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WW HistoryQuest Fellows bring game-based learning to Massachusetts classrooms

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Melissa Pivonka observes her class as they do an American Revolution escape room activity she designed with help from the WW HistoryQuest Fellowship.

Two Massachusetts teachers brought research and history to life in their classrooms this fall. Caroline Cadel, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Whitcomb Middle School in Marlborough, and Melissa Pivonka, a history teacher at Marlborough High School, took what they learned at the 2017 WW HistoryQuest summer institute to create hands-on, game-based learning activities.

According to an article in the Main Street Journal, Ms. Cadel had her students research and design their own businesses that they then pitched to a group of “investors,” in the style of the popular TV show Shark Tank.

Students also had to think about making sure their workers felt valued and finding ways to use their profits for good. “As I learned at the [WW HistoryQuest] Fellowship,” Ms. Cadel said in the article, “empathy is a powerful tool which my students skillfully incorporated as part of their pitch.”

Using another pop cultural phenomenon as a spring board, Ms. Pivonka designed an American Revolution escape room. Students had to work as a team, applying their knowledge to solve clues about the events and figures of the Revolution.

“This fun activity helped me think of everything that went on during this important time period,” student Lucy Cappadona is quoted as saying. “It made me think of it as a whole.”

Developed with the Institute of Play in New York City, the Woodrow Wilson HistoryQuest Fellowship offers professional development for middle and high school American history teachers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York City, and Pennsylvania. The program aims to use the power of games, play, and digital tools to transform both teacher practice and student engagement. In the long term, it may also provide a new disciplinary resource for university-based teacher preparation. For more information about the program, click here.

For the full Main Street Journal article, click here.


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