Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WWII game gets kids hooked on history, Bulletin says

The article about the Memoir '44 History Club apeared in the local newspaper, the Bend Bulletin, on Wednesday, February 18th. It was the central article on the Local page and continued onto a second page.

With a little bit of help I now have access to an online version of the newspaper article for people to look at. With as many international and cross-country fans as we have, it's nice for everyone to have the chance to read the article. Click here to read it or click on the picture I took of the newspaper.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thank You, Bend Bulletin and Sheila Miller!

The Bend Bulletin ran an article on our Memoir '44 History Club on Wednesday, February 18th. The article was very informative for readers who have never played Memoir '44 before, but also explained what the students are learning from the club and how history is a huge part of every session.

The students and I were thrilled with the article and most of my students are convinced that they're celebrities now. The result in the local community couldn't have surprised me more. I have received e-mails from people who are almost as excited about my club as I am. One couple even donated a 24-volume set of World War II encyclopedias that we can use for researching battles or to answer questions we might come up with. Possibly the most exciting development is that several local veterans have expressed interest in talking to the club since they found out about our club. If they are able to come, it'll be a new and amazing way for the students to learn about World War II.

Thank you Bend Bulletin and Sheila Miller.

I'm not sure why, but my students wanted a serious picture. We really were happy about the article, promise!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Green Recruits Dream of Joining the Club

My current 3rd grade class knows all about the Memoir '44 History Club and many of them are looking forward to joining next year.

Many lunch recesses in 3rd grade are spent battling at our Memoir station in my classroom. We play one battle at a time and are currently in our second class tournament. This picture shows the teams of two playing Pegasus Bridge. Other students are welcome to stay in and watch, but they aren't allowed to help with strategy or moves.

My goal in 3rd grade is for the students to learn the rules of Memoir '44, develop a love for the game, and create an interest in World War II history. The Memoir '44 History Club is a place where all of those lessons are continued and developed further. 3rd grade is a good training ground for the History Club and it looks like I could have more than twice as many members in the club next year.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Utah Beach Successfully Concluded

After two sessions away for the game, the students were eager to start playing Memoir '44 again and did a great job setting up Utah Beach. Energy was high and everyone was working hard to emerge on top; with only Sword Beach and Omaha Beach left, they're realizing that the tournament is coming to an end.

Excitement was also high because we were being visited by the local media! Sheila Miller, a local reporter for the education section of the Bend Bulletin, contacted me about visiting our club and doing a story on kids learning history through a board game. She slipped into my classroom as we were reviewing the historical background for Utah Beach and then followed us out to the library to watch the club in action. Her colleague took pictures of the club while Sheila interviewed me and talked to the students.

After the media had left, one of my students asked what newspaper they were from. When she heard they were from the Bulletin, her face lit up. "Everyone reads that! We're going to be famous," she said. While that may not be entirely true, it was a very exciting experience for all of us. The story should appear in the paper this weekend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Proof of Learning

As I handed out the ten-question quiz, I was impressed that I didn't hear someone say, "What!? We have to take a quiz in the History Club?" I did see some surprised faces and maybe a little indignation, but the students got right to work and proved what I've been hoping. They are learning history from the Memoir '44 History Club!

Last Thursday was spent learning about D-Day, and after a quick review of what we had talked about, the students answered 10 questions about D-Day and Memoir '44. Five days after learning about the Normandy invasion, every student remembered what day the landings began, some of the code names given to the beaches, and why the Germans thought they would be safe on June 6, 1944.

After the quiz, students chose new World War II books to read. We spent the rest of the time reading about a minor battle and learning how to design historical scenarios on the Memoir '44 scenario editor.

When we packed up to go, the students were excited to hear that we start the D-Day Tournament back up on Thursday with the Utah Beach scenario. They will charge the beaches with a better understanding of how the Allies prepared for the battle and how Utah Beach fit into Operation Overlord.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Battlefront History

The students finished Juno Beach on Tuesday afternoon. Everyone is being a good sport and enjoying their time playing the game. After the third D-Day battle, the teams are in the following order:

Pickled Ponies - 3 wins
FS 101 Duel Shock - 2 wins, 1 loss
Elite Aquamarines - 2 wins, 1 loss
The Rock stars - 2 losses, 1 win
Spicy Cinnamon Girls - 2 losses, 1 win
The Trench Gunners - 3 losses

Thursday, February 5th, we spent the whole time learning about D-Day and the factors that helped the invasion succeed. Being a history club, I felt it was important that we spend time building background knowledge about World War II. Since we're playing the D-Day landings, I chose to teach the club members about the Allied plan, their deception tactics, and the factors that lead to a successful landing. At the end of our time, we watched a clip from WWII Battlefront that reviewed what I had just taught them and even had commentary by a US Ranger who helped capture Pointe-du-Hoc. The students were very interested to hear from a primary source and had lots of questions about D-Day, Hitler, the Holocaust, and World War II in general. It was a good time to dispel misconceptions and a good time of learning. Now that the students have some background knowledge, when we launch into the Utah Beach landings next week, they'll have a better understanding of the context in which the battle happened.

In the middle of our lesson, one of the club members asked a great question. She raised her hand and asked, "Why do we even have war? What was World War II really about? I mean, why were they fighting?" There are the typical answers of fighting against evil and fighting for freedom, but at its core, she asked a very good question and one that has no simple answer. I'm glad the Memoir '44 History Club is a place for students to discover questions like this and start thinking critically about them.