Hodder History Expert Blog

SHP Conference 2014
By Jim Belben
16 Jul
Twitter has grown in significance for History teachers over recent years. A show of hands at the #shp2014 Teachmeet showed the majority were using it as part of their professional development. There was a flood of tweets from the delegates and speakers throughout the conference which spread the message of (and the good ideas from) the #shp2014 conference almost instantly.

It goes without saying that you can’t sum up the nuances of a good teaching idea in a Tweet but you can try, and as one of those who joined in the tweeting as @HodderHistory I found it a really helpful discipline to be listening out for good ideas and helpful insights and then to be thinking of how I could sum them up in 140 characters.

Of course it’s reductionist but with a purpose!

If you are on Twitter yourself then you probably already follow the #shp2014 hashtag but if not the tweets are gathered on the SHP website here

A #hashtag community
This year it struck me more forcibly than ever before how a #hashtag can create a community. As I sat in a plenary or a workshop with my iPad taking a photo of an interesting slide or an unusual moment and sending out another #shp2014 message I felt more instantly connected both to the event and to the people around me but also to the dozens of people who follow the hashtag but who were not there in person.

At the end of a conference talk the call for ‘any questions’ is often a bit wooden and greeted with silence – not because there are no questions but there are so many that asking any one of them seems inadequate. But tweeting during a workshop or plenary can help capture the energy of the moment and the sense of debate and can open up so many more possibilities (and I think that we are well past the stage where anyone thinks it rude to be doing this while someone is speaking. Or am I wrong?)

Top four moments
So being a fan of Twitter and its potential for multiplying the benefits of a conference or event I devised a new discipline for myself: if I had to condense my Twitter stream to just  four important Tweets which would I choose?

Well that is even harder than summing up a good idea in 140 characters but let me try!

1) Dan Greef's hands

The workshop from @MilHums (Mildenhall Humanities) led by Richard Kerridge and Dan Greef was positively overflowing with brilliant ideas to get pupils motivated to improve their writing. I particularly loved his ‘big hands’ used to show the difference between a one-sided argument and balanced analysis.

Dan kept on saying (in passing) how he used his colleagues in other departments to help him and in this case the ever-supportive D&T department had knocked together some hands for him. And he could still work the interactive whiteboard while wearing them! 

Here they are (and why is he wearing a bloody apron? I will leave you to guess!) 


 2) Historiana's Soviet war art

On Sunday morning representatives from Euroclio guided us round the new Europe-wide resource site called Historiana and particularly the soon-to-be-launched resources for teaching the First World War with a broader European perspective.

But as is often the way (if you have an iPad in hand) you start exploring the site for yourself and I soon found myself in a different war altogether! (Now is that why lots of schools don’t allow BYOD? I was not doing what the teacher told me. But I was at least doing history!) And I was amazed by the wonderful resources Historiana have collected.

In particular I thought their collection of Soviet war art was stunning. Maybe you Soviet experts had seen all these before but I had not and I thought that together or individually they would be a fantastic way into what we all agree is one of the most neglected aspects of the Second World War in English schools – the long battle on the Eastern Front. 

So thanks to Euroclio – a stunning site that will be a gold mine of interesting sources for years to come.

3) Christine Counsell’s polished jewel

Christine Counsel told us that: 'we are mad to take this for granted in UK because not many countries have it.'  
Take what for granted? 

Well this…


ie our right to...no, our responsibility to teach about multiple interpretations of our past!

Christine offered a thoughtful look back at how we were first entrusted with the teaching of interpretations by the national curriculum and what now, 20 years on, she thinks should characterise our teaching about it.
She typically avoided easy answers but instead gave us tools to talk about it and think about it and principles to use to test our ideas. It reminded me, if I needed it, of the serious purpose behind all that we do. How important history teaching is! 


4) Sally Thorne’s blogs

At one of the plenaries I found myself sitting just a couple of seats from @MrsThorne and to my surprise and admiration she seemed to be, all at the same time:
a)      Listening intelligently
b)      Tweeting intelligently
c)       Blogging intelligently
Is that possible? Well you judge. She was recording her notes on each session and posting them as instant blogs – and seemed to be getting the detail as well as the jist.

So when it came to the wonderful #teachmeet on Saturday evening and I was dropping off the pace like a sprinter on a Tour de France hill climb and failing to really internalise the flood of good ideas @MrsThorne came to the rescue with her summary, which saved me taking notes at all!

You can find it here.
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