I have a Year 9 Elective Geography class this year and we are just starting the Global Citizenship topic. The topic starts by looking at what citizenship is, roles and responsibilities of citizens and moves on the explore global citizenship and and global challenges. In the first lesson I raised the idea of learning part of the topic through a community/city simulation without having thought the idea through entirely, The students loved the idea. I was thinking that it would be based loosely on a game like SimCity (old school I know) but run more like the way Australian Business Week runs. Students would work as a class and in groups to make decisions about the city and its operation, while learning about concepts like understanding varying perspectives, global awareness, intercultural understanding, shared responsibility and sustainability. I would provide resources and responses to their actions which would drive how the town was running, the interactions between citizens and their exposure to global issues.
The lesson sequence includes the standard kind of activities where we brainstorm the characteristics of an ideal citizen, discuss the roles and responsibilities of citizens and how Australian citizens are connected to the world. Students completed practice citizenship tests found here: Australian citizenship practice test
Setting up the town simulation
Designing the town
Students were provided with some time to work together to create the town. This was a paper-based, cut-and-paste craft activity, which the students seemed to really enjoy. It was a bit "primary school" but I think occasionally the students like being off their computers and doing something hands-on. To build the city we used Paper Cities made by Joel.
A vote was held to name the town: Thneedville
The students were given a set of 20 characters and were able to choose their character. I gave them the option of writing their own character if they wanted to. The descriptions of the characters include a name, age, occupation, gender, marital status and number of children. Students were also provided with a description of how their character displays active citizenship in their city.
I used Chat GPT to create the characters using the following prompt:
Create 20 brief descriptions of characters that are representative of people living in a medium sized town in Australia. Include their name, age, nationality, job, religion, marital status, number of children.
Town profile and creation
Students were provided with a town profile which included: location, population, population characteristics, employment by industry, age profile, income, dominant industries, economic development, and social issues.
The ChatGPT prompt to create this was:
Create a community profile for an imaginary town called Thneedville. Include information about population size and make up, employment by industry, age profile, income, dominant industries, economic development, social issues. Base the community profile on the island of King Island in Australia.
Electing the Mayor
Students were asked to nominate themselves if their "character" was willing to run for Mayor. Students worked in groups to briefly develop election campaigns and a Mayoral election was held. A series of newspaper articles were provided that discussed the inauguration of the town and election fo the Mayor.
The following Chat GPT prompt was used to create an article about the election of the Mayor:
Write a mock newspaper article about a person who has just been elected Mayor of a town called Kneadville which is located on a small island. His election platform was carbon neutral energy, increasing taxes for the rich to invest in social initiatives for the town. Details about the person are: Name: Thomas Wilson
Job: Retired school principal Religion: Christian (Catholic) Marital Status: Widowed Number of Children: 2
These resources took absolutely no time to create, and I was able to easily incorporate information from class discussions into the resources. One of the students commented, "Miss you've done so much work to prepare for this lesson". I told the students that all the resources had been created with Chat GPT, and that I was doing an experiment with them to see how it would work. I explained that I would be able to create resources very quickly that were responsive to what we had been talking about he previous lesson. The students were happy to explore how it would turn out.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the Geoactive text book series.