History KS3 / GCSE: ClueTubers – Explore a military site

YouTubers Vee (Miss Varz) and Adam (thenewadamb99) offer an overview of how to approach the exploration and interrogation of an historic site.

We see Adam and Vee exploring Birdoswald Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall where they investigate the environment to see what clues they can find that tell them more about the history of the site.

They pose questions; Where is it located? Why was it built? Who built it, paid for it and lived there? When was it built? What purpose did it serve over time? How was it designed?

Teacher Notes

These films enhance the teaching of the new historic environment element of GCSE History. They can be used as part of a thematic or depth study. There is also application for a key stage 3 local study.

The films are designed as initial stimulus material to inspire curiosity and help students to refine and develop perceptive questions about their studies. The film format whereby clues are sought and questions posed should help illuminate how people lived at the time, their beliefs and how they were governed. They can act as a forerunner to study and familiarise students with methods of historical enquiry, helping them to understand how evidence is used to make judgements and reach conclusions about the past.

Different boards have different requirements in terms of the Historic Environment. In all cases, emphasising second order concepts is important: tracking changes, continuity cause and consequence, as well as the importance of the site as a source in its own right.

The approach taken encourages students to think for themselves and to make links, connections and pose questions.

The aim is to encourage essential study skills such as independence, self-direction and regulation as well as inspiring students to get out and about and apply these methods of historical enquiry.

Before Watching

You could ask students to predict and discuss what clues Adam and Vee might uncover about the Romans in Britain then draw up a checklist and later see how they fared after ‘active watching’. Using this list, students could think about ‘bigger’ enquiry questions based around second order concepts of change, continuity, cause and consequence. e.g Explain why the Romans were able to continue expanding their empire? This approach can be applied to any location.

This clip will highlight key features of Birdoswald Roman Fort and generate wondering by posing questions to help students to make connections to the wider historical context. Key vocabulary and spellings will be reinforced appearing on screen. These could act as hook for extended written responses. Adam and Vee will model the investigative approach that will be required when it comes to the student’s own site study.

Whilst the clip focuses on physical features the film could be used alongside other historical sources to allow students to practise their skills and assess the relative value of different types of sources. How typical and representative are the features seen, is another angle that could be explored in this way.

Students could draw inferences whilst watching. Key organising themes such as government, religion, economy and society, law and order and foreign affairs could be advertised in advance and students jot points down under these headings to make links to the site in context.

After watching

Students could be challenged to answer ‘What surprised you?’ ‘What questions do you now have?’ ‘What further study would you under take to close these knowledge gaps?’ ‘Which other sources could be used to supplement the film?’ Students could create a mind map of the investigative approach to site study, how might this be applied to the site your students will be investigating?

Next Steps

Encourage the transference of this enquiry based approach to the site under study. The films should prepare students to look out for key details in order to make connections and reach reasoned judgements.

Curriculum Notes

This clip is suitable for teaching at Key Stage 3/4 and GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

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