HTASA - History Teachers' Assocation of SA

Who? A game of identification.

 

The games described below are used in my classroom at Scotch College Adelaide and have proven to be firm hits with the students for many years. Together they make a strong foundation for

  • searching for specific knowledge on the internet using guided searches
  • consolidating specific knowledge about people
  • making decisions based upon a logic tree to better enhance a search strategy

The first game is a version of  Celebrity Heads and I will not attempt to explain the basic rules to a game that is so familiar. What I am concerned with here is showing how the game can be adapted to meet the needs of the Australian Curriculum History.



Step 1:  Making a list of people


The class is first challenged to work together and, without recourse to other resources, list "100 historically significant figures". Not surprisingly this proves to be a taxing task.   It quickly becomes clear that we need to define "historically significant" as opposed to "famous". This is an interesting debate that is often resolved by asking them to insert the proposed name after "Alexander the Great and Hitler...."  so "Alexander the Great, Hitler and Einstein" works while "Alexander the Great, Hitler and Harry Styles" does not.

Not long after it becomes clear that the internet is the tool of choice to find lists.  Shortly after that it becomes clear that unless you have a valid search parameter that most students will end up with the same list derived from the first Google returns.

At this point the class is issued with instructions to locate 10 figures who are historically important. They must include at least

  • 4 women
  • 1 African figure
  • 1 Asian figure
  • 1 Indigenous figure
  • and no more than 3 from one era (which we defined as Ancient, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary)
  • at least 4 of the following roles:  artist, author, composer, explorer, inventor, politician, religious leader or scientist.

At first this proves to be daunting but it quickly becomes obvious that the very limitations are liberating as they provide the basis for effective searching.  Students no longer look for "famous people" but are now able to search for "famous Asian female politician".

Students are not able to use names proposed by other students. To ensure honesty (and work!) every student gives their name next to their suggestion on our shared online spreadsheet (we use Google Docs).  Students are encouraged to fill in a one word clue about their person.

 


Once we have an initial list the class checks that we have covered all of our categories. Any gaps are filled with quick research. The class then puts the list to vote. Anyone not known to 50% of the students is removed immediately.

You can view a typical list in a public Google Doc by clicking here.

 



Step 2:  Searching the list


A useful skill is to be able to search a database/spreadsheet quickly.  Having access to the full list of names with all the other fields at first looks overwhelming but soon becomes easily navigable. We pick names at random and then the class enters "celebrity head" mode.   They are taught to search methodically using the biggest discriminators first.

 

You can see an example of my class working through the process by clicking here.



Step 3: Looking at the people in a different way



The next step is in many ways the most fun.  Students, familiar with the names, are then asked to look at them in a different way.  They draw out cards which come from our "of all the people I have studied I nominate" categories.  These are quirky, humorous, taxing and engaging.  The point is to have the students think about the significant historical characters as people and not just as figureheads.  Any name that is used once is removed from the list and cannot be used again.  Each nomination must have an explanation which is historically valid.    Some examples of the nomination categories are :


Click here to download a pdf of the categories 

so that you can use them in your classroom.


Enjoy.

Malcolm Massie
Head of History
Scotch College Adelaide

 

 

Who? A game of identification.

 

The games described below are used in my classroom at Scotch College Adelaide and have proven to be firm hits with the students for many years. Together they make a strong foundation for

  • searching for specific knowledge on the internet using guided searches
  • consolidating specific knowledge about people
  • making decisions based upon a logic tree to better enhance a search strategy

The first game is a version of  Celebrity Heads and I will not attempt to explain the basic rules to a game that is so familiar. What I am concerned with here is showing how the game can be adapted to meet the needs of the Australian Curriculum History.



Step 1:  Making a list of people


The class is first challenged to work together and, without recourse to other resources, list "100 historically significant figures". Not surprisingly this proves to be a taxing task.   It quickly becomes clear that we need to define "historically significant" as opposed to "famous". This is an interesting debate that is often resolved by asking them to insert the proposed name after "Alexander the Great and Hitler...."  so "Alexander the Great, Hitler and Einstein" works while "Alexander the Great, Hitler and Harry Styles" does not.

Not long after it becomes clear that the internet is the tool of choice to find lists.  Shortly after that it becomes clear that unless you have a valid search parameter that most students will end up with the same list derived from the first Google returns.

At this point the class is issued with instructions to locate 10 figures who are historically important. They must include at least

  • 4 women
  • 1 African figure
  • 1 Asian figure
  • 1 Indigenous figure
  • and no more than 3 from one era (which we defined as Ancient, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary)
  • at least 4 of the following roles:  artist, author, composer, explorer, inventor, politician, religious leader or scientist.

At first this proves to be daunting but it quickly becomes obvious that the very limitations are liberating as they provide the basis for effective searching.  Students no longer look for "famous people" but are now able to search for "famous Asian female politician".

Students are not able to use names proposed by other students. To ensure honesty (and work!) every student gives their name next to their suggestion on our shared online spreadsheet (we use Google Docs).  Students are encouraged to fill in a one word clue about their person.

 


Once we have an initial list the class checks that we have covered all of our categories. Any gaps are filled with quick research. The class then puts the list to vote. Anyone not known to 50% of the students is removed immediately.

You can view a typical list in a public Google Doc by clicking here.

 



Step 2:  Searching the list


A useful skill is to be able to search a database/spreadsheet quickly.  Having access to the full list of names with all the other fields at first looks overwhelming but soon becomes easily navigable. We pick names at random and then the class enters "celebrity head" mode.   They are taught to search methodically using the biggest discriminators first.

 

You can see an example of my class working through the process by clicking here.



Step 3: Looking at the people in a different way



The next step is in many ways the most fun.  Students, familiar with the names, are then asked to look at them in a different way.  They draw out cards which come from our "of all the people I have studied I nominate" categories.  These are quirky, humorous, taxing and engaging.  The point is to have the students think about the significant historical characters as people and not just as figureheads.  Any name that is used once is removed from the list and cannot be used again.  Each nomination must have an explanation which is historically valid.    Some examples of the nomination categories are :


Click here to download a pdf of the categories 

so that you can use them in your classroom.


Enjoy.

Malcolm Massie
Head of History
Scotch College Adelaide