Category Archives: Historical Programming

History Book vs Video Lecture

I operate flipped classroom where students watch video lectures with Zaption questions embedded in them for homework, then we read, practice writing and note-taking drills and complete projects in class. After three years of this work I developed two hypotheses: 1) Students with higher reading scores prefer reading the book to viewing the video lectures; and 2) Students with lower reading scores prefer viewing the video lectures to reading the book.

This week, I asked two samples of students to describe which learning format they preferred. The results soundly debunked my assumptions. While both groups of students preferred the video lectures to the textbook, 36% of students with lower reading levels preferred taking notes from the book rather than viewing video lectures.

Book v VL

Students who favored the video lecture to the book made comments like:

  • I think I am learning more from the videos because they give off more information, they clarify what the topic is about, and I can rewind the video in case I didn’t get that last piece of information.
  • Personally, the video lectures help a lot more than taking notes on the book. I can spend more time on the video, the book is more flat. In the video, main points are emphasized. It’s slightly harder to pick out key points from the book. My brain works better when it comes to listening because when it comes to reading, my eyes tend to skim and I can miss key information.
  • I like the video lecture better because it tells us what to write. You can take your time and you can rewind the video. In the book, it takes a long time looking for what information you are going to write in your notes. When I open the book it’s just like no and it’s not interesting. The book doesn’t capture my attention.

Students who preferred the book to the video lectures made comments like:

  • I think the book helps me better because you can go back and easily find something you missed, you can easily flip through pages to find something, and it is less distracting.
  • Taking notes from the book helps you go at your own pace. You can read as fast or as slow as you want. The book is easier to go back to a sentence or paragraph than the video. The book makes it more simple because you can study and annotate in a way that you will understand.
  • I work better with books, they have less complications. I am a hands-on learner, books get to the point. Video-lectures can have complications. WiFi can go down, you run out of data, problems can happen. Books are always there to be picked up and read.

These results seem to validate the flipped classroom approach. When students view video lectures which preview vocabulary terms, names and events first, they are building background knowledge. Then, when students encounter these terms, names, and events in their reading, they have familiarity with them and it is easier for the new knowledge to “stick.” Regardless of which learning method students prefer when these two methods are paired, the video acts as an anticipation guide priming the pump in a student’s memory and reinforcing the stickiness of the information in the reading. My big takeaway? Remember to listen to your students. It turns out they also are your customers.

History on TV in October

This month’s TV Plus column (p. 26) from The Social Studies Professional features the following films.

Iwo Jima: From Combat to Comrades Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 8:00–9:00pm PST KQED PBS Follow survivors of perhaps the fiercest battle of World War II as they return to Iwo Jima for a Reunion of Honor on the only battlefield where former enemies come together in shared remembrance.

Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 9:00–10:00 pm PST KOCE PBS/ Steeplechase Films Take an unflinching look at the reality of warfare and disability in this history of disabled veterans. Witness moving interviews with “some of the country’s most prominent disabled veterans.”

American Comandante (American Experience) Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 9:00–10:00pm PST PBS/WGBH Meet William Morgan, the larger-than-life American who rose to power in Cuba during the revolution. His life had it all — adventure and romance, mobsters and spies, and a cast of characters including J. Edgar Hoover, Che Guevara, and Fidel Castro.

Up Heartbreak Hill (POV) November 2015 PBS/ American Documentary Thomas and Tamara are track stars at their rural New Mexico high school. Like many teenagers, they are torn between the lure of brighter futures elsewhere and the ties that bind them to home. For these teens, however, home is an impoverished town on the Navajo reservation, and leaving means separating from family, tradition and the land that has been theirs for generations. Take a moving look at a new generation of Americans struggling to be both Native and modern.

History on TV

Dear Parents: Did you know that 55% of your child’s academic vocabulary comes from their Social Studies classes?

Marzano 55%

It is important that students read, view, and discuss historical content in school and at home. The National Council of Social Studies puts together a monthly TV Plus column. This post is reblogged from The Social Studies Professional (p. 28) September 2015. Please consider viewing some of these programs with your child and discussing them around the dinner table.

Civil War

The Civil War (Documentary’s 25th Anniversary) Monday-Friday, September 7–11, 2015. Explore America’s most destructive and defining conflict, brought to life in the epic award-winning documentary produced and directed by Ken Burns. This newly restored high-definition version marks the 25th anniversary of the initial 1990 premiere.


Life on the Line: Coming of Age Between Two Nations September 8 and 9, 2015. PBS/Fine Line Films Follow a year in the life of 11-year-old Kimberly Torrez, who crosses the border in Nogales, Mexico, each day to attend school across the line in Arizona. Her father needs a liver transplant; her mother awaits a visa to allow her to live in the United States.

One Two Fronts

On Two Fronts—Latinos & Vietnam Tuesday, September 22, 2015. PBS/Souvenir Pictures Examine the Latino experience during a war that placed its heaviest burden on the working class. Framing the documentary are memoirs of two siblings who stood on opposite sides of the Vietnam War, one as a prisoner of war, and the other a protestor at home.


E.O. Wilson—Of Ants and Men Wednesday, September 30, 2015. PBS/Shining Red Productions Review the remarkable life and ground-breaking ideas of biologist E.O. Wilson, founder of the discipline of sociobiology, world authority on insects, and Pulitzer-prize winning writer on the subject of human nature.