Download Full Text (537 KB)


Educators of all levels are continuously looking for new ways to engage students with the content. Some post-secondary level instructors have embraced a unique method of role-playing games in their classrooms. Specially, many of these teachers have begun using Mark Carnes's pedagogy of Reacting to the Past. This method gamifies historical content to make it easier for students to relate to a diverse array of historical actors. To play these games, students must achieve a specific goal while pretending to be an assigned historical figure. Reacting to the Past lesson plans are one of a kind, high quality, peer-reviewed teaching tools. These games have been shown to enhance the learning experience for many students across age groups. This includes secondary level students. However, Reacting to the Past games are designed primarily for post-secondary classrooms, which leaves secondary level students and teachers at a disadvantage. They cannot use the games to their full potential because they are designed with different needs and standards in mind. For this reason, I designed a game modeled after Reacting to the Past for secondary level students. This game covers the topic of westward expansion of the United States, a subject that fits with many state standards. Students play as travelers and inhabitants of Westport, Missouri, in 1855. Reacting to the Past games can be extremely useful for student engagement across education levels as long as it accommodates appropriately to student needs.

Course: HON 486 Honors Capstone

Publication Date


Document Type



Pedagogy, Lesson Plan, Overland Trail, History, Honors


Secondary Education | United States History


Presented at the Spring 2021 Virtual UNDergraduate Showcase, Grand Forks, ND, May 6, 2021.

Overland Trail Game: A Lesson Plan