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Introduction to the Simulation

Overview: PurpleState is a simulation that engages students in state level policy issues and explores the role of media in politics. As “interns” at PurpleState, a fictional political communications firm, students develop skills in argumentation and data literacy, and increase their confidence for engaging in civic action.

Structure: The simulation is split into two phases: 1) Intern Onboarding and 2) Design a Campaign. Intern Onboarding introduces the internship and scaffolds the concepts and skills employed in actual media campaigns and used by interns in the second phase of the simulation. Design a Campaign has interns work in teams to collaboratively design and pitch a media campaign on a state level policy issue.

Each phase is divided into tasks, and each task plan includes a big-picture framing, reflective questions, step-by-step descriptions of learning activities, potential informal assessments, and tips for implementation. Tasks are not necessarily designed to take place entirely in one class period. They are sets of activities that go together but can be split up synchronously or asynchronously based on what works best for your classroom.

Pedagogy: PurpleState uses an “engagement first” design where students engage in problem solving that requires them to seek out content and tools from the simulation resources as they need them. In this way, students learn through engaging in an authentic problem instead of being given information before applying it.

Teacher Role: In PurpleState, the teacher plays an account manager in our fictitious political communications firm. The teacher’s role is to support interns, push them to more deeply consider their work, and to sell the fiction of the internship. We encourage teachers to be creative in their roles as account managers. We also encourage teachers to help students connect what they learn in the simulation with what they are seeing locally in terms of political advertising and information sources they engage with.

Timing: The simulation takes approximately 10 hours of class and out-of-class work time, depending on how teachers implement the simulation and extend any activities. Extension activities can significantly increase the time needed or can be used to turn individual tasks into standalone activities.

Resources: All resources are accessible to teachers through the PurpleState website. Resources in red text are accessible by students within the PurpleState app, and resources in blue text are only available to teachers through the PurpleState website.