This week 7th grade wanted to review a unit on Ancient China.  To review the unit we tried using Microscope to explore history. Each group had a packet of information about China and the ability to access laptops as well for information.  With the information in hand we went straight into a game of microscope, but only the scene and period building aspects.  You can see the rules of the game if you’d like.  (Game Rules).

All groups started with the bookends of history being the rise of the Han dynasty and ending with the rise of Qin dynasty.  The rules were they could create their own historical periods and events, but what they chose had to be historically accurate.  Once they learned how to make events and periods they were left to their own devices on how to explore history for 2 rounds.  These were the results.

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After 2 rounds we went a little deeper into it and used Focuses to focus what they were exploring.  Some groups explored the technology of the dynasty, others the emperor, and others Kublai Khan and the ?ongols.  It was their choice and their ideas on how they wanted to expand the empire.  The activity went very well.  The groups were constantly looking in their notes, exploring new ideas, and bouncing around through time to make the events.  After we wound up having enough time to add a little bit of scene building as well.  You can tell by the active photos below.

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Microscope for history building is very easy to start and run, and students enjoy exploring history by concept rather than linearly.  It was easier for them to comprehend and they were the agents of deciding how they want to learn.  If you’d like to try the activity with a classroom it takes minutes to setup.  Download the small sheet of rules and change “history of China” to whatever time period students want to use.  It’s powerful and I’d love to hear from other teachers who have tried it to see if other classrooms obtain the same effect.