History Skills

IB History: ActiveHistory

An ActiveHistory subscription provides everything you need to construct and deliver a two-year IBDP History course from start to finish using the ActiveHistory IB History Hub.

These consist not just of lesson plans, worksheets and teacher notes, but also multimedia lectures and interactive games and historical simulations ideal for remote learning and self-study.

Use the ActiveHistory curriculum maps and the ActiveHistory syllabus topics to design your own course effectively.

We also have you covered for the Internal Assessment, Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge in History, not to mention Essay and Sourcework Skills, IBDP History Model Essays and IBDP History Sample Sourcework Exercises / Model answers!




The following materials are designed to provide teachers and students with general advice about essay writing and sourcework approaches.

A. Sourcework

Rights and Protest: Sample Sourcework Assignments and Model Answers

A wide range of sample paper 1 exercises, complete with model answers to be discussed with students afterwards.

Student-friendly Sourcework Rubric

This rubric provides a student-friendly mark scheme and tips for structuring each of the answers for the IB Sourcework Paper. For example:

B. Essay Writing

Student bookmark: Vocabulary for essay writing

I have designed the following bookmark in order to help students use a richer range of vocabulary to express their ideas more clearly in essays:
Sets of these bookmarks can be printed off, laminated, cut out, and then shared with students to keep in their planners or textbooks.

Student-Friendly Essay Rubric / Teacher Mark scheme

A student-friendly essay rubric breaking down the elements of good essay writing into separate categories of analysis. The approach adopted here is a subject of a blogpost at Tarr's Toolbox.

Visual essay-writing: cartoons, sticky-notes and plenty of collaboration! [blogpost]

A detailed blogpost outlining one of my favourite essay-writing strategies to use with students.


Using “EyeSay!” to give visual feedback on student essays [blogpost]

EyeSay!” is a new tool I have coded at to help students and teachers get a useful visualisation of essay style and structure.

Use the ‘Keyword Checker’ to ensure student essays cover the essentials [blogpost]

Factual knowledge is the bedrock of good history writing. Without it, meaningful opinions cannot be formed or substantiated. With this in mind, I developed the Keyword Checker at ClassTools. Simply input the essential terms, names, dates and events in one box, and paste the essay into the other. The application will then check the essay and provide a quick rundown of exactly which terms have been included, and which have been left out.

Using Hexagon Learning for categorisation, linkage and prioritisation [blogpost]

The ability to select, prioritise, categorise and link evidence is a valuable skill that students learn in History. It is also highly transferable to other subjects. Using hexagons is a particularly simple and effective way of developing these skills.

10 creative approaches for developing essay-writing skills [blogpost]

The knack of writing a good essay in a subject like history is a skill which is a challenge to acquire for many students, but immensely rewarding and useful. The ability to carry a reader along with a well-crafted argument is no easy feat, since it involves carefully synthesising the creative arts of the storyteller with the scientific rigour of the evidence-driven empiricist.

There are MANY MORE blogposts here which I have written on the subject of essay-writing approaches - too many in fact to list here!

@russeltarr / @activehistory


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ActiveHistory provides vast amounts of worksheets, lesson plans, interactive simulations, self-marking quizzes, model essays and teacher support materials for the high school world history classroom.
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