2012 Institute: Concurrent Session Resources

Concurrent sessions allow institute participants to explore issues related to student learning, the art of teaching in the RTTP classroom, game development, and liberal education more generally.  Topics for the 2012 institute will include:

Sessions Recommended for Newcomers: "Inside the Liminal Classroom" Series

Part I. Setting Minds on Fire:  An Introduction to “Reacting to the Past”
Keynote Speaker: Mark C. Carnes, Professor of History at Barnard College and Executive Director of “Reacting to the Past”
In his keynote address, Carnes argues that problems of student disengagement, retention, and poor learning have long been endemic to higher education.  This he blames on most students’ absorption in “subversive play worlds.”  He calls for embracing intellectualized variants--such as Reacting to the Past--as a way to reinvigorate higher education.  Followed by Q&A with John Burney (Doane College), Chair of the Reacting Consortium Board, and Nicolas Proctor (Simpson College), Chair of the RTTP Editorial Committee.

Part II. The Student Experience
Students reflect on both the benefits and challenges of learning through RTTP. Topics include assessment of writing and speaking; lingering personal resentments; work management; and more.

Part III. Instructor/Gamemaster: RTTP and the Art of Teaching
Panelists: Ann Engar, University of Utah; Jeffrey Hyson, Saint Joseph's University; Anne Osborne, Rider University (Moderator); Rebecca Stanton, Barnard College
Veteran instructors field questions on how to "teach" when students do all the talking; how to get students engage; and how to grade and assess student performance.

Special Topics Sessions

The Case for Chapter-Length Reacting Games
Panelists: Tony Crider, Elon University; David Henderson, Trinity College
Faculty are increasingly interested in chapter-length games to complement the existing offering of full-length Reacting to the Past games. These shorter games have several advantages. New faculty can easily try out a single week-long chapter with a reacting game as part of a survey course. Students can experience the process of reacting quickly before taking on a full-length game. Authors can write and play test a game multiple times in a single year. We will discuss in this panel the key differences in form and use between chapter-length and full-length reacting games. |  View Presentation

Community Forum: Revising the Athens Game
Facilitator: Mark C. Carnes, Barnard College
The authors of The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 B.C., seek input, specific as well as procedural, for a major revision of the game.

Game Design and Development
Panelists: Nicolas Proctor, Simpson College; Tony Crider, Elon University
Panelists will lead a discussion about some basic game-design issues, as well as the process by which full-length RTTP games and chapter-length games are best designed and developed. This will include an explanation of the functioning of the new RTTP Editorial Board. |  View Presentation

Life After the Game: the Post-Mortem, Reflection Exercises, and Student Engagement
Facilitators: Mary Conley, College of the Holy Cross; Paula Kay Lazrus, St. John’s University
What happens when a game ends? This discussion explores how the end of the game can be an opportunity to reflect on many facets of the game-- not only on corroborating historical realities with the game’s outcomes, but also to consider aspects of student choices and leadership. Different speakers highlight their approaches to post-mortem sessions, different types of assignments they use to facilitate student reflection on lessons learned, as well as methods to transition from one game to another or from the game into new themes of the course.

Practicing Interdisciplinarity, Embracing Dissonance: Two Case Studies in the Pilot and Post-Pilot Phases of “Reacting to the Past”
Facilitators: Paul Wright, Cabrini College; William Woods, Schreiner University
Presenters: Robyn Suchy, Cabrini College student; Rexford Quick, Schreiner University; Thomas Woods, Schreiner University ’15
Large-scale RTTP curricular initiatives are laboratories for thinking about, teaching, and assessing interdisciplinarity—both as classroom practice and as a lived experience. Interdisciplinarity is an ethos and not merely technique; this ethos presumes important affective consequences of dealing with cognitive dissonance in the subjects we profess. Panelists from two institutions share their challenges and opportunities in “thinking big” with RTTP initiatives at schools that had never before embraced the pedagogy. At Cabrini, all entering Honors students now reside in an RTTP living and learning community. At Schreiner, all first-year students now engage with RTTP in mandatory Interdisciplinary Studies courses.

Speaking to Connect: Teaching Public Speaking Skills to "Reacting" Students 
Presenter: Lily Lamboy, Stanford University
Lamboy teaches faculty members how to integrate a quick public speaking curriculum into a Reacting classroom. The curriculum is comprised of a series of short videos (2-5 minutes each) that introduce six critical speaking skills: eye contact, posture, pacing, fluency, gesture, and tone. Participating students will see each skill modeled and will then practice each skill with a partner, with partners offering feedback in between each practice. In this session, Faculty will be introduced to the videos, will practice some of the skills, and will learn about how to implement the curriculum in their own classrooms.

Using RTTP in Community Colleges, Open Enrollment, and Commuter Schools
Facilitators: Lisa Cox, Greenfield Community College; Mark Higbee, Eastern Michigan University; Kamran Swanson, Harold Washington College
“Reacting to the Past” has a record of working wonderfully at more selective colleges and universities, or amongst honors classes elsewhere. But the games depend on high attendance and a critical mass of students who are eager to engage the game, do outside independent work, and who organize faction meetings outside of class. But what happens when your student body’s habits make this a more difficult task? Can RTTP be used effectively? Join us for a discussion on adapting games to these environments, whether you are a veteran reactor or thinking about whether RTTP is right for your class.  |  Sample Assignments and Assessment Rubrics

What Did I Do Wrong? The Reacting Class that Flops
Facilitators: Gretchen McKay, McDaniel College; Rebecca Livingstone, Simpson College
In an open discussion, participants will explore strategies for dealing with RTTP classes that, for numerous reasons, flop.  It happens to the best of us.  So how does one deal with the frustration of the game that just does not seem to work?  What might be going on and going wrong?  Is it you or the students?  This session allows for instructors to discuss and develop strategies to help get games back on track and learning when to just let it go to find the teachable moment.

Click here to view the Call for Proposals.