Ask any student the following question; would you prefer to start the year with a lecture or playing a game? I'd wager the that nearly all learners would choose to spend their time with the game. As a younger student, I recall only being able to play in class once all of the curriculum was "done", usually at the end of the school year. Of course, we know that learners of all stripes acquire, apply, synthesize, and communicate knowledge through participation in games and simulations. As a result, there's a strong case to be made to embed complex critical thinking simulations and games right from the outset of the school year.
I'm currently putting the final touches on all of my lesson plans for the first term of both years of IB Global Politics. Here's a partial list of the games and simulations the students and I will be playing in the first thirteen weeks:
Against All Odds; Fish Forever; Half the Sky; Malaria in Wanzuzu; Model United Nations; Pandemic; Prisoner's Dilemma; Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock; Rushing River Cleanup; Survival; Tic-Tac-Toe; The Walking Dead
To say that I'm completely nerded out by all of this is an understatement; I can't (hardly) wait for school to start on the 26th!