Teaching the House of Burgesses/ Town Hall Meeting Using Civilization IV

Each class is given a nation to run in the simulation.  I want to stress that all of the decisions are made by the students and the solutions to their problems generated by the students.  The teacher here is a facilitator, a reminder as to what is available, and a resource to understanding concepts being applied in the game. 

 When I introduce the game the students have a mix of emotions.  Some are intrigued.  Some respond negatively because it is so different.  Others look at me severely confused.  I have to take the time to reassure them that they will understand more as we continue on.  They have never had a teacher do this.  I know I am the first one and I know it is scary for a lot of them.  So as we go through the journal and I show each place where information is located on the screen I make sure to help everyone.

The second stage to this is to model the House of Burgesses/town hall meeting style decision making.  Usually I have the students do a small reading beforehand that take only half the period.  Then when everyone is done and we have discussed what it is all about I move into the game.  I have each student vote on the decision we are making for that day and the majority wins on each decision.  Usually we vote on things like how much to tax, how much to spend on the arts or the military, or if we should start attacking nearby cities to try to expand.  It can be a slow process, but it gets everyone involved and now I limit what they build to different kinds of buildings, like economic or military.

All of the decisions are made by the students and they have to deal with the consequences.  No two situations are the same and it is neat to watch them do things and learn.  They try some things out and based on the results react differently.  Usually the ones who have military successes keep going and those who don’t stop right away.

I use this style of government for probably about the 1st quarter as we go through the Revolution.  I make sure everyone has a say in what we do and it models similar styles of government that existed during the time period.  When we have declared independence from our Mother Country I then shift into the Articles of Confederation to show them how hard that style of government was to utilize, but that is a different post.  
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