Your community for active learning strategies
I've been discussing this with Greg separately, but I thought I would ask the whole group their thoughts on this, and see what you thought...
My school currently owns a large number of Interact activities. I've been somewhat reluctant to use them, not because of the quality of the materials (far from it), but more because of class sizes. I'd like to hear what other members of the group can suggest as far as using Interact simulations, etc. in a small group.
For example, I'm wanting to use an activity from the Government Activators II set. This one deals with Campaigns, Elections, and Political Parties. In the directions, Greg suggests to set the class up into seven different groups to reflect various political parties or issue areas. One of my Government classes is very small (only 10 if everyone is present), and it's going to be difficult to divide that class up into groups.
So, I wondered if anyone else "out there" has dealt with similar issues with this...Government Activators, or other Interact simulations? Any suggestions, ideas, thoughts would definitely be appreciated!
I've had the same problem. Because the school is small (tiny), we have a close-knit team, and I've been able to occasionally combine classes for team end-projects (e.g., using World I had teams across 2 classes who then came together for the "war" and "peace conference" stages; likewise for Forum). If you can go cross-curricular you can also increase the pool. I'm trying Galaxy this year with only 12 students. I'm hopeful it will at least sort of work! Interested in other possible solutions.
You bring up an interesting idea. I hadn't thought about the cross-curriculum aspect of this. We are a relatively small school as well, but I don't think we have the same cohesiveness between departments that you might. For example, our Social Studies and Language Arts staffs are fairly far apart in regard to location in the school, which would reduce the spontaneity of working together, at least in real time.
What I wound up doing with the Campaigns activity was to reduce the number of groups. Greg had it set so that there were several groups representing a multitude of political parties. Since my largest Government class was roughly 14 students, I just reduced the number of groups. It didn't make for a diverse simulation, but at least it provided insight into some different political philosophies.
My school also has small classes and I love using Interact materials. I am usually able to modify the plans by either limiting the number of groups or simply giving each student more responsibilities. For example, I'm currently using a Storypath unit about the unrest in Colonial Boston. although it calls for creating "family groups", each of my students created a family, assumed the role of one of the characters in the family, and then proceeded to respond in each activity for their entire family, rather than actually discussing it with others. They are still able to have group interactions because the community meets frequently as a whole. It's working well.
I've been using Caravans and Empires with small groups (15-20) for years. Caravans is relatively easy -limit the number of groups. Empires was trickier -I found that the guide really wasn't clear about how roles would "play out" over the course of time, so I had to improvise and hope for the best. I eliminated one of the groups and students doubled up on roles when necessary. It worked out ok, although you have to alter the map a bit. I think both sims can work well with smaller groups. What I would love to see are annotations in the guides for using individual sims with smaller groups or even with groups who only meet twice a week (that's my bigger issue).