History KS3 / GCSE: ClueTubers – Explore an urban environment

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 in York where they explore the environment looking for clues around the theme of trade.

The pair explore the streets of York looking for clues that tell them more about the history of trade at the site.

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 your students to predict and discuss what clues Adam and Vee might uncover about economic activity in the city of York then draw up a checklist and later see how they fared. Using a timeline prepared in advance while watching they could log patterns of change tracking trends, turning points and identifying factors which encouraged or inhibited change. Examining this timeline students could also think about the types of sources that could help them find out more. They could pose ‘bigger’ enquiry questions seeking explanations of change or continuity.

This film will highlight key features of York as a commercial and trading centre 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 film focuses on physical features it should 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 communication, transport, government, religion, economy and society, law and order 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 enquiry 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?’ They could discuss the various merits and utility of range of different types of sources. 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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