3rd grade class how to play Memoir '44 during lunch recess. Every student in my class learned the game and it alerted me to the fact that I might be able to teach history using the game.

Now I'm about to embark on an exciting new endeavor by running a History Club centered around Memoir '44, with those same students. They have proven to be my test group; with them I can gauge how much interest there might be in future years and I can figure out how to link Memoir '44 and education.

Memoir '44 has seen some exciting new expansions come out including the Air Pack, Operation Overlord, Battle Maps, the Mediterranean expansion, and the newest announcement of the Campaign Book! During this past year, I also had the chance to join the volunteer force at Days of Wonder and help with the Campaign Book. In all, it has been a good year for Memoir '44 and me!

Merry Christmas to everyone! Days of Wonder has given Memoir '44 fans a final gift for 2008, so if you haven't already seen it find your gift here. We'll see you all next year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Campaign Book: Volume 1

The newest, and possibly most anticipated, expansion has been announced today on the Days of Wonder web site! This expansion, the Campaign Book: Volume 1, provides over 50 new scenarios that are linked in a campaign format. Players can play the battles alone, but they were designed to follow in a sequence.

In a slight change from the normal Memoir '44 games, players choose one side to play throughout the Campaign. In the first campaign you can either be the Allies who are trying to fight their way out of their D-Day beachheads, or play as the Axis who are trying to hold Caen and throw the Allies back into the sea. The second campaign allows players to choose between the Germans who are starting their blitzkrieg across Belgium and France on their way to capturing all of Western Europe, or the surprised Allies who are trying to withstand the overwhelming Wehrmacht (German Army). The final campaign plays out Operation Barbarossa. Players can be the attacking Germans or the Russians as they scramble to defend their vast territory.

This expansion is very exciting for me because it's such a great idea, but also because I had the opportunity to help with it's creation! Eric Hautemont, of Days of Wonder, allowed me to edit and proofread the text for this project so my name is on the cover and everything! Whether you are buying Memoir '44 for the first time or already own all of the other expansions, this book is a wonderful addition to your Memoir '44 inventory.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Location Located

The Jewell History club will start each meeting in my classroom but then quickly move into the library. The Memoir '44 battles will be decided on the large tables in the library work area. The research and scenario development will take place in the computer lab.

The computer lab, pictured above, has plenty of iMac's for each student to do research or work on building their scenarios.

I couldn't ask for a better place to hold the Memoir '44 History Club because we have plenty of room (even if the club grows), there are nearby restrooms, and the students are all familiar with the location.

The library work are, pictured left, has tables that are the perfect size for a Memoir '44 board. The larger tables can even fit a Breakthrough map or an Overlord map.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Single Largest Order...Ever!

My orders are all in and the Memoir '44 History Club equipment is piling up! I now have 24 items to start the club in January:
6 sets: Memoir '44 Base Game
5 sets: Memoir '44 Terrain Pack
5 sets: Memoir '44 Pacific Theater
4 sets: Memoir '44 Hedgerow Hell
2 sets: Memoir '44 Campaign Bag
2 sets: Memoir '44 Operation Overlord

I'll eventually get more equipment (especially if the club is as popular as I hope it will be) but this is the largest order I expect to ever get all at once.

Thanks for your interest in our Memoir '44 History Club!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Starting something new...

This blog is dedicated to the workings of the Memoir '44 History Club that I'm running at my school. I will work on updating readers of this blog on what we're doing, how I organize the club, and how things are working (or aren't working).

Club Population
Starting in January, my History Club (HC) will be open to 4th grade students who played Memoir '44 with me the previous year. I hope to have 20 students join the club but if there aren't 20 students who played last year, interested in joining the club, I will open membership to students who haven't played Memoir '44 before. During the 2009-2010 school year, the club will be open to 4th and 5th graders and I will accept at least 24 students (maybe more if the interest is there).

Club Fees
Each student (or parent, actually) is required to pay a $10 membership fee. If parents feel they can't afford this, I will discuss 'scholarship' opportunities for those students. The Club Fee is a one-time charge each session. One reason for the fee, is to encourage more participation from the students. If parents have paid for the club, they are more likely to make it a priority and encourage their student to show up to every meeting. The second reason for the fee, is to pay for simple snacks and possibly buy replacement materials when that need arrises.

Club Schedule
Our first session will be from January 13 - March 19, 2009. We will meet almost every Tuesday and Thursday after school, from 3:30-5:00. In total, we will meet 19 times in the first session. Each meeting will start in my classroom with a quick snack. During snack, we will discuss the history behind the scenario being played that day and the strategy each side used.

We will move to the school library (down the hall) no later than 4:00 and students will begin setting up the scenario. Teams begin playing the battles as soon as each board is set up. Parents will begin picking students up at 5:00.

Club Support
I have been very lucky to receive full support for the Memoir '44 History Club from Jewell's principal and librarian. The principal has agreed to let us do fund-raising if we need to, and has offered school funds for club related ideas. The librarian has very generously agreed to use funds from her department to buy research materials from Amazon and a library distributor. In early December, we spent $300 on elementary-level books about World War II battles. These books will stay in the library for the general student population to enjoy, but can be checked out by our Memoir Club.

Club Goals
The Memoir '44 History Club is designed to teach students about American involvement in World War II. To that end, students will learn about specific battles that took place in Europe and the Pacific. They will also be required to choose an historical battle and develop it into a scenario with a partner. Those battles will be tested (slightly) by the club and then published online under the user name "Jewell HC". A wonderful side effect of playing Memoir '44 and designing scenarios, is that the students will leave the club with a positive view of history and a sense that history can be a lot of fun!

Club Activities
During each session, I will invite at least one World War II veteran to come talk to the students. We will dedicated one afternoon to listening to the vet, asking questions, and discussing the war with the guest. Before the speaker comes, we will study the conflicts that person was involved in and play a scenario that represents that history. Through this kind of pre-teaching, students will be able to understand what the vet is referring to and ask better questions.

The guest for our first session will be my grandfather, Harold Kurtz. He is pictured here with a World War II US military motorcycle he is restoring. This model was designed to be paradropped onto the battle field. Harold was a glider pilot who helped transport troops during Operation Varsity. We will study the operation and play a scenario that uses gliders before he comes to visit.

Club Conclusion
By the end of the first session, students will have competed in two tournaments and received a trophy and certificate for each, done historical research, created their own historical scenario, met a World War II veteran, learned about the history of over 10 battles, and practiced good sportsmanship. Parents will be encouraged (by me and I'm sure, by their children) to buy a set of the Memoir '44 base game so the learning and excitement can continue at home.