Konstruktivistisches Geschichtsspiel "Zwei zu Eins"
"Two to one" - a constructivistic and historical game-concept developed by Jens Binne
“Zwei zu Eins” (eng. „Two to one“) is a constructivistic and historical game with didactical intentions, based on competitive argument-based comparison of categorical similar historical aspects like personalities. The game can be played with at least three players, but should be played in bigger groups. It is designed mainly for usage in school environment, in order to strengthen competences of historical thinking. The Development could not be finished till know.
Thoughts behind the concept
This game pursues historic-didactical aims. It is designed in order to support improvement of the process of historical thinking as defined in the so called “Prozessmodell des historischen Denkens” (= processual model of historical thinking) by Körber and Hasberg.
The model elaborates four main and categorical aspects, which are important for the whole process of historical thinking and to be developed in order to improve the ability of historical thinking. These aspects are defined as the following competences:
(are the competences to ask and understand historical questions)
(are the methodical competences to re- and de-construct historical Narratives)
(is the complex of four sub-competences to gain orientation in time, which is also the central intention of the historical thinking)
(are “principles/categories/concepts/scripts” to cope with history)
“Zwei zu Eins” mainly intends to strengthen the Historische Sachkompetenzen (4) and the Historische Fragekompetenz (1) by historical comparison. Principles, categories, concepts and scripts can be fixed onto the playing cards whilst asking questions is necessary to compare them. The comparison based on arguments surely provokes considerations and judgements and may as well refer to personal knowledge. According to Körber and Hasberg the use of considerations, judgements and personal knowledge are part of the process of historical thinking and are modified during the process. Moreover historical orientation bases on them. “Zwei zu Eins” may provide a small support to the historical orientation, for the reorganisation of the handling of history on the basis of new knowledge, considerations and judgements may be possible as well as the restructuration of historical imagination.
The players are not forced to use any special category of arguments (e.g. only political aspects). The intention behind this concept is not only to provide a greater variety to argue, but to centre the constructivistic character of history as well. By this the game may support a critical, reflective and (self-)reflexive perception of history.
Although in future a greater stock of playing-cards shall be established, the mechanism of the game is still transferable and can be used to control the output or effects of a sequence of lessons in school environment, where pupils or teachers might draw cards according to the actual Theme.
“Zwei zu Eins” is a competitive game with cooperative and social elements. The competitive mode is the most common game mode in our culture and can be very motivating, but de-motivating as well. In order to diminish the de-motivating aspect the institution of the cooperative aspect seemed necessary and therefore was established within the single groups, where the group members will have to work together in order to find as many arguments as possible. Moreover on the scale of judgement of the arguments cooperation may take place, for every group at least once will have to judge over the other groups and therefore will have to cooperate in behalf of setting an intersubjective scale of evaluation, if they want to make sure, that themselves will not be judged to hard by the other groups when their turn will come to judge. So to strengthen the cooperative aspect it seemed to be necessary to set up at least three groups. Playing with only two groups – one judging and one arguing – might strengthen the competition for it might lead to unrighteous judgement. But with three groups more dynamic is possible.
Moreover the establishment of a setting, which demands for intersubjective evaluation, but sets no closer regulations of evaluation, supports the constructivistic aspect of the game and of history itself; people never posses all information about any historical aspect, but though will come to an opinion about it, with which other people may be more or less lucky.
Although “Zwei zu Eins” is a constructivistic  game it cannot secure, that a transfer of the intended effects will occur into real life situations – this is no Situated Cognition approach. At least it might provide some fun.
Rules of the game
Winning the game is possible by collecting the most points. In order to do so, the players draw cards and have to find historical arguments to separate one card from the others.
Materials of the game are mostly cards, which are bundled in the following decks:
Historical Personalities (at the moment nine cards)
Forms of rule (only some cards without hints/notes are existing)
and some unsorted/unfinished cards (also without any hints/notes)
Further categories are planned (see 3. Difficulties encountered)
Moreover it will be necessary to have
some sheets of paper,
a pen and
The cards are laid face down on the table, according to the decks they belong to (Historical Perso-nalities etc.). Afterwards the players form three equal teams, which are noted down. (Team A, B & C).
The game consists of three rounds with four phases each. At every beginning of one round a different team will start and play, another and different team will object and a third one will be the jury. So at the end of the three rounds every team has started, objected and has been the jury for one time.
The starting team chooses a deck and gives it to the jury. The jury mixes the deck and takes the upper three cards away, reads them and notes their names. After this the cards are shown to objecting Team which may notice the names of the cards (e.g. Luther, Caesar, Cleopatra), but has to give them back to the jury afterwards. Then those three cards are laid face down in front of the starting team.
By a sign of the jury, the staring team may reveal the cards. Now this team has two minutes to choose one of the cards and find historical arguments that shall prove that this card does not fit to the other two cards. The notes on the right side of each card can be used. The jury takes the time. When times up, the starting team has to tell the arguments and the jury will give points for them. Every argument, the jury accepts is a point. The only attribute to accept or to refuse is, that the argument has to be a historical one. So e.g. “man” or “woman” is no historical argument, except the starting team can argue why this attribute is of historical importance.
Now the objecting team is in charge. The three cards are given to them and it is up to the objectors to find arguments, why the card, the starting team has separated from the other two cards is the wrong one. So they got one minute to find arguments. When times up they have to tell the jury and the jury again can give one point for each historical argument they accept.
At the end of phase 3 the jury notates the points each of the two other teams has gained on the shed with the Groups and a new round will start with a different team starting, a different one objecting and a new jury. So after three rounds the winning team will be identified.
A) The teams agree to play more than one loop of three rounds before they start playing the game.
B) The teams may separate more than one card from the others within the given time (e.g. Martin Luther from Caesar and Cleopatra, then Caesar from both and if time is still sufficient Cleopatra from Caesar and Luther).
C) The teams create their own decks before starting to play. Watch out: maybe more sets of cards will be necessary to play this variant.
D) The teams develop their own cards, which the other teams will have to play, but have to be able to argue with their own cards if necessary.
For playing material and printable rules see V (Playing material and printable rules).
At a later step during the project planning a first trial-play took place, which figured out, that the first design was unplayable. The first conception, playing without time restrictions, lead to never ending phases.
In the established first version nine playable cards are finished, describing historical personalities of three different ages – Cleopatra and Caesar for the antique, Jeanne D´Arc and Karl the Great for the middle ages, Martin Luther, Napoleon, Otto v. Bismarck, Rosa Luxemburg and Adolf Hitler for the modern age. Although these persons names are well known it was quite difficult to figure out adequate aspects to describe those persons in short terms, because any selection preformes the possible arguments gathered by a first-look and without any further knowledge decisively.
It also emerged to be difficult setting up different categories like type of ruling, ages historical events and personalities. At first distinction had only been made between personalities and other historical phenomena. But this seemed to be to unifying, for it is easier to compare ruling-types among each other than to mix them up with historical events like the neolithical revolution or the crusades. So although the development of different categories is still in progress a more distinct and discussable tablet has been elaborated and can be downloaded at
Another task was to find pictures, which can be used freely without any copyright-restrictions. Luckily Wikimedia commons provides such pictures and this is why all pictures are gathered from Wikimedia commons. But even though there is only a restricted amount of pictures available on Wikimedia commons and although most of them can be freely used, some still bear more or less restrictions (e.g. citation of the author or prohibition of any alteration). So it took some time to find usable pictures and due to the limited amount of freely usable pictures it wasn´t able to create a straighter style.
Playing material and printable rules
The playing material can be freely downloaded at http://mms.uni-hamburg.de/epedagogy/mmswiki/index.php5/Image:Karten2zu1.pdf
(please print two to four playing cards per DinA4 sheet)
Printable rules are freely accessible as well at http://mms.uni-hamburg.de/epedagogy/mmswiki/index.php5/Image:Spielregeln2zu1.pdf
(please print two pages on one DinA4 sheet)
- ↑ Andreas Körber / Waltraud Schreiber / Alexander Schöner (Hrsg.): Kompetenzen historischen Denkens. Ein Strukturmodell zur Kompetenzorientierung in der Geschichtsdidaktik, [Kompetenzen: Grundlagen - Entwicklung- Förderung Bd.2], Neuried 2007.
- ↑ Translated from German; see Andreas Körber / Waltraud Schreiber / Alexander Schöner (Hrsg.): Kompetenzen historischen Denkens. Ein Strukturmodell zur Kompetenzorientierung in der Geschichtsdidaktik, [Kompetenzen: Grundlagen - Entwicklung- Förderung Bd.2], Neuried 2007, p.31.
- ↑ For closer information about the historical orientation see Hans Jürgen Pandel: Geschichtsbewusstsein. in: Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht Bd. 44. 1993, p.726.
- ↑ For closer information about the critical, reflective and (self-)reflexive aspects see Waltraud Schreiber: Basisbeitrag: Mit Geschichte umgehen lernen – Historische Kompetenz aufbauen, in: Waltraud Schreiber / Sylvia Mebus (Hg.): Durchblicken. Dekonstruktion von Schulbüchern. 2. überarbeitete Auflage. Neuried 2006, p.53.
- ↑ For closer information about constructivistic learning see http://dsor-fs.upb.de/~blumstengel/Konstruktivismus.html accessed on 16.03.2010.
- ↑ For closer information about the Situated Cognition approach see John Seely Brown / Allan Collins / Paul Duguid: Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning, in: Educational Researcher. 18(1). Jan-Feb 1989, pp.32-42.