(Quick Note: There is a short video walkthrough at the end of this post)
I have not felt like writing anything school related since March. I’ve been watching the news, taking care of my family as best I can, and generally despairing for the state of our nation.
One of the reasons I am so frustrated by our government leaders (besides the racist dog whistles that have now become foghorns) is the abysmally depressing response to the COVID-19 crisis. As I’m writing this it is being reported that President Trump is taking advice from a Dr. Atlas who suggests we should just wait for “Herd Immunity”. Of course, that would mean roughly 2 million of my fellow Americans will die and millions more will be left with other chronic conditions. My relatives with diabetes and down syndrome would certainly be in the former cohort. My kids haven’t seen my parents in over a year. Schools have become a political discussion now
My district feels it is safe to start our school year in a Hybrid Model because we are in a “Medium Spread” situation.
I am uncomfortable in this setting but I’ve been following our local school board debates fairly closely and do trust our local leaders a bit more. I am guessing that most of you reading this blog are in education so you all know what this is like.
So for the foreseeable future I will be masking up and teaching about half my students in person and half virtually on any given day. The safety goal of our in person meetings is to maintain our 6 feet of social distancing. I typically like to start the semester by playing board games – especially cooperative games or hidden identity games. I find that both types lead to more organic conversations and help to break down barriers more effectively than large group icebreakers. Last year’s class really enjoyed Secret Hitler.
This year I don’t want students getting close to each other or passing cards around though. I took this as a bit of a technical challenge and began playing around with Google Sheets to see how I could adapt this physical game into an in-person virtual game.
Similar to what I have done with the #DreadSheets model I wanted to have a game board to project, a “Game Master” sheet with all of the mechanics, and individual player sheets. Here is a link to My Secret Hitler Digital Mashup Folder . The sheets are all linked together with IMPORTRANGE functions so I have protected the pages so only I can edit. The areas with drop down menus as well as the individual player names section can be changed. Those areas with drop down menus are usually part of “IF” functions so they need exact spelling. Oh, and I changed the “Hitler” Card to “Fascist Leader”. Having a student being called a genocidal murderer made me cringe.
If you haven’t played Secret Hitler you can find the rules and download the whole game for free at secrethitler.com. I would suggest purchasing the game though. Also, I use this game as a way to start talking about American History. The game does a great job of opening a conversation about what it means to be Liberal or Fascist and the ways in which power can corrupt even a well meaning person. (SPOILER: one of the ways for Liberals to “win” is to kill Hitler before he is elected… but that means they are acting like a fascist state. That one blows the kiddos’ minds) Unfortunately, it is also an important discussion to have in our modern American context with actual literal Nazis running around and not being full throatedly condemned.
I made a short walk through video of the spreadsheets.