“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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

“Z-A” QUIZ GENERATOR – ideal for lesson starters/plenaries!

A new quiz generator at www.classtools.net. How to play: Organise your students into teams. Your list of terms will slowly be revealed, letter by letter, in reverse alphabetical order. Students raise their hands as soon as they think they can: EITHER identify what the terms are (for 1 point) OR identify what all the terms…

Calendar for Educators, 2018-2019

Calendar for Educators, 2018-2019 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 deliver a…

Model Essay – How successful were Mussolini’s Domestic Policies?

Model Essay – How successful were Mussolini’s Domestic Policies? (note: teacher password required). An essay completed in timed conditions by RJ Tarr of www.activehistory.co.uk. 40+ Model History Essays by RJ Tarr of www.activehistory.co.uk As well as writing a number of articles for History Review magazine, I make it a habit to write essays in timed…

Model Essays on Mao’s China

Model Essays by RJ Tarr (note: teacher password required). Analyse the methods and conditions which led to to the rise of Mao as ruler of China. Compare and Contrast the Rise of Mao and Stalin (originally published in History Review) Compare and Contrast the Rise of Pinochet and Franco Compare and Contrast the Rise of Mao and…

Analyse the causes and consequences of the Korean War

Model Essay: Analyse the causes and consequences of the Korean War (teacher password required). A sample essay written by RJ Tarr of www.activehistory.co.uk. A sample essay written by RJ Tarr of www.activehistory.co.uk. 40+ Model History Essays by RJ Tarr of www.activehistory.co.uk As well as writing a number of articles for History Review magazine, I make…

40+ Model History Essays by Russel Tarr

As well as writing a number of articles for History Review magazine, I make it a habit to write essays in timed conditions whenever I set such assignments with my classes. These serve as very useful teaching aids which help students to develop their own essay-writing skills. Provided here are more than 40 essays and…

Create a Xmas (his)Tree for your classroom!

Here is a festive list of Christmas-themed History lessons for all secondary school year groups! You can also download this new set of 25 ‘baubles’ of historical events that took place over the Christmas season to make your very own Xmas (his)Tree! (129 views)

IB Extended Essay: Marksheet and Guidance

Marksheet and Guidance A student-friendly version of the IB mark scheme, combining the generic guidance from the IB as well as its subject-specific criteria for History. (220 views)

IB History Internal Assessments – sample studies

Here are a selection of IB History Internal Assessment studies from the International School of Toulouse that were graded highly in May 2017 (marks shown are those awarded after moderation by the IBO).   (249 views)

How to Establish a Whole-School Induction Project for Year 12

“Was World War Two a Period of Progress and Development?” For the past five years I have co-ordinated an intensive IB Induction project at my school here Toulouse. I am currently in the process of discussing how this can be developed and improved further with input and inspiration from my colleagues, and to help them…

NEW IB History Syllabus Curriculum Maps for 2015

The new IBDP History syllabus is very flexible, allowing for a wide combination of topics between the three exam papers (Sourcework, Standard Level Essays and Higher Level Essays). However, due to time constraints it is highly advisable to ensure as much overlap between the three papers as possible. With this in mind I have been…

TeachMeet, TeachEat, and much more besides…

Last week I flew out from Toulouse to London on Thursday afternoon with Estelle Ash and Simon Gregg for a busy weekend of events, meetings and great conversations with fellow educators. The full details of my trip are here. (641 views)

Sourcework Skills Overlay Template

This resource is designed to help the analysis of sources. Print if off, cut out the central area, laminate the remainder – then place the source underneath and use a non-permanent marker to annotate as necessary!     (1084 views)

The KeyWord Challenge 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…

Technology Tools for the #historyteacher Classroom – Google Hangout!

Last month I delivered a 50-minute talk to one hundred or so teachers of the OIB programme who were attending a conference in Sevres, France. I wasn’t able to attend in person so I used Google Hangouts to share some ideas and resources with a focus on the materials I have developed at www.activehistory.co.uk and www.classtools.net….

ActiveHistory Mystery: Cat Bottoms and Golden Cups!

This latest ActiveHistory Mystery, which I used with my Year 8 students, is based in the Middle Ages and involves cats’ bottoms, golden cups, mass murder and plenty of treachery… The “History Mysteries” lessons are designed as stand-alone projects which each last 3-4 hours. Through engaging historical topics, they teach skills of problem formulation, deductive reasoning,…

Remembrance Day: Memorials

Memorials “Almost every village, town and city in Europe has a memorial to a war which affected its community. In this activity you will consider the purpose of such memorials, research one in depth and contrast it with others from around the world using this PowerPoint Template” Part of a comprehensive set of Remembrance materials…

Remembrance Day: Peace Charities: Which should our school support?

Peace Charities: Which should our school support? This exercise involves students researching a range of different charities, debating their respective merits and deciding which should be the ‘official’ charity that the school should support this year. Could be a particularly good student council project / assembly (e.g. student council presents a range; students vote in…

Remembrance Day: Current Conflicts

Current Conflicts “Remembrance Day commemorates not just past wars, but also current ones too. In this activity you will research a current conflict, produce a one-slide summary using a PowerPoint template, and then compare it to others in order to reflect on the most common causes of warfare” (there is a research template available) Part…

Remembrance Day: Statistics and Infographics

Statistics and Infographics “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is just a statistic” said Josef Stalin. In this exercise we will familiarize ourselves with some of the key statistics relating to World War One, and consider creative ways in which we can present those statistics to make them more meaningful. Part of a…

Remembrance Day: Songs of War and Peace

Songs of War and Peace “In this activity we will research a whole range of war-related songs, divided between different members of the class. The outcome will be a compilation of what we consider to be the 10 best songs overall” Part of a comprehensive set of Remembrance materials for every single year group. (747…

Remembrance Day: Paintings of WW1

Paintings of WW1 Why do governments employ war artists? What makes a great work of art? What is the difference between art and propaganda? Students consider a range of different paintings, compare and contrast findings. My own selection of paintings can be used instead if you prefer: The Hero (Grosz) | Harvest of Battle, Hospital,…

Remembrance Day: Film of WW1: All Quiet on the Western Front

Film of WW1: All Quiet on the Western Front This exercise focuses on the German experience of World War One through the famous novel-turned-film. Students comprehend the final 30 minutes of the film then consider the techniques used in the film to get across its ‘peace’ message. Part of a comprehensive set of Remembrance materials…

Remembrance Day: Oral Testimonies

Oral Testimonies “The scale of warfare often leaves us numbed to its human impact. In the words of Stalin, “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic”. In this activity you will learn about the impact of war upon just one individual by using an online audio-visual archive of interviews with…

Remembrance Day: Propaganda Posters

Propaganda Posters Print off these 10 posters. Create a Venn diagram with them with the three circles representing: 1. Attempts to mobilise women 2. Attempts to recruit men 3. Attempts to generate anti-German feeling. Find other examples to add to the diagram if you have time.   Part of a comprehensive set of materials designed…

Remembrance Day: Debating the Issues: The De Bono Method

Debating the Issues: The De Bono Method Starting with a teacher’s introductory PowerPoint, “The teacher will take the role of someone with a ‘Green Hat’. They will choose (or ask the class to vote on) one of a range of ‘Discussion Points’ and each person in the class will be given a number between 2-5…

Remembrance Day: Red Poppy, White Poppy, both or neither?

For Year 12/13. The Nature of Remembrance: The White Poppy / Red Poppy Debate “Although Remembrance Day is an established day on the international calendar, there remains a great deal of debate about what exactly we should “Remember”. People who wear the Red Poppy have one opinion, and those who wear the White Poppy have…

Remembrance Day: Shot at Dawn

For Year 13 students. An activity based around first-hand accounts relating to soldiers ‘shot at dawn’ for cowardice during World War One. Discussion points and real debate possibilities relating to this thorny subject. There is also an extension task available based on information available on this website. Part of a comprehensive set of Remembrance materials…

Remembrance Day: Introductory Assembly

The Introductory Assembly This assembly outlines how every single year group in the school will be provided with a different task relating to Remembrance. The assembly focuses on conflicts taking place around the world to provide contemporary relevance every signly year. It can be adapted using this Wikipedia Page of current conflicts for the most…

Top 10 Free Activities for the History Classroom from ActiveHistory

ActiveHistory is updated so frequently with worksheets, interactive simulations and other resources that it’s sometimes difficult to keep track! Here are ten of the most popular FREE resources on the site (theActiveHistory Gallery provides lots more ideas and resources). To get full access to other resources available to subscribers, please sign up for a free trial. (1306 views)

“Back to School” ActiveHistory resources for all year groups!

It’s great to start the new school year with some suitably engaging activities. With that in mind I thought I’d share with your the resources I’ll be using with my teaching groups in case you want to make use of them yourself! There are plenty of syllabus changes taking place in different educational systems at…

World War One Battlefields Trip Materials, newly updated and developed

The following materials [click here] are designed to help teachers plan a trip to the World War One battlefields of the Somme and Ypres. There are two versions of the trip available. Each one comes with a detailed student workpack (plus teacher notes) which opens in Adobe Acrobat Reader. There is also a detailed itinerary…

History Podcasts Database

This project by @activehistory links to thousands of podcasts from many sources on history-related themes. Comments / suggestions welcome! Search by date, topic, country, keyword. There are already thousands available to search from! History Podcasts Database (1283 views)

“Who Tall Are You?” – Classroom display resource

• This resource is designed to be printed off on A3 paper, laminated and then placed at the appropriate height in the classroom. • Students (and teachers) are invited to stand against it and write their names at the appropriate height to find out which historical and current celebrities share the same height. Lesson /…

Historians on Twitter

I’ve just finishing putting together adynamically-updating list of professional historians on Twitter (at the current count, more than 300!) which you might find useful: Historians on Twitter (2407 views)

ActiveHistory: The Year in Review

I hope you have a good start to the New Year!  I have put together a summary of some of the main additions to ActiveHistory over the past 12 months. There may have been some that you have overlooked and I hope you find it useful. ActiveHistory: The Year in Review (1433 views)

The Mystery of the Crying Woman

This exercise [printable version] is best used when students have studied the following unit: Main events leading up to the outbreak of World War Two. (1166 views)

SOLO Hexagons Generator

SOLO Hexagons allow students to identify links between factors very effectively. Students categorise and link factors together for deeper understanding of the relationship between factors. This new template at ClassTools.net allows you to quickly create hexagons by simply cutting and pasting a list of terms direct from your word processor! (1555 views)

Teacher notes for the Franklin Expedition Mystery Unit

These teacher notes are designed to accompany the History Mystery on the Franklin Expedition (which opens up my studies with Year 9 Historians). The “ActiveHistory Mystery” approach is one which I use with Year 7, 8 and 9 at the beginning of the year. It provides an engaging start to the course, and the outcome…

Google Calendar for Educators

This calendar lists important annual events that might be commemorated in school lessons and assemblies. If you think any important dates are missing, please let me know using the feedback form. You can easily subscribe to this Google Calendar with the click of a button. (1279 views)

Model IB Essay: How Important was Lenin’s Role in the October Revolution?

Historiography and Essay Writing (there is also a teacher feedback presentation available, as well as a sample timed essay by RJ Tarr) Three broad schools of historiography are considered and students are asked which of the three most closely matches their own views. They are then provided with three essay questions. Homework is to prepare…

Was the October Revolution a Popular Uprising, or a Coup D’Etat?

Classroom Debate: Popular Uprising, or Coup D’Etat? (completed teacher version also available) The format of this debate and the worksheet provided to students is laid out in such a way that it also helps students decide whether methods or conditions were the most important, which is another popular format of question. Students formulate questions against…

Causes of the October Revolution Timeline Roleplay Exercise

Timeline Roleplay Exercise (interactive exercise using the Online ActiveHistory Presentation). In this exercise, students are asked to start organising evidence under four headings: (a) Provisional Government mistakes/weaknesses; (b) Bolshevik mistakes/weaknesses; (c) Provisional Government strengths/successes; (d) Bolshevik strengths/successes. The teacher will use this Online ActiveHistory Presentation to guide students through the key events between February and…

Fakebook – Relaunched, Reprogrammed!

The very popular “Fakebook” Application at ActiveHistory’s sister site www.classtools.net has been completely reprogrammed to bring it up to date with what Facebook now looks like in 2013. Use “Fakebook” to chart the plot of a book, the development of a character, a series of historical events, the debates and relationships between people, and so…

Posters – “What’s going on in my History Classroom?”

These posters (click on each for a larger version!) are designed to be printed, laminated and displayed outside your classroom so that passers-by can get a flavour of what’s being studied in your history classroom. They can be changed at appropriate points and they are a great way of highlighting the great topics that your…

New Historical Pictures Widget for your blog / website!

This brand new ActiveHistory widget provides a rolling gallery of historical images shared by some of my favourite people on Twitter. A great way to add a visual element to your blog or website, or to have on the screen as your students enter the room! Just click the widget icon at the top left…

Widget for your blog – Today in History

This new widget displays SIGNIFICANT anniversaries in history each day (e.g. 100 years today, 50 years today rather than the pointless type of ’73 years ago today’ announcements common in similar widgets). You can customise the size, font and colourscheme to match your own blog, website or wiki. (2684 views)

How to Organise a Cross-Curricular IB Induction Event

Did we emerge from World War Two a better civilisation?” A full article has been published in International Schools magazine outlining the IB Induction event which takes place at the International School of Toulouse. What is the basic proposal? • In the first week back after the summer holidays: a. Students in Year 12 will…

History in the News: Weekly Email Digest!

This new service from ActiveHistory allows you to sign up for a weekly newsletter providing you with essential upcoming anniversaries from NewHistory. (1062 views)

20 TED Talks for History Lovers

TEDTalks are short (usually no more than 20-minute) talks on a very wide range of topics and disciplines. The focus is often on science and technology, but there is an excellent range of lectures on subjects of interest to history lovers. Here is my personal selection of 20 TED Talks for History Lovers, taken from…

Fake SMS Text Message Generator

Use the icons in this new template to create a chat between two historical or fictional characters. You can save your work for future changes. You can drag and drop, edit and delete entries by hovering over them. After saving, you will also be able to get a QR Code or embed the chat into…

New for subscribers – View your access logs

This new feature allows whole-school subscribers to check their access logs. The logs are cleared out once a month to improve site performance but I hope this is a useful feature. (557 views)

Assembly Presentation: What is critical thinking? (PSHCE)

Part of the “Critical Thinking” unit. This presentation is given to the entire group and is designed to get them thinking about what critical thinking entails. In particular it provides students with an introdution into the De Bono 6-Hat Technique which will form the basis of the activity in the main part of the unit….

Voting Systems: Which is the most truly democratic?

This stand-alone assembly resource was something I put together when the school was preparing to hold student council elections. It highlights some of the essential problems with the whole nature of democracy and how votes should be interpreted. (947 views)

Are you Left or Right Wing? – Computer Simulation

Computer Simulation: Are you Left- or Right-Wing? This worksheet accompanies the computer simulation and guides students through a series of questions and asks students to choose the point of view they agree with most. At the end of the simulation the computer provides them with a breakdown of how far their decisions were Left- or…

Harvard Citation Generator

Other citation generators need YOU to do most of the hard work – and only look for books. This one searches for books, websites and films. All it needs is a web address or a title / author of a book / film. (1012 views)

IB History Internal Assessment – guidance and examples

A new section of the webiste. • Click on the various headings to get guidance in choosing a question and writing your study! • There are also fifteen exemplar studies for download from students at the International School of Toulouse which were all graded in the top level by the examiner! (14345 views)

Facebook Template

The popular ‘Fakebook’ template allows for the creation of Facebook profiles for students and teachers. It now has an ‘animate’ feature and there is an extensive list of sample profile pages to draw inspiration from. (997 views)

ActiveHistory Site Search Facility

Following feedback from subscribers I have added a custom site search facility. You will see the search box included at the bottom of all main menu pages in the website including the homepage. Hope you find it useful! (535 views)

Create a Fake Facebook Profile

I’ve just completed a major overhaul of “Fakebook” – a tool for creating Fake Facebook profiles with your students. It’s great for getting students to create profiles of historical and literary characters and events, for example. Try it out here! (35042 views)

Practical Technologies for the Classroom – Facebook Group

Following on from the successful conference which took place at my school on 30th March, I’ve set up a Facebook Group for Practical Technologies in the Classroom. Teachers are invited to sign up to share and exchange ideas! (896 views)

IB History Curriculum Map

I’ve updated my IB History Curriculum Map to reflect the way I currently teach the syllabus. I’m always changing things around but this approach is how I’m currently doing the course with my Year 12 students. (495 views)

QR Treasure Hunt Creator – Search feature

I’ve added a search feature so that you can check out some the most recently created QR Treasure Hunts made using the Classtools QR Treasure Hunt Generator. (528 views)

ActiveHistory Mysteries: new student record sheet/markscheme

After making lots of use of the “History Mysteries” format this year with KS3 in particular, I’ve redesigned the student record sheet and the markscheme for the project to reflect my experience of what’s working in the classroom. My Year 8 students are currently working on the “Gunpowder Plot” mystery. (455 views)