What are the Changes:

Already I shared a new presentation about how to use Microscope in the classroom and I thought I would explain it in more detail.  You can find it over here.   It’s essentially just the card laying of microscope because that’s much easier and time sensitive then scenes in the classroom.  Instead of scenes, the new game for classrooms creates an engaging way to keep diving deeper into a timeline or a novel.

You start out exactly the same as a regular game microscope with periods and events (I recommend the teacher choose the bookends based on what students are studying).   After 2 rounds of just periods and events.  Then the game begins to change.  Thanks to Oak Park teacher Vanessa Heller she had the idea of adding details to events in a timeline.  So now students can go very broad with periods, more narrow with events, and even deeper a dive into details of what happened in events.  After a few rounds of the three options then we add focuses. To make focuses better we included the Depth and Complexity icons to the process. Now students can focus on certain Periods, Certain Events, Certain themes, or certain big ideas like governmental systems, power structures, checks and balances.  It’s an amazing addition to the game and creates really engaging timelines.  Plus, without scenes a lot more information can be researched by students.

How to Use in a Classroom:

If we look at this from the approach of the 5E’s of education and the 4C’s of common core it helps in a lot of areas.


For the 5E’s Microscope is great at the start of a unit as a way to Engage students is exploring a topic.   In history make sure students have books and online sources (if possible) and give them the bookends of a time period.  Example: World War 1:  nations ramp up nationalism and league of nations are great bookends.  Then let students explore the periods and events between in groups.

If it’s a literature class start the novel study with the bookends of the book.  I am a proponent of starting a book through exploring it.  Start the students with the beginning and end period of the book or chapters.  After let them flip through the book and add events and periods as they browse the book.  I know this is weird, but all the time teachers say students don’t want to read the novels.  The reason is they don’t realize why they are amazing books.  Let students browse the book and add periods, events, and details.  Let them see it out of order.  This way they will want to read the book to see what actually happened.  They will be confused, but also have questions.  Let students embrace that wonder and they will be more likely to want to read the book because they want to see what actually happens now that they have a lot of tidbits.

After Engaging students, it’s also a great tool for elaboration.  Bring students back to the timeline after they understand it a lot better.  Let them see how many more details they can add and realize how much more sense it makes after they have gained knowledge about.  It’s a powerful tool for students.


This lesson hits many of the 4C’s in a class.  Collaboration is all around when they build this timeline.  Communication is built in because students have to communicate about the events, the details, the periods and why they belong in a certain order.  The Focuses are also a very large part of communication as well.  Critical thinking is all around as students start to explore the details and the focuses and they really have to think hard of how events and details match a focus.  So it’s a powerful education lesson.

I hope people will try this newly revised way and it makes it much easier for teachers to use Microscope in the classroom.