Please fill in the following form to contact the author, Russel Tarr (@russeltarr)
ActiveHistory provides entertaining, educational award-winning interactive simulations, decision-making games, self-marking quizzes, high-quality worksheets and detailed lesson plans for teachers and students.
View the top 50 activities here.
You can also request a free trial.
This project was developed as a joint study unit between the Head of History (@russeltarr) and the Head of Geography (@MattPodbury) at the International School of Toulouse.
Its purpose is to provide an intensive and exciting induction programme to Year 7 students and to highlight links between Geography and History from the outset.
The first part of the History Mystery consists of a roleplay element led by the teacher, usually involving some props. This is deliberately designed to pique the curiosity of the students. The role card for the iceman mystery looks like this:
Based on this initial introductory roleplay, the class is then invited to come up with a series of preliminary questions for investigation (e.g. "Who is this?", "Why did they...?", "When did...?", "What is...?", "Where are we?"). In the case of the iceman mystery, the questions that students came up with as a starting point included the following:
The next part of the investigation involves showing the students a series of images on the whiteboard. Each image helps the students to formulate fresh questions, amend existing ones or even form some provisional answers.
The images we use in the iceman mystery can be downloaded as a .zip file. They are shown below too, along with the sorts of questions which students came up with:
On scrap paper, students work individually to identify what they think are the five “Big Questions” that require further investigation.
NOTE: some of these questions may be taken directly from the list; it is more likely though that students will form broader questions which aim to encompass several “mini-questions” from the list.
The teacher then leads a classroom discussion to gather a list of ‘big questions’ and to narrow these down to what we consider to be the most popular five questions overall.
The students then write these five questions down in their sheets. They should also write a provisional answer against each one to reflect what they think is currently the most likely answer.
During this times the teacher can be cutting up the evidence slips ready for the next part of the investigation (see below).
This question formulation / resolution process then continues with a series of information slips shared amongst the class. One slip is handed out to each student and they use this to come up with a fresh question or (even better) to provide a possible answer to one of the "five big questions".
There are lots of these slips, so students who work more quickly than others can be given a second or even a third slip. Once all the slips have been handed out and analysed in this way, the students are put into groups to compare their findings.
I then 'jigsaw' the groups after this feedback phase: in other words, I create a new set of groups, with each new group containing one member from each of the old groups. The feedback phase is then repeated. In this way, every single slip has the opportunity to be discussed. This is usually a very lively phase and contains quite a few 'Eureka!' moments.
Finally, each student produces a written report which is graded against a standardised markscheme.
Specific credit is given to students who demonstrate evidence of independent research: to this end, the teacher could construct a QR Treasure Hunt to accompany the exercise which students could complete at breaktimes. Here is an case study of a QR Treasure Hunt for the Franklin Expedition Mystery.
At the International School of Toulouse, we were lucky enough to have a Google Hangout Video Conference with Alan @geoblogs Parkinson, author of a book on the Iceman. This allowed the students to ask questions directly of an expert witness and added another great dimension to the experience!
Moreover, dedicated Geography lessons in the same week gave a fresh perspective on the entire mystery. Matt @MattPodbury Podbury has written extensively about this dimension of the Mystery on this blogpost.
Events (100 years ago today): 1917 - In a game against the Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore retires 26 batters in a row after replacing Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for punching the umpire.
Events (50 years ago today): 1967 - Cold War: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin in Glassboro, New Jersey for the three-day Glassboro Summit Conference.
Commemorations:United Nations Public Service DayInternational Widow's DayLuxembourg National Day
RSS Feed | Full week | Get Widget
Post-War American Presidents to 1980: Detailed summary sheet for revision
Classroom debate: Which President achieved the most for the USA and for Latin America?
Comprehensive Summary Sheet for Revision: The Civil Rights Movement to 1965
Revision Summary Sheet: anti-apartheid resistance groups
Using drinking straws to study competition, co-operation and the arms race
Design Tubular Timeline Towers for chronological understanding
Develop persuasive vocabulary with a biased words knockout challenge
History in your pocket: Coins as sources
Student bookmark: Key vocabulary for essay writing
Use EyeSay! to give visual feedback on student essays
Medieval Realms: Revision quiz
Nazi Germany: Play your dates right! quiz
World War One: Interactive revision quiz
The Treaty of Sevres : The Middle East
Modern World History 1870-1939: Play Your Dates Right! interactive quiz