The lesson plan presented below will come from the Behavioral Systems family of models. This is a simulation that can be used in a 7th through 12th grade Social Studies classroom. The ideal setting for using this simulation would be when talking about third world countries that are currently having difficulties or when talking about the history of more sophisticated countries. The syntax for a simulation has four phases and these phases will be presented below. We will be pretending like this is the classroom of Mr. Johnson and he teaches 11th grade Current Events. This lesson plan was constructed using aspects of the simulation that was created by Pete Berry of Racine Case High School in 1994 (http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/Civics/CIV0006.html).
Phase One: Orientation
In phase one the general topic of the simulation is going to be introduced. Further, concepts that will be used throughout the game are also presented and discussed. The simulation should be thoroughly explained and there should also be a brief overview of the simulation. (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2009).
Mr. Johnson: Over the past few weeks we have discussed various countries in Africa and Asia that are struggling with all sorts of problems. We have talked about things that they have done which we thought were wrong and we have also talked about things they did where we thought they were right. It is easy to look at these other countries and say the things we do from the comfort of our own seats. What if we were put in their leader’s shoes and forced to make the decisions they have too? How do you think we would do? Do you think you could make the right decisions? Over the next few weeks we are going to do a simulation that puts the power in your hands. You will be forced to make decisions about how to allocate resources in order to help your country grow.
Phase Two: Participant Training
In phase two Mr. Johnson will set up the scenario. He will make sure that players understand the rules they must abide by and the roles they must play. He will describe procedures such as how decisions will be made and scored. He will also assign roles and hold a brief practice session (Joyce et al., 2009).
Mr. Johnson: For the sake of our game we are actually going to split the class into two teams to see the different decisions that can be made. There will be five people on each team. Each team should select a president, security official, health official, agriculture official, and education official. The health official will be the main speaker for health issues and the education official will the key speaker for educational issues and so on. I want each team to develop a flag that represents your country’s beliefs. You should also come up with a name for your country. I also need each team to develop a chart so you can keep up with your decisions and the outcomes of those decisions. When you are done creating your flag, country’s name and chart I need you place those items on the bulletin board. After those are completed and hung up we will hold a brief practice session before starting the actual simulation. I will be walking around the room to help any team that might need help or direction. (Students will create flag, name, and chart at this time.)
Mr. Johnson: Great, now that you are done with your flag and chart and all of our roles are filled it is time to begin our practice session. Before we begin our practice session let me explain a little bit more about the game. I am going to give you 10 different projects that you can choose to spend money on. Out of those 10, you will select 5 that you want to actually spend money on. I expect you to debate within your group how your picks should be used. When you have decided on 5, I want you to give me a paragraph explanation for why you chose what you did. I also want you to make note of those who did not agree with the decision and would have chose something else. At times you may even have to vote. Over the next few days I am going to put events up on the screen that could happen to your country. These events might be floods or financial crisis. The events will be chosen based on what we see happening in other countries for that day. For example, if Libya is currently experiencing a health crisis that could be the situation presented on screen. One of the projects that your group can choose will be related to something having to do with eliminating this health crisis. It could be a vaccination project or a hospital project. I will present your 10 choices to you shortly. If one of your projects could help out with the situation than your team will get to choose another project to spend money on. The rationale is that your team will not have to spend a lot of money to cure the problem. If your chosen projects do not help the situation than your team does not get any additional picks because it is assumed you will have to spend a lot of money helping get rid of the current problem. For practice I want your group to choose between spending money on hiring new teachers or more doctors for the health department and then I will present the situation on screen. (At this point the groups will debate over what their choice should be. After each group has chosen a scenario will be presented.) Now that both teams have chosen here is the scenario. Your country’s young men and women are having a hard time learning to read. What has country done to help out? Team one, what was your choice?
Team One: We chose to spend money on doctors.
Mr. Johnson: I am afraid doctors cannot help with your reading problem. Team two, what was your choice?
Team Two: We chose to spend money on hiring new teachers.
Mr. Johnson: There is a good chance that more teachers could help improve your literacy rate. If we were playing the real game right now you would get to choose something else to spend your money on.
Phase Three: Simulation Operations
In stage three the two groups will actually carry out the real simulation. Mr. Johnson’s job will be too give feedback and evaluate the decisions made by the groups. He will do this primarily by presenting scenarios on the board. Mr. Johnson will also be responsible for clarifying any misconceptions (Joyce et al., 2009).
Mr. Johnson: Welcome back everybody. Today we are going to continue the simulation that we started yesterday. I am going to present each group with 10 different projects that you can choose. The projects are listed here on the board (improving the literacy rate, prevention of cholera, improved irrigation, anti-terrorism strategies, immigration strateges, hiring more teachers, aids prevention, keeping livestock from becoming infected with diseases, improving relationships with country’s that border your own country). You are going to select the five projects that you want to undertake. Remember that each group should write me a paragraph about why you made the choices that you did. I am going to give you all day to make your choices and write your paragraphs. Tomorrow I will present your first scenario and then I will present four more scenarios each proceeding day after that. We will keep up with your results on your chart and we will see who has the greatest country. (At this time the two groups will spend the rest of the period debating over what five projects they want to undertake. They will also use this time to write why they support each measure. It will be the teachers job to serve as a facilitator and coach to make sure that each team is staying on track.)
Mr. Johnson: I was very impressed with how well each group performed yesterday. Your teamwork was exceptional and I think each team made good choices but when leading a country good choices does not necessarily mean success. Everybody take a look at the board and lets see what problem your country will face today.
(At this point everyone will look to the board at the scenario being presented. For the sake of this lesson plan we will pretend like the scenario presented has something to do with an outbreak of a disease that can affect livestock. The group that selected to do the project dealing with disease prevention among livestock will have the choice to choose another project. If a team did not choose the livestock project they will not get to choose anything else. Each team will note what happened on their charts. At this time each time will also note the possible outcomes of their decisions. The team that selected the livestock option may state that based on their decision their citizens still have healthy meat and that it did not have to recall thousands of pounds of meat. The team that did not do the project will have to decide what repercussions its country will face because they did not choose this project. The game will go on for a total of five days and at the end each side, with the help of the teacher and maybe other judges, will determine who made the best choices and who has the better country.)
Phase Four: Participant Debriefing
In phase four Mr. Johnson will summarize events and perceptions along with difficulties and insights. The simulation process will be analyzed. The simulation activity will not actually be compared to the real world in this stage because this will primarily be carried out in stage three through the use of current scenarios being faced by country’s in different parts of the world. Simulation activity will also be related to course content in phase three so that will not be emphasized here (please note that the last two things discussed are normally carried out in phase four). Finally, Mr. Johnson should appraise and redesign the simulation as needed (Joyce et al., 2009).
Mr. Johnson: I want to make sure that I let each group know how proud I am of the work you did. Each group made good decisions and had solid rationale for those decisions but only one group came out on top. I hope that from this simulation you see that it can be extremely hard to make decisions for an entire country. Even though your rationale was solid and you felt like you were choosing wisely, sometimes your choices came back to hurt you. From this simulation you can see that leaders of country’s all over the world face a daunting task each day they go to work. It is so easy for us to sit hear and critique the decisions they make but after this simulation I hope that we understand that making decisions is not always as easy as it seems and that even when we made good decisions as leaders of our contry’s, well those decisions did not always pan out.
Berry, P. (1994). Developing Country Simulation. Educator’s Reference Desk. Retrieved 10 November 2010 from http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/Civics/CIV0006.html
Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2009). Models of teaching (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson