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Be Washington is a GREAT interactive created by the Mt. Vernon website. Students assume the role of George Washington and make decisions based on the information Washington received. There is closed caption so students can read along with actors and actresses.
As always, a teacher should preview the activity prior to using with students. Many U.S. History teachers will find this activity extremely useful. Students are completely engaged and there are many other activities that a teacher could create based on Be Washington.
The interactive has two different game modes, Host or Single Player option. I have found the host mode works best with a freshman U.S. History class. Teachers can adapt the activity to best fit the students needs.
Step #1: Select A Game Mode
Single Player Game: “The single player game includes the complete scenario, advisors, and all-time results.” This is a great option to assign the students the activity outside of class and for homework.
Host Game: “The hosted game requires a main (host) screen and individual devices to play. The host can control the pace of the game by playing and pausing the scenario. Each individual device will have access to advisors and the ability to vote on the final decision. Votes for each specific session are compiled and displayed on the host screen, in addition to all-time results.”
When hosting a game, there is a class code the students will used to join the game.
Join a Game: This is the option the students will use when a teacher hosts a game. Be sure to display the class code so all the students can join. Be sure all students have joined before starting the activity. The website has a great tool that shows the number of students who have registered.
Step #2: Pick a Scenario to Play I selected the Battle of Second Trenton.
- The Battle of Second Trenton (1777)
- The Newburgh Conspiracy (1783)
- The Genet Affair (1793)
- The Whiskey Rebellion (1794)
Christopher Jackson provides the background and directions for the activity. There are great visuals, maps, reenactments, and graphics. Once the introduction is complete, the game begins. The students will be able to listen to advice and make a decision. It is helpful to create a worksheet for students to take notes and reflection on choices made. (See below.)
Here is the situation. It’s December 1776. And the fate of the Revolution hangs in the balance. Only six months earlier, Congress boldly declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. But on the battlefield, General Washington’s Continental Army has been badly beaten and is a fraction of its former size. As winter settles in, defeat is in the air. British Commander General Howe is confident that if any remnants of Washington’s armies remain in the spring, they will be easily brushed aside. But General Washington daring crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night and his attack on Hessian forces in Trenton secures an unexpected American victory. The attack prompts British General Cornwallis to march a powerful army of elite troops South toward Washington’s position in New Jersey. Washington secures a defensive position on the southside of the swift flowing Assunpink Creek, hoping to draw the British into a costly assault. On the evening of January 2nd, Cornwallis and his elite troops arrive in Trenton. Unlike the first battle of Trenton, Washington faces a larger, more experienced enemy – one intent on his total destruction.
You are about to step into the boots of General Washington. As commander of the Continental Army will you:
- Stand firm and face Cornwallis’s elite troops
- Fall back to Philadelphia or
- Advance North into enemy occupied New Jersey
Just like General Washington, you will have to make your decision under pressure as a situation continues to evolve. You’ll be able to seek advice from various advisors who represent people and sources General Washington would have consulted. But, be aware they will offer contradictory opinions and you will not have time to hear from everyone. It will be up to you alone, to decide how strongly you agree or disagree with their advice and whether they will impact your decisions as the commander and chief of the Continental Army.
Now is your chance to “Be Washington.” It’s your turn to lead.
This is a good time for a teacher to pause the game and hand out the worksheet. Have the students rank the order they would like to consult the advisors. They also will explain the reasoning behind the top choice. (3 – 5 minutes)
Discuss with the students their reasoning.
Step #3 Play the Game (4:20) Students will independently interact with the advisors. The feedback will evaluated and the results will be shared at the end of the activity. It is a great asset for the class to compare reactions to the advice.
Here is a list of the advisors and their positons
1st set of Advisors
George Washington “Fall Back” (0:33):
Stacy Potts “Hold the Line!”
John Cadwalader “Advance”
Robert Morris “Fall Back”
Dispatch #1 (2:40): Pause the game: Have the students jot down the information that was share with them. Rank the feelings about the advice.
The information from the dispatch will help students make a more informed decision.
With the last of the day’s light fading, Cornwallis unleashes a series of frontal assaults on the American position.
[Joseph White] “The enemy came on in solid columns, we let them come on some ways. Then, by a signal given given, we all fired together. [Explosion] [Cannon ball hit]
The enemy retreated off the bridge and formed again, and we were ready for them. Our whole artillery was again discharged at them. [Explosion]
They came on a third time. We loaded witch canister shot and let them come nearer. We fired all together again, and such a distruction it made, you cannot conceive. [Cannon ball hit]
[Joseph White] The bridge looked red as blood, with they’re killed and wounded Redcoats.
The Continentals fought well today repulsing three determined assaults by the British, but Cornwallis’s Army remains a formidable foe. Tomorrow, a battle is certain. If the Americans lose it could mean the end of the Revolution. You must make a decision soon. You have four new advisors to hear from.
2nd group of advisors (2:38) Students will have additional time to meet with the new advisors.
Stephen Moylan “Hold the Line!”
Henry Knox “Fall Back”
Joseph White “Hold the Line!”
Joseph Reed “Advance”
Dispatch #2 (0:48) Pause the game: Have the students jot down the information that was share with them. Rank the feelings about the advice.
General Washington we observed scouting party. the British captain party exploring the Phillip’s Ford. if they determined If they return in force. I do not have the men to stop them.
“If the enemy uses that they could Crossing the with the icy Delaware River at our backs.”
“The consequences could prove fatal.”
Will the prospect of being flanked by the Redcoats affect your decision? You may seek advice from your advisors one last time. But make haste, there is little time left before the British renew their attacks
Start over. Most students will benefit from having a change to speak with ALL the advisors. The activity is designed to not allow the students had enough time to hear from everyone. The additional time will give students a better opportunity to process the information. I felt it the additional time would provide a more valuable learning experience for the students.
Hit the mute button so the students do not have to hear the directions for a 2nd time. Discuss the student experiences so far and field any questions.
Some possible discussion questions.
What was the best advice you received?
What advice did you most strongly agree with?
What advice die you most strongly disagree with?
Put a star next to the information you value the most?
What information did you disagree with most?
Once the activity gets to the point where students can interact, let the game continue without pausing.
Have the students make the choice. You have 10 seconds to cast your vote starting now.
Pause the game AFTER THE FINAL DECISION IS MADE. Have students write the reasoning behind the decision.
Re-start and play Washington’s decision.
Conclusion: Now let’s find out General Washington decided to do.
[General Washington] While a night march is perilous, we cannot kind of sit in our trenches and wait for Cornwallis to attack us. We could be flanked just as we were in Brooklyn the summer before. Nor can we retreat in the face of the enemy. This cause needs a victory, or at least a sense of initiative. Marchiing northeast to Princeton, New Jersey will avoid the appearance of retreat, which is of consequence. Dispatch a work party to build entrenchments near the ford. Let the nearby British sentinels believe that we are determined to stand our ground. Double the guards and have them keep blazing campfires till daybreak. With any luck our movement will be masked until dawn. Gentleman, we march to Princeton.
[Jackson] General Washington chose to slip away in the middle of the night and march deeper into enemy-held territory. British General Charles Cornwallis confident and unaware, planned his attack We’ve got the old fax now. We sahll bag him in the morning.”
Thanks to the successful deception and the tireless energy of Washington’s officers and soldiers, they arrive undetected at Princeton the morning of January 3rd 1777 and attack British forces marching south of town. [soldiers yell]
Washington himself led the final charge, that broke the British line and secured yet one more improbable victory on the field of battle. Washington’s night march to Princeton is widely considered by military experts to be one of the boldest advances in American military history and the victories in New Jersey, combined with the ever-increasing gorilla attacks, forced British commander General Howe pull his forces back towards New York City and give up the hard won gains of 1776 . Of even more sorrowful consequence, the victories at Trenton and Princeton contributed to the growing sense within the British ranks that this was a war that could not be won and it greatly impressed the French who would later become a powerful ally,
All-Time Results (December 2020)
22% Choose to Fall Back to Philadelphia
34% Choose to Stand Firm and Face Cornwallis
44% North into enemy occupied New Jersey
Dispatch: The British might be able to attack from the right flank.
Link to a teacher review of the activity.
Name period .
Be Washington: Second Trenton
1st group of advisors: Rank the individuals 1 – 4 based on the importance of speaking to them
Robert Morris (Congressman) Rate the advice
George Washington (age of 22)
John Cadwalader (Colonel)
Stacy Potts (citizen)
Explain in TWO sentences the most important reasons you selected the advisor as your top choice.
4 new advisors: Rank the individuals 1 – 4 based on the importance of speaking to them
“Continental Army Officer” / Stephen Moylan