This past August I wrote about a new lesson I created and was excited to try called #explainhistorybadly. It’s based on the Twitter hashtag #explainafilmplotbadly and you can read about that on my blog post here. With final exams next week I decided that this would be a great time to put this into action since there was more than enough content to cover in this review activity.
I created a PowerPoint presentation that first introduced #explainafimplotbadly as the hook. The students liked guessing the movies. After several film examples, I created some historical examples from the topics we covered and from other historical events. I struggle to use examples from assignment topics because I’ve found that it stifles student creativity because they now have difficulty coming up with their own ideas. I don’t want them reaching for the low-hanging fruit. That being said, I used examples that could apply to this assignment because this was something brand new and my student’s didn’t have the background knowledge on what I was expecting with regards to assignment parameters. Students were to create five #explainhistorybadly tweets (on paper) for homework and then the next day I had them partner up and they had to guess their partner’s tweets. They switched partners several times. At the end I shared some of the best tweets with the entire class.
Overall, I’d say the results were so-so. I’m basing this on the fact that the submissions didn’t have the wit or humor that really makes this lesson pop. The vast majority of students just summarized a historical event we studied in a sentence or two. However, the students that really “got it” knocked it out of the park. In order for this to really work (and by that I mean having a great combination of academic quality with high entertainment) students need to have a witty sense-of-humor. Many students loved the idea behind this because guessing the tweets I created was fun for them. However, when they had to create their own they found it much more difficult than they anticipated.
Here are some examples of awesome tweets from students. Answers below. (Keep in mind, the topics are from world history between the years 1300-1800.)
- Man nails it with list of complaints about his boss.
- Sailor gets lost, discovers popular new getaway spot.
- Boss loses his mind in disagreement with his co-workers.
- Man bullies neighbor for a warm bath.
- Machine causes severe environmental problems and deforestation.
- Country falls into debt for building a house.
- Person’s prized possession blocked by bars.
- Science fair ruined by old religious guy.
Those were some of the most impressive ones submitted. Considering this was done yesterday, I haven’t yet fully reflected on how to improve this yet. Maybe it’s my bias, but I like the foundation of the lesson. Now it’s time to work on the execution of it.
By the way, here are the answers:
- Martin Luther & posting of 95 theses.
- Christopher Columbus.
- Beheading of Charles I of England (could work for any beheaded leader, like Robespierre).
- Peter the Great defeats Sweden and builds St. Petersburg for Russian port that won’t freeze.
- Gutenberg’s printing press.
- Construction of Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV.
- Construction of Taj Mahal with Shah Jahan watching its construction from jail after being imprisoned by his own son.
- Galileo supports the heliocentric theory and is accused of heresy by the Church.
How’d you do?
Until next time…