Sunday, October 19, 2014

Teaching Technique: The 1 Minute Throwdown

History teachers know that lessons on exciting events are easy.  It's teaching the philosophies behind those events, the intangibles, that is tough.  I needed a quick engaging plan to help the kids learn the material without watching them glaze over before my eyes.

This time I was teaching the 19th century ideologies that influenced the European Revolutions of 1830 and 1848: conservatism, liberalism, nationalism.  My plan was for the kids to come up with their best 1 minute presentation and go head-to-head with one another to find out who could best explain their ideology while entertaining their audience. Classmates would vote for the winners.

Day 1

  1. Define the word ideology and give students resources that describe the three 19th century ideologies.
  2. There are 3 ideologies in this instance, so I divided the class up into 6 groups: 2 groups per ideology.
  3. Groups read the resources and come up with an accurate, teacher-approved answer to the essential question: What were the major political ideologies of 19th century Europe and how did they influence social and political action?

Day 2

  1. Groups review their notes from Day 1 and start planning their 1 minute presentation for the throwdown.
  2. Once a plan is in place, groups show me their scripts, images, props, and sketches so I can ensure that everything is historically accurate.  
  3. The 1 minute presentation must be recorded, saved, and ready for the throwdown before students leave class.

Day 3

  1. Throwdown Day!
  2. Groups perform/play their 1 minute project.
  3. The rest of the class tries to arrive at a definition of the ideology.  This definition is approved or edited by the performing groups.
  4. The class votes for the best 1 minute projects!
1 minute projects that resulted varied from Common Craft style videos, to live skits, to appsmashed projects that blew my socks off.  Here were our winners from today:

Liberalism

Conservatism

video

video

Nationalism

Click here to watch an appsmashed video made with ChatterPix and Videolicious.

Assessment

My students demonstrate their learning by posting reflective and informative blog posts using Blogger.  Here is the assignment for posting on this lesson.

While this lesson might not be considered "fun" from a teenage perspective, it definitely had them laughing and trash-talking a bit. They had a stake in producing a high quality result because they knew they would show it to classmates and compete.  They also liked that they have a lot of choice over what the final product would be.  Over ten different apps were used by the groups, and some used no apps at all to put together their live skit performances.  This teaching method could be used to help kids learn about political parties, economic concepts, constitutional principles, and lots of other intangible but essential concepts that are part of history.  Give it a shot and have fun!