The increasingly accessible nature of online video and textual sources means that it is now easier than ever to watch short clips from films and video documentaries to break up a lesson with engaging stimulus material. However, too often these clips and extracts do little more than merely reinforce what’s just been covered in class or provide extra narrative detail.

To promote deeper engagement with such sources, provide students with just the first half of the source, then challenge them to anticipate how the story ends. For example, in this extract relating to the civil rights movement, pause the video halfway through and ask your students:

  • Will he offer to help the white woman, or not? Why?
  • What will happen next that will make this what he has already described as a ‘life changing event’?

Then, after listening to their answers, play them the remainder of the video. Were they right? What surprised them? What have we learned from this?

Taking it further

The same technique can be adopted for written sources, and even for pictures – for more on this, see my post on the ‘image wipe‘ approach.


Both the idea for this blogpost, and the example given here, comes from an excellent training session I attended which was delivered by Facing History and Ourselves.