Last night I attended the Northern History forum at Leeds Trinity University, ran a workshop entitled ‘Playing Games in History’ and met some great teachers, new and experienced.
Ben Walsh gave the opening address, and reminded us of the benefit of asking ‘why am I teaching this?’ every now and then, as well as giving us some fantastic website tips. These included:
I was there to run a workshop, which I did, entitled ‘Playing with History’. My aim was not to offer any over-arching theory, but just to present (with new teachers particularly in mind) some techniques that I have been honing over the years to keep lessons moving with purposeful pace. You can find the materials for the talk on this page.
When I was little we would sometimes play this game on wet afternoons (there being no youtube). It is much easier with pictures than objects, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use either. I often use images as icons for particular concepts, events or historical actors, especially where there are several factors or issues that we’ll be exploring over a couple of weeks or half a term. Sometimes I’ll give the students these images, sometimes I’ll ask them to associate images themselves. If we’ve been studying a topic without using these images then this memory game is a good way of introducing them as a tool for revision. This also works really well as a starter, as there’s an element of time which encourages them to settle and to raise their game very early in the lesson.
Before the lesson I will find images that allow students to discuss causes, consequences, or other second order concepts, or those that enable us to talk about substantive events, people, trends or other historical content. I can then arrange them on a powerpoint slide with the instruction that students have say 10 or 15 seconds to memorise them.
In class I tell them to close all their books, and to have a pen ready at the side. They’re to look at the screen / board and memorise the pictures that appear. After the allotted time I change the slide (you can set powerpoint up to do this automatically too) and tell them they have a minute to write down as many of the items as they can remember.
Here’s one I made earlier about the causes of poverty in Elizabethan England. You’ll notice that there are several important causes I’ve missed off – a good way of extending this idea is to ask students ‘which causes are not represented?’. To push this further I can ask them to remember the images at the end of the lesson too – which works well as a plenary if the images, or the ideas that they represent are then explored in the lesson itself.