Use an Interactive Game to Hook Students to US History

I thought I’d made the greatest find of the summer when I discovered BiblioNasium a few weeks ago. Little did I know, I’d discover a free interactive online program for American History, chock-full of supplemental materials including a teacher’s guide, learning goals and national standards alignment. Mission US is an interactive role-playing game that can be used with your US History class. I ran through the game myself, reviewed the teacher materials, and plan to use it with my 5th grade kiddos in class this year. Read on to learn more about the game and how it can be used in your classroom.

Mission US Promo Video

WHAT’S THE PURPOSE?

The purpose of Mission US is to engage students in 1770s Colonial America through a first person experience. Students learn vocabulary and meet important historical figures along their journeys. As students navigate through the game, they make choices that affect the outcome. So, students will experience different outcomes depending upon the choices they make within the game. Fun!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

For Crown or Colony Screenshot

Mission US: For Crown to Colony is set in prerevolutionary Boston and leads up to the Boston Massacre. The game is split into 7 sections, including the prologue and epilogue.

Each gamer assumes the identity of Nat Wheeler who leaves his farm to become a printer’s apprentice in Boston. Through Nat, students learn about prerevolutionary Boston by interacting with characters, completing tasks and making decisions on Nat’s behalf.

Below is a breakdown of the story, taken from Teacher’s Guide: Mission 1: “For Crown or Colony?” At a Glace which is available within the extensive supplementary teacher materials on the Mission website. With the exception of the epilogue, each section contains a task for students to complete and tackles new vocabulary and concepts.

Mission US Story Guide

*Story breakdown was taken from the Teacher's Guide "For Crown or 
Colony?" available on the Mission US website.
HOW CAN I USE IT IN MY CLASSROOM?

As suggested within the teaching materials on the Mission US website, Mission US is best used as a hook or jumping-off-point of a new unit of study. Used in this way, the game will engage students and expose them to new vocabulary, events and important people of the time period.

I’m fortunate to have access to a laptop for each student in my class, so I plan to install the downloadable version on each student’s laptop (to allow for better streaming) and continuously use it as a hook as we progress through our unit on Colonial America. You could also place the game at a station and have students cycle through, have students work in pairs and make decisions together, or assign it for homework. Though, I’ll speculate that the potential for this program to improve student engagement and the quality of class discussions would be far greater with in-class use.

Here’s a video that shows how one teacher used the game with her middle school class.

DON’T INCORPORATE TECHNOLOGY INTO YOUR CLASSROOM JUST BECAUSE IT LOOKS JAZZY

Make sure to consider the benefits first. Not sure if this program will actually benefit your student’s learning? Use the When to Use Technology checklist to better evaluate whether Missoin US may be a good fit for your class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 10.37.46 AM

It’s a rarity to find such a purposeful, user-friendly, educational game like this available for FREE. Usually the catch is that free resources are packed with advertisements, but that’s not the case with Mission US. Another great summer find! We won’t be ready to use this program in my class until December, but I’ll let you know how it goes!

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