I was first introduced to Squaducation via Twitter, after a suggestion by a fellow History teacher to follow their account and check out their website. When I and three other History teachers came together to organise the first national Teach Meet for History Teachers, #TMHistoryIcons March 2016, we felt
it was important that we had supportive sponsors who would be relevant to the event. Squaducation sponsored and supported the event as well as presenting on the day. Kevin Hicks opened the session with a very moving, personal and honest account of some of his own experiences in the military. He spoke about how he regularly shares his stories with children across schools in the UK and the different reactions he has received. This passion and knowledge lends itself perfectly to Squaducation, Kevin and his lovely partner Julie are the directors. Squaducation is a must website for all History teachers! I do wish I had come across this site sooner. If you aren’t familiar with the website then you can sign up for a free trial to check it now and find out for yourself. The website offers sixty second video clips from different historical periods that are studied as part of the British History curriculum. This website is also great for Primary School teachers, focusing on a History based project. On the site you can easily find teacher support notes for each topic, available to download as a PDF to assist teachers and help to embed the resources into schemes of work. There are also a range of interesting blogs to read exploring different Historical periods and ideas for the History classroom.
Although I have relocated to teach in the UAE, I am still teaching the British Curriciulm at a British College overseas. I previously taught History for six years at Elfed High School North Wales, teaching Key Stage three, GCSE and A-Level History. I have found the website to be an excellent resource. It is very simple and straightforward to navigate and use. There are different options from eras, topics, resources and characters to select from. I like the fact the videos are sixty seconds as they are a quick and easy way to engage students whilst also containing very relevant and interesting historical information. Below are some tried and tested ideas and different ways the sixty second videos can be used within the History classroom.
Transition or introduction to History.
There are some very useful videos that explain BC/AD and timelines. These can be difficult concepts for students to grasp but they are explained clearly. The videos could be shown on a transition day for a taster lesson, in Primary Schools or a good way to start Year 7 with an overview and introduction to History covering the basic yet essential key points!
The video clips are a great hook to engage learners and can link with lesson outcomes. There are also a series of activities that can be used with the video as well, as part of the starter activity or a great way to start the lesson and promote class discussions.
Students have to watch the video very carefully then in their own words provide a definition of a key word used within the video. For example, there is a video explaining what the term Slave means. This would be a great video to show at the start of that topic and help students understand key terminology.
Give me 5!
There are a variety of ways to do this. Simply watch the video and students have to recall five key facts or words from the video clip. This can be done by writing on paper hand templates or students draw around their own hands and write in the information in each finger and thumb. Another way can be to write on a post it note, entrance ticket or in their books.
This game is fun but may require another adult to help. In pairs students number themselves one and two or A and B. The number two students have to stand outside for sixty seconds whilst the number one students watch the video clip. Then the number two return and the number one have to describe the video in as much detail as they can, including as much information as possible. Then the video can be shown again so the number two students can see how much their partners were able to recall.
Another simple activity is to list. This can be listing key words used in the video, list key facts, list key dates, list questions they want answered etc.
There are several character videos where actors are taking on the role of a slave or soldier. This would be great for an empathy task for the student to put themselves in their shoes and think of questions they would like to ask the historical character.
Another option is that students create their own sixty seconds History video clip. This is a great group activity to do as it develops a range of skills whilst consolidating and illustrating their historical knowledge. Students can model their video on the sixty second History clips. Sixty seconds with information explained clearly, key words used, possibly in the role of a historical character and even in costume if they wanted to! This can be filmed on the ipads and/or performed in front of their peers, to develop oracy skills and building confidence as well as having lots of fun! I have recently been using Green Screen technology where pupils have been able to superimpose themselves onto a range of different historical background settings.
Students could write a review of the short film including what they found out, how it has helped their understanding, what they enjoyed etc.
As well as using the videos to start the lesson they could be used at the end of the lesson, to lead into what students will be learning about next lesson or a sixty second summary.
The videos could also be linked with a quick quiz. Questions based on the content of the video from using whiteboards to the free Plickers app. You could also instruct pupils to watch the video create a quick quiz that they can swap with their partners to complete.
Students could be given a random selection of historical key words connected to the topic or come up with their own. If any of their key words come up in the video they put a line though the word and the person who had the most key words from the video wins the bingo!
There are some video clips which provide a description, such as the description of Henry VIII. This is a great video to watch when studying interpretation. One suggested idea would be for students to listen carefully to the physical description of Henry VIII and based on what they have heard create an illustration to match!
As mentioned before the videos are great to promote to class discussions. They can also encourage debate. There are specific videos that open up the arguments for debate such as the video clip ‘Was the British Empire a good or bad thing? A silent debate is a great idea where pupils debate different viewpoints through writing and responding to each other, they can struggle to remain silent if they feel strongly about something but pupils getting passionate about Hisory is brilliant!
There are so many possibilities and options. A really useful bank of video clips and resources for every History teacher! Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you have been inspired by any of the ideas and suggestions then I would love to hear how you have you have used/adapted or remixed them in your classroom. If you have used the Squaducation short films in your classroom in a different way then again, please get in touch and share! You can get in touch via my contact page or send me a message on Twitter. To visit the Squaducation website you can click here.