How to make history fun according to Kate

Hi all! Welcome to week 4 of EDC3100! Crazy hey, it’s going so quickly and our first assignment is due in a week! EEK. Better get moving.

Today I wanted to share with you all some ancient history resources. I was inspired to do this by a number of posts I saw while scrolling through the reader this morning. Check out Jackie’s post about a number of ICT resources she has discovered as well as Emma’s post about Minecraft and how it can be utilised in the classroom.

Now, I am well aware that Ancient history, or any kind of history can be VERY boring. The scaring thing is, how boring the history class is depends entirely on the teacher!!! On one of my practical experiences I observed a year 10 ancient history class in which content was taught straight from the textbook, (students read a chapter and then answered questions). This was supplemented by the occasional primary source document photocopy which students had to read and then respond to in essay form. The teacher as then confused as to why some many of the students were disinterested and would misbehave all through the lessons; they were bored.


^This is what the class looked like 90% of the time

This is so sad because history is such an awesome subject!! So much cool and random stuff has happened in the past, and by studying it we can create a better future for ourselves.

So that brings me to:

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1. Throw boring teaching methods out the window!

Textbooks are a great source of knowledge, and its ok it use it and encourage the students to refer to it. But when your lessons are just class reading and answering questions from the textbook, thats not going to end well. Students will switch off as soon as you say “turn to page 207 of the textbook”.

We also need to get away from the traditional ‘read and analyse’ that seems to be the default setting in history classes. NO MORE printed primary source documents!! There are far better ways to engage students in the content which brings me to:

2. Jump online and find some ICTs. 

There are millions of great resources online ranging from interactive timelines to interactive dig sites. Or you could use QR codes to create a historical quiz or timeline. Really the possibilities are endless. As we’ve been learning, ICTs help to capture the attention of the students and keep them engaged in the content. They also help the students to explore and make meaning for themselves. They are a fun way to get students to start exploring history.

3. Bring history to life

History is dead. That is the mindset of most students and probably a lot of people. But it’s not. There is still so much that we can learn from the past. History does not exist in the classroom, you cannot learn and engage with history sitting at a desk. It’s outside, it’s hands on and it’s fun.

I wrote an assessment task for year 11 history last semester. One of the curriculum requirements was that the students had to learn about effective archaeological skills. Instead of making the assessment an exam, I designed an innovative portfolio task in which one the tasks was to work with a partner at a dig site (located on the school grounds) and critique each other’s skills.

So! Those are my three tips for teaching history. I hope you found them helpful! Remember history is not boring and we as teachers are the only people who can help to stamp out that ugly sterotype and bring history to life!

Happy studying everyone!

Kate

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