Looking for a fun, collaborative, and engaging way to present and discuss concepts in your class? Have your students join tribes, argue their case, make alliances, compete in immunity challenges, search for immunity tokens, and face Tribal Council in Social Studies Survivor!
The concept is fairly straightforward. Students are divided into groups as part of one large tribe. Each group represents a topic or concept from a certain curricular area of socials studies, and the goal of each group is to be voted the sole survivor of the island. You can do this with any subject – Progressive leaders, forms of government, Chinese dynasties, economic systems … whatever you can think of! My favorite is the Bill of Rights – here’s the story of Survivor – Bill of Rights Island!
Students come to class with background from an overview video of Amendments 2-9 (we have already examined the First Amendment). I divide them into nine groups for each of the amendments when they come into class. After introducing the Survivor concept (most kids still get the idea), I explained that we are trying to find out which Amendment should be the sole survivor on the Bill of Rights Island. The group task is to write a one minute speech arguing why their amendment should stay on the island. They can also use the time to make any alliances if they wish.
After each statement is read in class, I debrief about the amendment for a few minutes, reinforcing the rights that are protected and limited and answering any questions. After the nine statements have been read, I also offer groups 30 seconds to say which amendment should be voted off the island.
For voting, I have done two formats. I used a simple poll on Poll Everywhere. Each student (not each amendment) received a vote – but I could easily do it with each amendment getting a vote. If two tie for the top spot, I kick them both off to save time. Any team that is voted off the island will be on the jury, determining the winner from the final three. Recently, I went to representatives from each amendment coming up and writing down their team decisions, placing them into a Bill of Rights mug, and then reading them like Jeff Probst. That’s way more fun … especially when I snuff out their fake LED candles! (I have always wanted to be the teacher version of Jeff Probst – what a guy!)
After the first round of voting, I open the floor for another two minutes of discussion about who should stay or go and alliance making. Some kids make decisions based on the amendments, while others will do a popularity contest. I like both, because students will question each other’s rationale based on their understanding of the amendment. I can also offer observations.
I use the immunity concept as well. Quick trivia questions are great for giving immunity, as is a quick five question quiz or contest for the groups. I also hide a hidden immunity idol (or slip of paper) somewhere in my room or online.
Once you get to the top three, each individual has the opportunity to vote for the final one, the Sole Survivor of Bill of Rights Island. It’s usually Amendment 9! I don’t include Amendment 1 because it may easily win, but why not have one more?
The activity offers a fun way to look at the amendments, gets kids to make quick impromptu speeches, fosters collaboration and communication in small and large groups, and engages them with some popular culture. Good times – especially on a Friday!
You can use the ideas with civilizations, leaders, inventions, you name it – and if the rightful one doesn’t win, then it’s just like an actual season of Survivor.
Could this activity be done through distance learning? Possibly! Students can be divided into virtual groups and make their statements in Flipgrid, on a Google Meet meeting, or in a monitored chat room – and voting could be done using an online voting system like Poll Everyhwere.
Give it a try – kids love it, and it’s fun to be the host. Let our #PLN know how it goes!