Today’s post comes from Reagan Library Education Department staffer Brett Robert.
You can see it on the faces of students and teachers alike… The blank gaze into the distance that could almost be a “thousand yard stare,” were it not for that little gleam in the eye. Their lips curving up ever so slightly in faint smiles of relief and anticipation of freedom to come; post-finals week exhaustion also written on their faces. Finally. The papers are graded, the desks are cleaned out, the walls of your classroom seem just a little bare, the students are gone: summer is here!
In between all of the globe-trotting, fine dining, and hob-knobbing with the rich and famous, doesn’t every high school teacher face the same dilemma: how to fill all of that glorious free time over the summer?
If you can spare a few hours, the Education Department at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum would like to cordially invite you to attend one of our Situation Room Experience Open Houses this summer. These open houses are designed to familiarize high school teachers and educators with our new 75-minutes simulation that will be available beginning in the fall of 2016 for high school field trips. This is a brand new addition to the museum, and these three summer open houses will likely be among very few opportunities for educators to experience the simulation as “players” themselves. The Situation Room Experience is a fully immersive, role playing environment that will transport students into a high-stakes, fast-paced decision-making arena as they face a constitutional crisis scenario based upon historical fact. This 21st century classroom experience is aligned with national Social Studies Standards, California Social Studies Standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills; and College Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.
Unlike the many tedious lectures and videos on district hand-washing policy, safe lifting technique, student privacy, et cetera., et cetera., ad nauseum, that teachers often spend their summer taking in, this is a chance for you to be a part of the simulation itself. For 75 minutes you will act as a member of the President’s cabinet or media to make decisions with real-time consequences. You might find yourself as the Secretary of Defense pondering whether to put the nation’s military on high alert. Maybe you’ll be a Digital Correspondent for a major network and be forced to decide how much corroboration you need before sending out a tweet in the network’s name while racing to scoop the other networks.
“Having played in the simulation myself as the White House Counsel, I can assure you that it’s fun and fast paced. Updates were constantly coming in via the tablet in my hands, or streaming on the closed-circuit televisions, and the clock was ticking on every decision. Everything was intensified by the fact that while I was being asked my opinion on the application of the United States Constitution I was sitting at the same conference table that had been in the Situation Room’s Secure Communication Site at 1600 Pennsylvania Street. At this same table Presidents sat at moments of great crisis, carefully considering the perils facing the nation in the company of their trusted advisors and top officials.” — Master of History Candidate at CSUN
After teachers have the chance to come out and play a role in the simulation, we’re confident the Situation Room Experience will be in high demand in the coming years. Along with the simulation we offer a pre- and post- visit curriculum that you can bring to your students to ensure that your learning objectives are met. By giving your students the opportunity to act as members of the Executive Branch or the media, you can witness concepts that can be otherwise confusing become clear and meaningful to your students. Many seventeen-year old students have too many things competing for their interest to gain an appreciation for the differences between a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and the White House Counsel. Often these concepts come alive when they take on concrete form during a simulation that sparks students’ natural curiosity.
Click the link below to register for one of the Open House simulations and see for yourself if that the Situation Room Experience is a good fit for your high school students in American Government, Civics, AP United States History, U.S. History, English, and other disciplines.