TOK in History – stimulus questions grid

The following grid outlines the main Ways of Knowing identified in the TOK history syllabus, along with the specified areas for consideration with regard to History in particular. These are laid out in a grid with a question provided which covers all possible crossover discussion points. Useful for classroom stimulus and ideas for how to…

ActiveHistory Books available for purchase

I have now written four books, and so I thought it would be a good idea to create a dedicated page where you can learn about all of them in one place. Click here   (27 views) Share this:

NEW BOOK – “25 Essays in Modern History”

I have just published a new book! Essays in Modern History provides the perfect handbook for teachers and students seeking answers to some of the most interesting questions investigated at the 16-18 age range. The 25 essays covers such topics as the causes and consequences of World War One, the Spanish Civil War and the…

Calendar of Historical Anniversaries: 2020-2021

*NEW* Free download – Calendar of Historical Anniversaries: 2020-2021 I’ve just finished work on my new calendar for the coming academic year. It contains some of the most important forthcoming historical anniversaries and memorial days to help you with lesson planning and assemblies. You can download your copy here by following this link. (47 views)…

Medieval Meme / Storyboard Generator

I’ve just launched a new resource over at www.classtools.net which allows students to generate their own Memes / Storyboards based on medieval manuscript images. https://www.classtools.net/meme/ (62 views) Share this:

Online Simulation: Are you the ‘fifth Beatle’?

Online Simulation: Are you the ‘fifth Beatle’? In this simulation, you will be presented with a series of situations that faced The Beatles during the 1960s, and regular video clips of The Beatles being interviewed and singing their songs. At the end of the simulation you will be told how many of these decisions matched…

Why did Beatlemania sweep the USA in the 1960s?

Why did Beatlemania sweep the USA in the 1960s? Through an analysis of the music, lyrics, fashion and politics of the 1960s, students learn about the cultural impact of the Beatles in the 1960s. They match images of the Beatles to the correct dates through the help of musical clips; examine their album art (and…

Who was the greatest of the other Rock ‘n’ Rollers?

Who was the greatest of the other Rock ‘n’ Rollers? In this activity you will take on the role of a Rock ‘n’ Roll manager. A major record label is willing to offer a lucrative contract to TWO acts. Your job is to make sure that your client gets one of these contracts! Part of…

How and why did adults and teenagers disagree about Elvis Presley?

How and why did adults and teenagers disagree about Elvis Presley? By the mid-1950s, there were lots of interesting developments going on in youth culture: a mass white audience with money to burn, young black musicians with amazing energy and talent, and a thriving movie industry catering for a teenage market. What was missing, though,…

What sorts of movies were popular with teenagers in the 1950s?

What sorts of movies were popular with teenagers in the 1950s? | Introductory Video – B-Movies (5 movies) | Plenary Video – JD Movies (8 minutes) The first signs of a distinctive “teenage” identity emerged not with music, but in film. Young people in the 1950s America grew up at a time of economic prosperity….

Why did “teenage” identity start to emerge in the 1950s?

In this activity, students are introduced to the creation of the modern teenager after World War Two, and listen to a wide variety of songs in different styles (blues, gospel, country, crooners) to compare and contrast them in terms of style and lyrical content. Part of the new unit on Teen Culture since WW2. (56…

History Podcast App from ActiveHistory

History Podcast App from ActiveHistory I’m developing a new app for students and teachers of IB History. It’s a directory of 700+ podcasts (so far) organised by topic, which will be updated at least once per week. You can ‘favourite’ your best podcasts, and even add comments within the app. I’ll be doing some fine-tuning…

“Statues and History” – Standalone lesson materials

Standalone lesson materials – “Statues and History” I finished putting together a self-contained study for my Year 9 students based on the recent debates about the future of historical statues – you can download the materials (and find links to additional videos/podcasts) here. Happy to hear any suggestions for further improvements. (162 views) Share this:

Multimedia Presentation: Gorbachev’s Rule

A presentation to provide feedback on the main activity on this page. Each slide outlines what Gorbachev actually did, and is followed by a video clip from which students can take additional notes. (57 views) Share this:

50+ ActiveHistory Lectures – all on one page

I’ve finally got round to putting all of the online multimedia presentations I’ve produced (and which are particularly popular) on this dedicated page for ease of reference. They cover topics in the entire 11-18 age range, although most are designed for IB History. (72 views) Share this:

Using student questionnaires to improve your teaching / planning

Each year I set up a Google Form and set a homework task for all my students to answer variations on the following questions. I find it a really invaluable way of developing my teaching and my schemes of work. Here are the questions I use in case you’re interested in trying something similar (or…

Video Documentary Project – The American Civil War

A new worksheet and activity – students watch some clips from professional historians, and the work of previous years’ students, to reflect on what makes a great documentary. They are then guided through the process of writing a narrative, choosing appropriate images and a soundtrack, prior to producing a short video documentary of their own….

Trading scenarios along the Silk Road: Teacher Answers

Trading scenarios along the Silk Road: can you make a profit? “The Silk Road developed into an amazingly complex trading network through the work of individual traders eager not just to obtain the things they needed and wanted, but to sell these on at a higher price to make a profit. In this activity will…

JFK: Introduction and Overview

JFK: Introduction and Overview Students are provided with a teacher-led lecture based around the following image and make notes in this worksheet. If you wish to set this as a homework task instead of lecture, you can use this interactive version of the image at Classtoolsand this accompanying video clip for additional notes.   (30…

The English Civil War: PowerPoint Starter / Accompanying Video

The English Civil War: PowerPoint Starter / Accompanying Video A series of images and short textual points designed to generate student interest. What was the Civil War? Why is it important to study? To accompany this, I have produced a short video of my own which I originally created as a distance-learning resource during COVID-19…

Medieval Cathedral Building – worksheet to complete online

Medieval Cathedral Building [making use of this slideshow]. This activity gets students to make deductions from original images to determine how medieval cathedrals were built. They watch a short video to decide what the most horrible job for cathedral builders was (lime burner? stonemason? treadmill operator?) They then investigate the difference between Romanesque and Gothic…

Primary sources about Churchill – worksheet

Primary sources about Churchill – Silent Discussion Prior to the lesson, your teacher will print off sets of sources and place them on different tables. The class will be divided into pairs, and each pair will be directed to a different table with a different set of sources. “Read the sources in silence, then still…

“Timeline of my Birthday” – worksheet

“Timeline of my Birthday” – worksheet Replace [DATE GOES HERE] with the month / day of your birthday (e.g. “November 30th”). Go to https://www.activehistory.co.uk/birthdayTimeline and input your birthday. It will provide a list of events, births and deaths that took place across a wide range of time on the day you were born. Select AT…

Suez Crisis: Standalone Workpack

The Suez Crisis of 1956 Note: If time is particularly tight, or this topic only needs to be taught briefly, then I have now produced a standalone workpack on this topic, which comes complete with links to multimedia clips. Part of the Suez Crisis Study Unit.   (33 views) Share this:

The Abyssinian Crisis

The Abyssinian Crisis Students are presented with a detailed breakdown of the crisis and watch several video clips to help them form judgements. A cartoon analysis exercise then follows. Part of the Interwar Europe: The 1930s study unit.   (45 views) Share this:

Design a Virtual Museum

Design a Virtual Museum During the COVID-19 lockdown period I got my students to collaborate on a “Virtual Museum” containing items from around their homes. It worked well and is something which I’ll now do regularly as a standalone project – you may be interested in trying a similar thing out with your own classes….

Venn Diagram Generator

I have launched a new HTML5 Venn Diagram Generator at www.classtools.net. (32 views) Share this:

Image Hotspot Generator

Here’s a new Image Hotspot Generator at www.classtools.net which I’ve created to allow you to quickly annotate images and embed them in your website or blog. (31 views) Share this:

Image Reveal Tool

A new classroom resource I’ve launched over at www.classtools.net. (103 views) Share this:

Fling the Teacher Quiz Generator

Create your own “Fling the Teacher” quizzes using this new generator I’ve coded over at www.classtools.net. (23 views) Share this:

The Events of World War Two: New Study Unit

These lessons focus on providing students with a clear understanding of the main ideologies, personalities and events leading up to the war rather than the causes themselves (The Causes of World War Two is a topic better suited as an examination topic for older students, and resources can be found here: 1920s | 1930s.) (131…

The Battle of the Somme: Haig – hero or butcher?

The Battle of the Somme Students conduct a debate on the issues of whether Haig was a good General, whether the battle plan was crazy, and whether it achieved its objectives. They do this by: (a) Completing this NEWLY EDITABLE worksheet as the teacher goes through The Battle of the Somme PowerPoint; (b) Completing this…

How did the Crash lead to a Depression? What were the political consequences?

How did the Crash lead to a Depression? What were the political consequences? Students sometimes find it difficult to understand how a stock market ‘crash’ in one country can lead to a widespread ‘Depression’ affecting the entire economies of many countries. This worksheet helps them bridge the gap. Updated to include a task providing questions…

Factual Test based on the introductory civil rights lecture

Factual Test based on the introductory civil rights lecture 15 questions testing student understanding from the lecture – The Big Picture: A multimedia presentation of race in American history since the Declaration of Independence Part of the Civil Rights unit at ActiveHistory.   (86 views) Share this:

How similar was the 2008 Financial Crisis to the Wall St. Crash?

How similar was the 2008 Financial Crisis to the Wall St. Crash? One of the most important purposes of studying history is to understand the modern world. In this exercise students will consider how the Wall St. Crash helps us understand the modern financial system, by considering three particular films in the process: Part of…

Decision-Making Exercise: Was Churchill a Great Leader? – Part 2 (1943-45)

Decision-Making Exercise: Was Churchill a Great Leader? – Part 2 (1943-45) | Student Worksheet A major decision-making simulation designed to teach students about the major events of World War Two in an engaging but rigorous manner. “In 1939, Adolf Hitler invaded Poland after signing a non-aggression pact with Stalin’s USSR. Britain and France declared war…

Decision-Making Exercise: Was Churchill a Great Leader? – Part 1 (1940-42)

Decision-Making Exercise: Was Churchill a Great Leader? – Part 1 (1940-42) | Student Worksheet A major decision-making simulation designed to teach students about the major events of World War Two in an engaging but rigorous manner. “In 1939, Adolf Hitler invaded Poland after signing a non-aggression pact with Stalin’s USSR. Britain and France declared war…

Video Documentary Worksheet: “The Children who Fought Hitler”

Video Documentary Worksheet: “The Children who Fought Hitler” (could be used as an alternative video for students who feel uncomfortable watching the ‘Holocaust’ documentary) This is a documentary telling the forgotten story of a heroic battle fought by the children of the British Memorial School to help liberate Europe from the Nazis. The school served…

Video Documentary Worksheet: “The World at War: Genocide”

Video Documentary Worksheet: “The World at War: Genocide” This worksheet is designed to help students get the most out of a documentary episode which is widely regarded as one of the best ever produced about the Holocaust – Hitler’s attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. The Holocaust is a subject which is compulsory to study…

Multimedia Presentation: Who were the Nazis? | Student Worksheet

Multimedia Presentation: Who were the Nazis? | Student Worksheet Students consider some of the key beliefs of the Nazis by debating a series of controversial issues (e.g. “Immigrants should be encouraged to leave our country when there are lots of our own people who are unemployed”, “It is quite right to place suspected terrorists into…

Left-wing and Right Wing: Which are you? [online simulation]

Left-wing and Right Wing: Which are you? [online simulation] Students then complete this computer questionnaire, which will provide them with some initial suggestions about whether they are Left- or Right-Wing. This can be completed in class, or set as a homework activity. Students are then asked to complete a Triangle Nine Template by completing the…

Overview of Ideologies: [a] Communism, Fascism and Nazism

Overview of Ideologies: [a] Communism, Fascism and Nazism Students start the unit by being introduced to the main ideological divisions of the interwar period and the key personalities behind them, including Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. Part of the new World War Two study unit at ActiveHistory. (94 views) Share this:

Student Record Grid – 1920s Border Disputes

Student Record Grid In this classroom roleplay exercise, students are divided into teams of four (idealists and pragmatists) and 11 students are also given a particular country to represent. We then go through each of the major border disputes of the 1920s hearing the arguments on both sides, reaching a decided course of action, then…

ActiveHistory Online Presentation – League in the 1920s

ActiveHistory Online Presentation In this classroom roleplay exercise, students are divided into teams of four (idealists and pragmatists) and 11 students are also given a particular country to represent. We then go through each of the major border disputes of the 1920s hearing the arguments on both sides, reaching a decided course of action, then…

Border Disputes in the 1920s: A Classroom Roleplay Exercise

Border Disputes in the 1920s: A Classroom Roleplay Exercise  In this classroom roleplay exercise, students are divided into teams of four (idealists and pragmatists) and 11 students are also given a particular country to represent. We then go through each of the major border disputes of the 1920s hearing the arguments on both sides, reaching…

How successfully did Elizabeth deal with the problems of her reign?

How successfully did Elizabeth deal with the problems of her reign? In this exercise, students will reach a final judgement about Elizabeth I by writing an essay. In this way, they will: Develop their ability to see the ‘big picture’ and to connect factors together Consider how Elizabeth’s rule has affected such things as: The…

Design a movie proposal: The Sophiatown Removals

Design a movie proposal: The Sophiatown Removals Fresh from his triumph with the World War One inspired “1917”, award-winning director Sam Mendes is keen to keep his winning streak alive by producing a film based in the black neighbourhood of Sophiatown in the years leading up to and including its destruction in the 1950s. Your…

Google Earth Interactive Tour: three key Silk Road explorers

Google Earth Interactive Tour: three key explorers Using an interactive Google Earth Tour, students develop their understanding of the three key explorers by following their footsteps and learning about their adventures and use what they learn to complete this worksheet. Part of the new “Silk Roads”  unit at ActiveHistory. (103 views) Share this:

Three key Silk Road explorers: European, African and Asian

Three key explorers: European, African and Asian “During a period of only 150 years, the travels of three remarkable explorers – one European, one African, and one Asian – expanded our understanding of vast parts of the world. Start by reading the three biographies and watching the video clips that go along with each for…

Crossword test – Silk Roads

Crossword test This crossword quiz, complete with teacher answer sheet, tests the vocabulary developed in the previous introductory exercise. Part of the new “Silk Roads”  unit at ActiveHistory. (51 views) Share this:

Introduction to the Silk Roads

Introduction to the Silk Roads “Watch the TEDEd video (below) as a class. Then, go through the written account (overleaf) and see how many of the missing words you are able to fill in. Next, highlight any words in the account that you do not know. Afterwards, discuss these words together and produce a list…

The Silk Roads: Online Adventure Game

A brand new simulation game, complete with a detailed worksheet and extension tasks, designed as part of my ongoing project to bring more non-European history into my classroom. Students can choose to play as a male or female character, and are placed in a random location somewhere on the Silk Roads to begin their quest,…

New Generator: Online Image Annotation Tool!

I’ve just finished coding a new online image annotation tool over at www.classtools.net which allows you to quickly label images (e.g. political cartoons, works of art, historical photographs) with ‘hotspots’ and then save your work to the server / embed it into your own blog or website. (75 views) Share this:

Consequences of the Korean War: HTML5 Hexagons

How was a truce negotiated? What were the consequences for Korea and for the wider world? |Interactive HTML Hexagons Students consider a list of detailed points are are then challenged to organise these into meaningful categories to answer the key questions. There are also some HTML5 Hexagons available for this exercise generated at www.classtools.net. Part…

Factual Test: Changes in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

25-question factual test This test (complete with teacher answer sheet) can be used to confirm that students have taken detailed and effective notes on the topic. Part of the scheme of work: In what ways, for what reasons, and with what results, did the Civil Rights movement become more radical after 1964? (59 views) Share this:

Multimedia lecture [3]: Changes in Location: From Rural South to Urban North

Multimedia lecture [3]: Changes in Location: From Rural South to Urban North The change in methods (towards militant self-defence) and objectives (black nationalism, not integration) overlapped with a move away from the rural south (and a focus on tackling Jim Crow laws) and towards the urban north (and a focus on tackling socio-economic exploitation) Part…

Caesar Cypher Generator

As part of the Escape Room resources, I’ve designed a simple Caesar Cypher Generator. (63 views) Share this:

ActiveHistory is now FLASH FREE!

After updating the Battle of Hastings Simulation, and following on from the update to Fling the Teacher, I think(!) that there are now no Flash features left on the website. This is in response to the fact that as from next year no major browsers will continue to support Flash for security reasons. If you…

New Blogpost: True, False, or Anachronism?

Overview Helping students understand the concept of anachronism – the misplacing of a concept, object or individual in a time period where it could not have existed – is an important step to getting them to understand the concept of chronology, to empathise with people in the past and to understand a historical period. Arthur…

History: Factual Test for the “Undercover in Imperial Rome” simulation

FACTUAL TEST In this task, students are given 25 short-answer questions to test the knowledge they acquired by completing the main worksheet which accompanies the game about Imperial Rome. The link to the associated computer simulation and loads more worksheets and activities relating to Imperial Rome can be found on this page of ActiveHistory.  …

Voyages of Discovery Simulation: Updated and Improved

I have updated my new “Voyages of Discovery” simulation in response to user feedback to include more locations, additional varied tasks, and fresh information about West African Empires in the Middle Ages / Early Modern period to complement the current focus on Asian and European History. It’s now a pretty comprehensive simulation which I hope…

“Unseen history” – a new blogpost

Overview Building up a sense of anticipation and curiosity within a history lesson is always a great way to engender a sense of interest and engagement. What follows are a few ideas which I have found work particularly effectively. What’s in the Bag? I am a big fan of using artefacts in the classroom to…

Undercover in Ancient Rome Simulation – Teacher Support Materials

Map, Structured Questions, Timeline and Instructions about how to complete the mission This pack provides you with a completed version of the map, answers to the structured questions, and a completed version of the ‘fill the gaps’ timeline exercise. Click here to access the simulation. (67 views) Share this:

Undercover in Ancient Rome Simulation – new worksheets and features.

Map, Structured Questions and Timeline In this task, students will use the interactive adventure to complete a schematic map which quickly allows you to identify the main sites and Emperors in Ancient Rome according to the simulation. There are then a detailed list of structured questions for each of the main locations, and ‘fill the…

Convert a teacher’s essay into a History magazine article

Overview It’s always good practice for teachers to write a timed essay at the same time, and in the same conditions, as their students. In this way students can immediately appreciate that you can ‘walk the walk’ and not just ‘talk the talk’. Moreover, they will then be able to compare their essays, and the…

Voyages of Discovery – New Online Simulation Game

Voyages of Discovery – New Online Simulation Game Overview This simulation introduces students to the Voyages of Discovery. These daring overseas adventures marked the beginning of globalization and European empire-building. By playing the game students will learn about some of the most important explorers, their discoveries, and the spices which they brought back to Europe….

Five Ideas for Model Making in History

Overview Designing and realising a physical model can be a very engaging and stimulating experience for bringing history alive for students in a novel and memorable way. It also provides some superb display material for creating an engaging classroom environment. Heraldic Shields A fixed feature of my school calendar is a study with younger students…

Studying Local History through Street Names

Overview The names given to our roads and streets provides a rich source of potential for local history projects. Students can research the events and people commemorated in these names to engage in some open-ended history that is not constrained by a particular topic, theme or period. The following example uses Google Maps to make…

Ideas for making the most of your old History magazines

Overview As digital archives of history articles become increasingly accessible for students and teachers, it’s easy for print versions of of magazines slowly gather dust on the shelves before being unceremoniously dumped onto the charity pile during the annual classroom clearout. But looked at more creatively, those old issues of History Today, Modern History Review…

Ideas for using tastes and smells in the History classroom

Overview The benefits of using audio-visual sources in the history classroom is well-established. However, it is much rarer for teachers to make use of sources which appeal to the sense of taste and smell, even though these are just as thought-provoking and evocative and perhaps even more so. Obviously take care though to have due…

Building Teenage Heroes into the History Curriculum

Overview A common complaint about History is that it is dominated by white, middle-class, middle-aged men. Or, as Jane Austen put it, “The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all — it is very tiresome”. Much has…

Z-A: Word Association Quiz format for starters/plenaries

Overview The Z-A quiz format involves revealing a series of words or phrases, letter by letter, in reverse alphabetical order. Students, organised into teams, win points if they are the first to identify what all the words/phrases have in common. As soon as a hand is raised, the teacher ‘stops the clock’ to hear the…

Historiography of the Berlin Blockade

Historiography of the Berlin Blockade Students are presented with a detailed article about the causes and consequences of the Berlin Blockade and a series of structured questions to help familiarise them with some of the key debates and interpretations. Part of the “Origins of the Cold War” Unit (172 views) Share this:

Bringing Codes and Codebreaking into the History Classroom

Overview When studying topics involving intrigue, secrets or subterfuge, present students with the essence of the story in the form of a coded message familiar at the time. Challenge them to decode the message to engage them effectively from the outset. Case Studies Lady Jane Grey (Caesar Cipher) The famous “nine days’ queen” is Lady…

Design personalised number plates as a revision exercise

Overview As a revision exercise, get students to design personalised number plates for historical characters they have studied. Accompany each one with a series of quiz questions which can be used to review the course in an engaging way. To help students review key dates, people, places and relevant quotes, provide students with a list…

Lotus diagram templates for essay planning

Lotus diagram templates for essay planning Overview I’m grateful to Shani Hartley for introducing me to Lotus Diagrams. These are graphic organisers that help students break down a question into key factors or arguments and then methodically summarise the essential knowledge that can be used to substantiate each one of these. In some respects Lotus Diagrams are similar…

SMS Generator: Create an imagined text conversation between two characters

Create an imagined text conversation between two characters In order to highlight the differing viewpoints of two historical characters, or to consider more closely the relationship between them, produce an imaginary dialogue between them in the form of a text-message conversation. Start by asking students to identity some of the central dramatic moments within the…

Voyages of Discovery Simulation: Follow-Up Classroom Project

I have added a ‘choose your own homework / markscheme‘ project to follow-on from the Voyages of Discovery Simulation. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what my students come up with for the first time after the holidays! (53 views) Share this:

Five techniques for building visual literacy in the History Classroom

OVERVIEW  Political cartoons are a mainstay of the history classroom and provide a wonderful tool not only for starter and plenary activities, but invaluable raw material for helping students draw deductions, compare interpretations and substantiate their own judgements by bringing in additional background knowledge. They also provide an accessible way into the historical debate for…

Calendar of Historical Anniversaries, 2019-2020

Calendar for Educators, 2019-2020 The following project developed from my “History in the News” facility which I also recommend you look at. 1. Here is a FREE printable calendar providing notable anniversaries (multiples of 50 years only) for research, discussion, assemblies and personal projects. Ideas for student tasks: Choose one event to research further and…

Renaissance Florence Simulation – updated, relaunched

The “Time Machine Journey to Renaissance Florence” simulation has been updated with video clips, a ‘save game’ feature so that they can play over several lessons and the ability for students to print off a personalised certificate of achievement when (and if!) they finish the mission successfully.   (150 views) Share this:

Comparing / contrasting the impact on two states: the USA / the DDR

Comparing / contrasting the impact on two states: the USA / the DDR In the earlier exercise students worked collaboratively to determine the impact of the Cold War upon the DDR. As a revision exercise, they will now compare and contrast this experience with that of the United States by reviewing their work on the…

Video viewing notes: “The DDR: Lost World of Communism”

Video viewing notes: “The DDR: Lost World of Communism” Minute-by-minute viewing notes for this excellent BBC documentary for students to use as a way of deepening their understanding. This is part of a unit of study on Communist East Germany. This concludes with an essay on the subject “Analyse the impact of the Cold War upon…

Analyse the impact of the Cold War upon the DDR

The Impact of the Cold War upon the DDR The impact of the Cold War upon one state, and a comparison and contrast of the impact of the Cold War upon two states from different regions, is a possible focus of exam questions. The following unit was designed to provide an academically rigorous follow-up task…