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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.