We are beginning our study of Africa next week. I wanted to begin in a different way. Something other than the usual reading intro and mapping labs. Something that might be more engaging. “Who wants to play a game?” I asked. Not surprisingly, every hand shot up. “Alright! We are going to play The Explanation Game!”
If you are unfamiliar, The Explanation Game is a visible thinking strategy that can be used in many ways involving students in an upcoming activity. In this instance, I wanted to pique their introduce them to Africa using pictures, without telling them that the pictures were of places in Africa. I purposely chose photographs of terrain, modern cities, neighborhoods, and beaches that could be mistaken for other parts of the world.
As they studied each picture with their partners and responded in writing to what they saw, where they think the place was, and what made them think that, my intention was to break the stereotypical cycle of thought about what Africa is like: savannahs, deserts, grass huts, giraffes, lions…
Not there is anything wrong with those images, but Africa is so much more! When they found out later that what they were looking at were photographs of Africa, there were many utterances of surprise.
“Welcome to Africa!” I was excited to open the door and invite them in to a new way of thinking.