Thursday, March 7, 2013

Teaching Historical Globalization

A question came in today from a social studies teacher in Alberta, Canada who was interested in using the game to teach a unit on Historical Globalization.

Below, are some quick notes about Global Challenge and how it can be used in such a class:


Global Challenge is a game format which fits most any social studies class.

  1. For this particular class, you would simply have students write up questions according to your class objectives. 
  2. As students play, they will basically get a sense of how globalization works, i.e. the interdependence and interconnectedness of nations.
  3. Per your instructions, they can set up trade relations, negotiations, currency exchange, etc.
  4. Students will also see the economic disparity between nations, as per capita income of a nation is a key component of the game. 
  5. Certainly, you can interrupt game play at any time to insert a related unit plan or to engage students in a discussion about the relation of the game to actual current events.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reviews of Global Challenge


I really appreciate you getting me a copy of this last month. As I prepare for my upcoming school year I am very intrigued by it, and how I might assimilate it into my current curriculum to enhance my current units/lessons. I am considering some modifications to make it "fit" better with my program, routines and curriculum.

That said, I am very impressed with it on paper, and can really see where it could totally enhance learning and student motivation. This is giving me great food for thought as I ponder how far I want to jump into this and experiment with it in my world history classes - as it would require some major cuts in units to free up time for it. Thanks for putting the possibility out there for all of us that have inquired about Global Challenge! 

-- Jeff Smith, MA. Ed 


I have initiated Global Challenge this year and I am getting a great response from my kids.  As you know I teach students who have emotional and social disabilities.  I have made a few changes to make it work for my classroom situation.  I will list them below:

1.  The kids fight for more armies and take over unclaimed countries from the world map when they earn 10 armies.  Each country starts with three armies. 

2.  Kids do battle with each other and there are three rounds of battles where each student can win another army or lose one. 

3.  For each round I have set it up where the students turn in Blooms Taxonomy questions they developed from their notes.  I then ask them their own questions back at them.  I do this because the students are all learning different subjects within one class.
The kids are showing lots of excitement in earning armies.  I am in the process of creating an excel chart to track categories like gdp, population, land area, imports and exports.  After each unit we identify a winner for each category.

That is just a brief summary of what is going on.  I feel I have a lot more to organize to continue making it work with my class, but we are off to a great start!  I will get you another update closer to Christmas.

Eric Riester
Social Studies Teacher
To see other reviews / comments concerning Global Challenge, please see: 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Game Based Learning for Social Studies Teachers / Workshop Information

 A quick search on Google or Twitter of the terms “Gamify” and "Game-based learning" will show you that this topic is getting a lot of attention right now.  Schools and organizations are turning their attention to the power of games and projects and how they motivate people to learn and perform. In the business world, many companies have turned to game or point-based systems in order to motivate employees and customers.  Before terms like “gamification,” presenter Lee Chazen began by taking a simple game – then adding layer upon layer of content and ideas in order to teach his world history classes. Continuing in this manner, year after year, he eventually put his entire curriculum into a game format and called it Global Challenge. The game grew in popularity over the years, was featured on local news, eventually became a community access TV game show and is now sold online to teachers across the country.  This workshop will show you the importance of games and projects, why they work so well and how you can set up Global Challenge (or a game like it) in your classes. 

Questions or comments?

Send your inquiries here

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How do you play Global Challenge?

  1. Students are randomly distributed approximately 190 cards - representing the countries of the world.
  1. They are given the choice to either protect the countries they have, acquire new countries or work for peace.
  1. In order to pursue their goals (of peace, new territory or maintaining their land) they have to correctly answer questions from the text book (details of how this is done are in the rule book).
  1. Students write out 20 game questions each week - in seven categories (see rule book for details).
  1. All class assignments, quizzes and tests convert to Global Challenge Dollars -- and are then used for purchases (armies, weapons, etc.)
  1. At the end of play (usually 20 rounds) winners are determined in several categories.
  1. Students have the option to pursue peace by answering questions correctly and declaring half (roughly 95 countries) safe from attack.
  1. Teachers and students are free to modify the game to suit the purposes of the class.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Do Students Learn by Playing Global Challenge?

The whole concept of Global Challenge allows for the participants to recognize their strengths and, just as importantly, to search out the strengths of others. What students ultimately find out is that there is no way to win alone. One cannot be successful without respect and tolerance for team members. 

One of the most important features of Global Challenge is that different styles of learning are actually rewarded. It is highly recommended that as students make alliances and put together their teams, they take into consideration different areas of expertise, picking the financial genius, the diplomat, the strategist and so on. In this way, all the students can more fully discover and develop their particular strengths. 

Students soar through the textbook, Internet and maps in search of questions that are broken down into seven categories. After all, how much learning takes place when one answers Houghton Mifflin's version of an important question at the end of each chapter? But have students write their own questions, which they answer for points, money and political influence and one has just guaranteed intrinsic motivation. Handing in homework on time guarantees the student and his team 20,000 dollars. No dirty looks from the teacher when a student fails to turn in homework… just less money to enter into the checkbook and not so friendly looks from teammates. 

This is how things operate in a free market place. And for those that get behind, do we consider social welfare, or is it survival of the fittest? This makes for interesting class discussions, or interesting unit on economics or human nature. Don't think that the teacher never gets involved. Quite the opposite -- the teacher will have to think constantly to keep up with the changes rapidly taking place in this free thinking market place of ideas… a video on philosophy here, a lecture on economics there, conflict resolution… all self perpetuating, idea driven, emotions, psychology all the human factors that make this a true microcosm or small universe. 

In the end, the students have had a chance to synthesize a wide variety of information in the context of a unified curriculum. English, math, social studies and science are meshed with finance, communication and organization to provide the students with cohesive real world skills that will serve them well as they move on to college and/or the work place. There will be aggressors and peaceniks, and those who walk the middle attempting to stay out of the fray, but no one is uninvolved or escapes decision making or contribution to the whole in some way. This is a classroom experience, and all get to see for themselves the patterns of history. More importantly, the student discovers where he or she fits in the context of the world.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Than a Classroom Game

How do you get students to cover 40 chapters of a text book, write out and answer 400 of their own questions and take notes on over 1,000 facts?  Answer: have them play Global Challenge.

Global Challenge:

  • allows students to write up as many as 400 of their own questions.
  • prepares students for tests.
  • teaches real work skills.
  • allows you to easily integrate your own curriculum.
  • rewards students in different areas of intelligence.

Global Challenge is more than just a game, but is a semester-long project which teaches geography, history, government and more.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Learning from the bottom up

What if learning in the classroom was more of an emergent process like the growth of a city as in the game Sim City? What if one idea were to lead to the next to where students needed very little supervision and where they covered the educational bases but also developed areas of their own interest? Welcome to the world of Global Challenge. 

Global Challenge is a unique opportunity for students to live in a microcosm or world within a world. In this book, the world is laid out in easy to follow steps. Teacher and student follow these steps with daily activity guides. But once it starts, anything can happen. Sure, the patterns of history are all the same, but outcomes are different. “A” students become challenged and your former “F” students see a chance for success. In the end everyone wins and there is something for every type of student and every type of learner.

It starts with the random distribution of United Nations countries. From there, students begin their research to find population, capital, per capita income, gross domestic product, historical and cultural facts. This is the basis for all game strategy. Students quickly learn about geography, economics and the politics of world power before the game even starts.

Just like the ever-changing world we live in, classroom dynamics change weekly as the class simulates the migratory and social patterns of history. Students start alone, but quickly form alliances. Nations emerge, and towards the end of the semester, we have all the conditions of the cold war.
By reading this book, you will quickly learn how to get your students to devour information from the textbook, magazines, newspapers and Internet. All information is now money, protection, power or the key to peace. No longer just test material, knowledge becomes power, freedom, and peace. You will learn how to organize information into seven categories, and how to create a classroom economy out of all work. Students will actually ask you if they can compile extra information, or do extra work for money.

In fact, a furry of activity will take place just because of the economy that you have created. Students will meet on their own at lunch, before or after school, at home, or online. Don’t be surprised when you see your “F” student in the library with maps and books. Instructions for creating the map, game cards, game questions, checkbooks and point systems are all detailed inside. Topics for discussion, research projects, possible scenarios, lessons for anger management are all contained inside this book. In fact, a full semester is all laid out for you. Self contained and self managed, Global Challenge will allow you to leave your class if necessary. You might just be able to attend a meeting, meet with a parent or take care of your paper work.