“Beat the Teacher” – Hotseating with an edge!

This is a great way of encouraging students to conduct vigorous research in preparation for a debate about the success/failure of a particular ruler. It can be conducted either as a way of revising and consolidating topic knowledge at the end of a unit, or as an intensive means of studying the topic for the very…

“Linkage Bingo” to summarise and connect key factors

This whole-class game is a great way firstly to summarise issues of cause or effect, and then (most importantly and most challengingly) to link them together in a meaningful way prior to students producing a written essay. The class will be divided into 5 teams and one piece of scrap paper to jot down ideas….

Answer Buzzers for Revision Quizzes

A quick search for “Answer Buzzers” on Amazon will provide you with a link to something like this. They are a great way of adding a bit of fun to team revision quizzes with the teacher in the hotseat as the quizmaster!   Taking it further In team quizzes, I usually nominate one person in…

Target Diagrams for Categorisation

The ClassTools Target Diagram Generator is a fantastic way of getting students to break down a key question. Three factors are placed in the centre of the diagram. In the next layer, each factor can then be broken into two examples. In the final layer, each of these examples can then be substantiated with factual detail…

“On School Report!” – A fun way of evaluating factors and individuals

When assessing the successes and failures of a particular historical figure, consider approaching the task in the form of a “school report”. This can be the basis of a consolidation exercise at the start of the topic, or an intensive and efficient way of covering fresh material step-by-step. Start by identifying the main ‘subjects’ that…

Diamond Diagrams for Prioritisation

Overview: Students produce or are given 9 pieces of information which they arrange in order in a diamond diagram. Examples: Arrange outcomes of the Treaty of Versailles from most successful to least successful; Arrange medieval jobs from highest status to lowest status; arrange historical figures from most significant to least significant. Taking it further: Students…

“Takeaway Homework”

In a ‘Takeaway Task’, students are given the flexibility to design their own project assignment based on one cell, row or column of the table. The task is constructed so that the table in itself provides a useful overview of the topic (in this case, the Origins of the British Empire). When students are told that they will be…

“Factor Auction”

This is a great idea to get students to think more creatively about which factors are the most important to cover in their written work. I think I originally came across at a session by @MrsThorne at the SHP Conference (who informs me that the slide originally came from @JiveSpin – we’re a professionally incestuous…

Create a “Fakebook” Profile for a key character

When researching a key character, students could frame and present their findings by creating a fake “Facebook” profile using the Fakebook application at ClassTools. Using this tool, students can create a timeline of a person’s life, written in the first person and in the present tense (to help prevent ‘cut and paste’ syndrome). They can…

Creative Acronyms for Topic Revision/Introductions

For revision purposes, creating memory words, with each letter representing the first letter of another key word, is an effective way of getting students to reflect on factual information and construct an effective way of recalling a larger amount of information. At the start of a topic too, it can also be used as a…

“Create a Google Doodle to represent our topic”

At the close of a topic or as a revision exercise, ask students to design their own ‘Google Doodle’ to represent the essence of the subject. What symbols, colours, terms could they use? This is an idea from @littlestobbsy on Twitter. (2186 views)

PieChart Prioritisation

At the end of a unit of study about causation, ask students to divide responsibility between factors in an Excel template which automatically converts the percentage splits into piecharts; thereafter they have to explain their reasoning. Here’s an example where students had to reflect upon WHO and WHAT was most responsible for the First World…

Causation Diagram Template

The following image comes from an old textbook, and illustrates the respective importance of long, mid and short-term factors in causing World War One. I created a ‘blanked out’ version which I provide to students at the end of a topic and ask them to decide what factors they would place in the various spots in the…

Create a Subject-Themed Spotify Jukebox

I am a big fan of using music in my lessons. Sometimes this is simply some quiet classical music to help create a calm working atmosphere, sometimes though it is great to have subject-related songs playing as students come into the room or to provide some stimulating source material (e.g. by analysing the lyrics). I…

Create Bookmarks as Rewards

I designed a range of subject-themed bookmarks using an image editing program. I then printed these off in colour, laminated them and cut them out to give out to students as prizes for good work. They went down a treat! You can download my history-themed bookmarks, which look something like this: (943 views)

“Only Connect!”

I have coded this brand new quiz generator based on the popular BBC Quiz game! Provide students with 16 subject-specific terms in a 4X4 grid. Teams have to re-arrange the grid into four horizontal lines of connected terms. They then have to explain the connection between the 4 terms in a fifth column in each row. Taking it…

6 Hats. 6 Interpretive Approaches.

Practical applications for the ‘De Bono’ Approach The teacher will take the role of someone with a “Green Hat” If they have not already been decided upon in advance in an assembly, they will choose (or ask the class to vote on) one of the numerous “Imagine a world” discussion points which are provided (or…

Create a tweet for a fictional/historical character

The “Twister” template allows you to create fictional “status updates” that can then be printed off for display purposes. Students could be asked What are the most important people in this topic? What was their most important moment within the topic? What would their comment be about it? What particular keywords would they use within…

Interpretation Tracker

At the start of the lesson, ask students to write down their initial answer to a key question that is about to be considered further. Partway through the lesson, and then at the end of the lesson, ask them to repeat the process. Students then read the comments. How have our interpretations changed? Whose views…

Interpretation via Triangulation

It is always a interesting to compare and contrast the differing views of students on key questions. When the debate can be reduced to an either/or option (e.g. ‘success or failure?’, ‘hero or villain?’) this can be done most simply by students organising themselves along a continuum line. When the debate is based around three main interpretations,…

Museum in a Box

I really like this idea from @ChrisWaterworth, who shared this nice picture of “Our school collection of Borrowers Homes” as a primary school project. This reminded me of the concept of a “Museum in a Box”, which would follow on neatly from the ‘Curate an Exhibition‘ task outlined in this earlier post. Once students had decided…

Balloon Debates!

“You are in a hot air balloon that is losing height rapidly. It will soon crash into the side of a mountain because it is overweight. To prevent the certain death of everybody on board, only one person will be allowed to stay in the balloon!” Balloon debates are a great way of promoting research…

Google Hangouts for the Classroom: Quickstart Guide

“Google Hangouts” video conferences are a superb way of bringing fresh voices into the classroom from anywhere in the world. It was by using Google Hangouts that my students interviewed Professor Orlando Figes at Birkbeck University recently with great success. Best of all, by choosing ‘Hangout on Air’ you get your video published directly to…

Google Books for Student Research: 3 minute video guide

For extended essays, internal assessments and personal projects, Google Books is fast becoming an indispensable research resource for both teachers and students. I put this 3-minute guide together after making extensive use of Google Books during the research and writing of my forthcoming textbook on “Luther and the European Reformation” (available as from Easter 2015 from…

Make a Mask!

When conducting debates in role, get students to create a simple mask to add an extra dimension to the event. Use Google Images to locate an image of the character’s face. Copy and paste this into Word. Scale it up so it fits the available space. Print off on A4 and it will be roughly the…

“Design a DVD Inlay”

As a way of consolidating or revising knowledge and understanding of a study unit, students have to design a DVD inlay for a fictional documentary film / biopic. They should give careful thought to the images to include, the cast list, the reviews, the ‘blurb’ at the back, and so on – using real DVD…

“Guess the Stats”

To get students reflecting more closely on sources, it is a good idea to get the class to anticipate what they are going to say before showing them. The method by which this can be done with textual sources is the subject of this post. With statistics, this can be done in the form of…

“Leaderboard Challenge” for ‘Fling the Teacher’

During revision time I start every lesson with a ‘Fling the Teacher’ quiz on the topic to be covered in that lesson. Prior to the lesson, I warn students what the topic will be so they can revise. At the start of the lesson, I outline the main task for the lesson so they know…

“Design a new page for your textbook”

Students identify an aspect of the topic that is not covered in sufficient detail in their standard level textbook. They then have to produce a page or a double-spread in the same style of the textbook covering that particular topic area, complete with sources, questions and other tasks as appropriate. Thanks to @BSB_Humanities for the…

Sourcework Anticipation Task

After knowledge of a topic has been developed, provide students with a written source addressing a key question relating to the topic, but with key details deleted. Students can then work alone or in pairs to anticipate how the source will look when complete. How will the author explain his points? What evidence will he use to substantiate…

Students design a Hollywood Film about the study topic

A great way to get students familiar with the key events of a historical person’s life and consider concepts of significance. Stage 1: Start by outlining the central task  [themify_box style=”purple comment rounded” ] You are a Hollywood director producing a film about [person / topic]. You will produce a poster advertising your film, including: –…

Image Wipe

Provide students with an image with key details partly obscured. Ask them to anticipate what might be going on, when and where it comes from, and any other relevant questions (see image slideshow for ideas). Then uncover the image and ask them the same questions again. Finally, ask them to speculate about what happened before /…

“Open Me” Display Pieces

When producing a display poster summing up several ideas, students should identify a ‘cover image’ for each main part of the  piece. This should be ‘lifted up’ to expose the written detail. See the image for an idea of how this works. Taking it further: An even simpler method is to take a piece of A4,…

Design a Cartoon

For a homework exercise, get students to design a political cartoon to illustrate one key aspect of the topic from either a negative or a positive perspective. No words allowed. In a subsequent lesson, the pictures are swapped around and each student answers the question “What is the message of this cartoon?” using the framework…

Challenge Grid

A simple twist on a factual test. Colour code different questions in a grid by difficulty. Students choose which questions to answer in the time available and get scored accordingly. An idea originally shared by @MsLiddell.     (870 views)

Living Graph

A “Living Graph” encourages students not only to select the most important events within a topic, but also to rate them (over time) against criteria such as success and failure, strength and weakness, significance and insignificance. Stage 1: Brainstorm: Ask students, working individually or in pairs / small groups, to identify what they consider to be…

Silent Discussion

This is a great way of getting students to conduct some close reading of detailed sources. The lesson is framed around a key question for investigation (which could be about causes, consequences, significance…), and then carefully selected sources are placed at different points around the room. Students move between the sources in pairs, in silence, annotating and…

Modern Makeover: Where would they be now?

Overview: After studying a historical character, students have to superimpose their face onto an appropriate modern scene / character and explain their choice. Taking it further: Some students should focus on producing positive impressions, other negative – in other words, some images are designed to work as propaganda, whilst others could have been produced by their…

Students design a cover image for their topic packs

Overview: When you provide your students with a printed work pack, or even if they have their topic notes in a ring binder with separators, ask them to decide upon an appropriate cover image with an explanation of its relevance directly underneath. The image here shows examples from my Year 10 students, who produced front…

Speech-bubble PostIts onto paintings / photos / cartoons

Overview: Provide students with a photograph of a particular moment in history, then ask them to write speech-bubble PostIt notes to imagine what the characters might have been saying to each other. Taking it further: For cartoons, students have to provide a caption. This works even better if the cartoon has an original caption that it can…

“Keyword Challenge” revision game

Overview: This is a simple game which is a great way of rounding off a unit and revising important dates, concepts and people. It is particularly effective just before students have to produce some written work making effective use of key terms. Instructions Put students into teams of 4 or 5. The first member of the…

Timeline Jigsaw 

Overview: Provide students with a list of events running down the page. To the right of the events are two columns as so: Event My Guess  Correct Answer  Difference William has himself crowned as King of England Edward the Confessor dies Harold Godwineson swears to support William as the next King of England In “my…

Interpretation Exercise – Complaint Letters v. Advertising Blurb

Overview: After playing the Middle Ages Time Machine Adventure at activehistory.co.uk, Sidney wrote a complaint letter to the Time Travel Holiday Agent about her experiences. One half of the class wrote similar complaint letters focusing on the negative dimension; the other half wrote travel brochures focusing on the positive experiences! Examples: This approach can work for any…

Curate a Museum Exhibition

Provide students with a range of images relating to the topic. They imagine they are curating a museum exhibition on four separate walls. How will they categorise the images into four categories? How will they caption them? Examples: Portraits of Napoleon, Stalin or other dictators with a penchant for propaganda. Images of the Middle Ages. Images…

Source Evaluation Overlay Template

Overview: This template is designed to be placed over a written or visual source and provides a scaffolding framework to help students develop source work evaluations skills. Taking it further: Ask students to focus on the issues highlighted in the left-hand column first and make annotations as appropriate. Then they swap with a partner, read…

Peer Assessment Slips

When conducting group work, there is always a danger that certain students might take a bit of a back seat and let their teammates do all the work. To avoid this, provide the students in advance with a ‘peer assessment’ slip. At the end of the lesson / project, each student should complete the slip by…

Using Hexagon Learning for categorisation, linkage and prioritisation

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. Read a detailed case study here. I have created an Online Hexagons Generator at ClassTools.net.  …

Tic Tac Know

Great idea by @sallyluane: ‘Tic Tac Know’: Write a grid of keywords. Each student gets a point for each sentence they construct using all the words in a particular horizontal / vertical / diagonal line. Taking it further: Get the students to decide upon the words. If more than one student opts for the same…

Rival interpretations

To assess the causes, consequences or significance of an event, ask students to produce an answer from the perspective of one or more particular witnesses. For example, How would the Kaiser’s explanation of Origins of World War One differ from that of the British Prime Minister? How would Hitler explain his rise to power? How would this compare…

“Wheel of Life” Template

A simple, visual way to evaluate historical and literary characters from more than one perspective! Students choose a fictional or historical character to evaluate and write their name into the template. Decide on at least 4, but up to 8, ways to rate your historical/fictional character (e.g. loyalty, friendliness, intelligence, determination, tolerance – this is…