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What are Decision Making Activities?

The activity model provided by, for example, the King John: the Decision-Making Game can be used with a variety of age-ranges, varying the level of detail and the number of decisions to suit ability and concentration levels.

The idea is straightforward – present students with a range of decisions, each with two or three options to choose from. To make the activity competitive or give it an edge, make sure that students can win or lose. In this case, students begin with a number of crowns but foolish decisions (not necessarily different ones from those John took) leads to losing crowns. A series of bad decisions leads to deposition. The historical value comes in the debriefing as you unpick their decisions and the reasons behind them.

Example Activities

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Such an activity provides students with an outline of the key issues of the period, plus an introduction to people and events. I found these activities particularly useful at A level where they are best used as an introduction to a topic, providing a first layer of knowledge and therefore creating an effective framework for reading. Students read more confidently and effectively if first introduced to the issues by such an activity.

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Improving Class Dynamics

This model of activity is also excellent for improving the dynamics with a class – it provides a structured framework for discussion and the competitiveness as groups struggle to see who keeps their crowns longest helps newly-formed classes relax with each other. At A level a revision activity would be to ask a group of students to write their own decision-making activity on a topic.

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Inside a Past Situation

This section includes other variations on the decision-making model but what they have in common is putting students ‘inside a past situation’ and asking them to try to think from that contemporary standpoint. No matter if they get the answers wrong because that’s revealing, that shows what’s not understood and identifying those misconceptions is another key benefit of these activities.

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Example Activities

How can you spend less time in purgatory?

A simple activity to develop understanding of the importance of religion in the Middle Ages and beyond.

Big Brother meets History of Medicine: Debating Significance

Who was the most significant figure in Ancient Medicine? Was it really Hippocrates or would you chose someone else?

King John; The Decision–Making Game

Can your students do better than King John or will they lose their crowns?

The decisions of a Kentish villager: 1381

Will your decisions improve life for you and your family or lead to death as a rebel?

Henry VII Survival Game

A decision-making activity which introduces the key events of Henry’s reign

William Cecil’s Dilemmas 1547-1558

A short decision-making introduction to the key events of 1547-58 for A level students.

Elizabeth I – Survival Game

A decision-making activity for A level which introduces the key events of Elizabeth’s reign.

Who Will Hang? Unpredictability of the Bloody Code

Bring the accused to court to tell their stories. Can the rest of the class predict who will receive the death penalty? Why was the legal system so unpredictable?

What's on the Agenda?

Get your next A level topic off to a demanding start by turning your class into the royal council, the cabinet or the Politburo.

Dilemma Based Learning - with an example for the Holocaust

Julia Huber introduces her use of dilemmas for motivating students and improving their decision-making.

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This page

What is decision–making?

Some benefits

Class dynamics

Inside the situation


Example Activities


Other Activity Areas

Using Activities

Types of Activities

Hot Seating

Washing Lines

Timelines & Living Graphs

Role Plays


Decision Making

Physical Maps & Family Trees

Archaeology & Mysteries

Creating Communities

Market Place

Miscellaneous Models

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