VOXPOP

Simulations show how history is shaped by many

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Expert evaluation by Common Sense

Grades

6–12

Subjects & Skills

Communication & Collaboration, Critical Thinking, English Language Arts, Social Studies

Price: Free
Platforms: Web

Pros: The video-based role-plays are self-contained and very thoughtfully made.

Cons: Could offer more depth and prep, especially for the cases that involve heated political issues or historical injustices. Lacks video transcripts and multilingual support.

Bottom Line: These free simulations make staging role-plays manageable for teachers and engaging for students.

How Can I Teach with This Tool?

The VOXPOP website gives teachers the opportunity to use role-play-based simulations to explore essential events from American history. With almost all preparation and materials included in the VOXPOP site, you can involve your class in an active examination of Shay's Rebellion, the Nullification Crisis, the Dorr Rebellion, the New Deal, the Pullman Strike, and the response to the AIDS epidemic. VOXPOP will take care of assigning students to different stakeholder roles, provide all the materials for understanding basic content and perspectives, and help you facilitate students' analysis and discussion of how the United States evolved. They even offer suggestions for how you might use it during a 60-minute class or split it between two periods.

Though the simulations don't "cover" all the content related to each of these formative moments in American history, you can use the simulations to have each student learn essential content through active participation and analysis of competing ideas. Most importantly, you can help students understand that almost all important historical changes are not simply a series of events but the result of many people's struggle, advocacy, and sharing of perspectives. Each one- to two-class period simulation could function as either an introduction or a final activity in a unit. Having some primary source documents or other ancillary materials that teachers could use if they want to explore topics in more depth would be a great addition, and more accessibility and multilingual supports would be ideal. This would also help teachers and students prep to dig into some of the more charged political issues the scenarios get into. These scenarios, like history, are often fraught and touch on issues of race and even slavery. Teachers will want to approach these issues delicately and spend extra time prepping students for how to approach the topics and stakeholders responsibly. Teachers might also want to explore stakeholders that aren't represented and why they might be missing from political discussions.

That said, VOXPOP is a remarkably well-designed free resource that can make history come alive for students without hours of teacher prep time.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating
Engagement

VOXPOP brings important eras and events to life for students and gives them real agency in the role-play process. 

Pedagogy

Though a more in-depth exploration would be even better, VOXPOP seeks to help students meaningfully understand how different people and perspectives shape history. 

Support

VOXPOP provides a full set of classroom materials and a comprehensive set of how-to supports for teachers. Transcripts and multilingual materials would help all students participate. 

Common Sense reviewer
James Denby
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

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