Showing posts with label World History Lessons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World History Lessons. Show all posts

Thursday, April 14, 2016

5 Online Activities for Teaching With Primary Sources

As a history teacher one of my favorite yet challenging things to do was introduce my students to primary sources. It's great because it reveals to them a whole new world of research opportunities. There's nothing better than a student saying, "wow! Mr. Byrne, look at this!" At the same time learning to read, evaluate, and utilize primary sources can be long process with some students. The following are some of the online activities incorporating primary sources that I've done with my students over the years.

1. Compare textbooks, primary sources, and Wikipedia.
This is a rather simple activity that I've done over the years as an introduction to the value of primary sources. In the activity I provide students with a textbook entry, a Wikipedia entry, and a primary source document about the same event or topic. I then have them read all three and compare the information about the event. The outline of questions for students is available in this Google Document that I created.

2. Guided reading of primary sources through Google Documents.
One of my favorite ways to use the commenting feature in Google Documents is to host online discussions around a shared article. Through the use of comments connected to highlighted sections of an article I can guide students to important points, ask them questions, and allow them to ask clarifying questions about the article. All the steps for this process are outlined in Using Google Documents to Host Online Discussions of Primary Sources.

3. Historical Scene Investigations.
Historical Scene Investigation offers a fun way for students to investigate history through primary documents and images. Historical Scene Investigation presents students with historical cases to "crack." Each of these thirteen cases present students with clues to analyze in order to form a conclusion to each investigation. The clues for each investigation come in the forms of primary documents and images as well as secondary sources. HSI provides students with "case files" on which they record the evidence they find in the documents and images. At the conclusion of their investigation students need to answer questions and decide if the case should be closed or if more investigation is necessary. (Once you have done a couple of these with your students it becomes easy to craft your own HSI activities or have them craft HSI activities for each other).

4. Create videos and posters featuring primary sources.
The National Archives Experience Digital Vaults is one of the resources that I almost always share in my workshop on teaching history with technology primary sources. The Digital Vaults offers good tools that students and teachers can use to create content using images and documents from the National Archives. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how students can create digital posters and movies in the National Archives Experience Digital Vaults.



5. Layer old maps on top of modern maps.
In Google Earth your students can layer images of old maps on top of current maps. This is a great way for students to see how early cartographers saw the world. It can also provide some insight into how and why early explorers chose the paths that they traveled. The David Rumsey Historical Map collection is my go-to place for historical maps.

Learn more about these activities and many others in my online course Teaching History With Technology

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sights and Sounds of the Berlin Wall

Sunday will mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. To mark the occasion, SoundCloud (a German company) has produced a 7 minute 32 second recording of sounds of the Berlin wall. The recording is that length to match the amount of time it would have taken for a sound to travel the length of the Berlin Wall. The recording features sounds of guards, dogs, gunfire, and politicians. Along the soundtrack you will see annotations. Each annotation lists a person who died trying to cross the wall.

The Google Cultural Institute has exhibitions about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Visions of Division is a collection of images, videos, and text documenting the history of division of Berlin. The Fall of the Berlin Wall takes viewers through the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Watching the fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the moments in my childhood when I realized that I really enjoyed learning about world events. I distinctly remember watching the ABC Nightly News that evening (on and old black and white T.V., we got a color T.V. for Christmas six weeks later). On YouTube I found some clips from that broadcast. I've embedded one of those clips below.


H/T to The Next Web for the SoundCloud recording. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Crash Course World History 201

Last year John Green produced a Crash Course on world history. Recently, Green launched Crash Course World History 201. The new course is intended to go into more depth on some topics and fill in the gaps of the previous course. As Green states in the introduction below, the videos are not intended to prep students for the AP exam, they're intended to make students think about world history.


Monday, May 13, 2013

5 Excellent Educational Activities Developed by @RusselTarr

Over the weekend Russel Tarr who has developed many excellent, engaging tools for teaching history was the subject of an unprovoked and unfair attack by England's Education Secretary, Michael Gove. You can read all about it here. I appreciate Russel's work and I know that many other history teachers do too. To support Russel I'd like to highlight five of his Active History activities.

The Worst Jobs in History is a series of three interactive learning experiences. In The Worst Jobs in History students learn about the dirtiest, most dangerous, and tiring jobs in three time periods. The time periods are Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern. In each activity in The Worst Jobs in History students read short descriptions of jobs and rank them according to how dirty, dangerous, or tiring they think that they are. After ranking the jobs students can take a short online quiz about what they read about the jobs. There is also the option to download a worksheet to use with the activities.


Mission Map Quest is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.  The QR code in this post will take you to Russel's demonstration of Mission Map Quest. You can also click this link to try it from the student perspective. The demonstration has a WWI theme.


Fakebook Animated is a free tool that students can use to create and share fake facebook pages. The ninety second video here provides a good overview of how it works. Fakebook Animated allows you to watch the timeline of your fake Facebook profiles unfold over time. For an example, click here to watch Harry Truman's Fakebook profile unfold over time. The gallery of Fakebook profiles features some of the many Fakebook profiles that students have created over the years.

The Classtools SMS Generator is free to use and does not require students to log-in. To use the SMS Generator just click the left speech bubble icon and enter a message. Then to create a reply just click the right speech bubble icon and enter a new message. You can make the exchange as long as you like. To share the conversation click the sprocket icon and grab the embed code, direct link, or QR code for the exchange.


The QR Treasure Hunt Generator provides you with all of the things you need to get started creating your own QR codes and using them in your classroom. To use the QR Treasure Hunt Generator type out a series of questions and answers, generate the QR codes using the tool Russel Tarr provides, then print and display the codes around your classroom or school. Click here to view a sample QR Treasure Hunt. The QR Treasure Hunt Generator recommends having students visit Kaywa to get QR readers for their phones. My recommendation is if your students have Android phones have them try the free QR Droid app. If your students have iPhones they can try the free NeoReader App

Monday, April 29, 2013

Explore 20th Century World History Declassified

The Wilson Center Digital Archive recently published a new set of 73 collections of declassified historical documents. The documents contain memos and transcripts of communications between diplomats and country leaders. The collections are arranged into topics and themes. You'll find collections of documents related to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the origins of the Cold War, and Sino-Soviet relations.

Applications for Education
My first thought when looking at these collections of documents was to have students use these documents to fill-in the gaps in their history textbooks.

You could also give students some of the communications without the names of countries or diplomats showing. Then ask them to use their knowledge of the situation to determine which country or diplomat would have sent that communication.

H/T to Open Culture.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dirty Jobs of the Middle Ages

The Worst Jobs in History is a series of three interactive learning experiences developed by Russel Tarr and hosted on his site Active History. In The Worst Jobs in History students learn about the dirtiest, most dangerous, and tiring jobs in three time periods. The time periods are Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern.

In each activity in The Worst Jobs in History students read short descriptions of jobs and rank them according to how dirty, dangerous, or tiring they think that they are. After ranking the jobs students can take a short online quiz about what they read about the jobs. There is also the option to download a worksheet to use with the activities.

Applications for Education
The Worst Jobs in History provides students with some history lessons that are fun and are not found in your typical history textbooks. The worksheets could be handy if you want to have a record of what your students did within each activity.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

European Exploration - A Game for Learning About The Age of Discovery

Last week Glenn Wiebe published a list of iPad apps for history teachers. One item in that list that was new to me was European Exploration: The Age of Discovery. This free iPad app puts students in charge of exploring the "New World." In the game students are in charge of selecting explorers and ships to send out to the New World. Students have to manage the finances of their expeditions so that they don't run out of money before they can return home safely.

European Exploration: The Age of Discovery provides students with historical information about the explorers that are available to lead expeditions. Some of the explorers available include Giovanni da Verrazano, Christopher Columbus, and Juan Ponce de Leon. The explorers are graded based on their navigation, cartography, and shipkeeping skills. Each explorer has a different salary which students must account for when managing the budgets of their expeditions.

The object of the game is to unveil the entire New World. To do this students draw expedition maps and send out their explorers. If the expedition is successful it will earn money that students can then parlay into financing another expedition. Successful managers of European Exploration: The Age of Discovery will be able to manage multiple expeditions simultaneously.

Applications for Education
European Exploration: The Age of Discovery could be a great way to get students interested in the expeditions of early European explorers. To extend the game you could have your students research why some explorers in the game have higher navigation, cartography, and shipkeeping rankings than others.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A History of the World in 100 Objects and Podcasts

A History of the World in 100 Objects is a one hundred episode podcast series from the BBC. Each podcast in the series examines an object from The British Museum. The podcasts explain each object's significance in history. Each episode in the series is about fifteen minutes in length. Some of the objects featured in the series include an Egyptian clay model of cattle, an Arabian bronze hand, and The David Vases.

Applications for Education
A History of the World in 100 Objects could be a good companion to the BBC's History of the World interactive object timeline. Students can listen to the podcasts and look for the objects on the timeline. The podcasts could be good supplementary materials for a multimedia history ebook.

H/T to Open Culture.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interactive Maps of Travel Routes Throughout the Roman Empire

On Friday Open Culture posted a resource that I think anyone who teaches about the Roman Empire needs to check out right away. ORBIS is Stanford University's Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire.

On ORBIS students can calculate the distance and travel times between 751 settlements in the Roman Empire. The calculations happen according to the modes of travel that would have been used during the time of the Roman Empire's greatest height. For example, I calculated the time and cost to travel by foot, wagon, and boat between Roma and Chalcis in March. The calculations include the cost of feeding donkeys along the way.

Click for full size image. 





Applications for Education
While you could certainly have students use Google Earth to map distances between settlements in the Roman Empire, ORBIS is a step above that because students can calculate travel times and distances according the modes of transportation that were available during the Roman Empire.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Exploring the Early Americas - Library of Congress Interactives

This morning I spent a bit of time exploring the Library of Congress's education resources. One of the resources that I particularly liked is the LOC's collection of eight interactive displays about the early Americas. The gallery of the early Americas interactives includes exploring interactive maps, investigating Mayan writings and artifacts, and short interactive lessons on paintings telling the story of early exploration of the Americas.

Applications for Education
The Library of Congress's early Americas interactives aren't the most in-depth resources I've seen, but they could be a nice part of a lesson. The Conquest of Mexico Paintings exhibit would make a nice visual lesson that combines history and art.

Monday, April 2, 2012

9 Resources for Teaching & Learning About the Titanic

I was asked if I could share some resources for teaching and learning about the Titanic. I had a few things already in my archives. Then I did some searching and came up with handful of additional resources to add to the list.

On Board the Titanic is a virtual field trip produced by Discovery. To take the field trip students select one of five characters to be as they set sail on the Titanic. When selecting a character the students do not know who they are or if they will survive until the night of the sinking. Students will spend four or five virtual days learning about the ship and their character. Only on the night of April 15, 1912 do they learn who they are and if they will survive.

From Snag Films and National Geographic, Secrets of the Titanic.



Watch more free documentaries

National Geographic is featuring the Titanic this month. One of the neat resources that they've put online is Unseen Titanic. Unseen Titanic has two galleries of interactive images of where the Titanic now rests under the Atlantic Ocean. The Crash Scene interactive gallery is a collection of artifacts found on the seafloor. Zoomified is the other gallery that National Geographic is featuring this month. The Zoomified gallery has four views of the submerged wreckage of the Titanic.

WatchKnowLearn has a collection of fifteen short videos about the Titanic. Included in that collection is this interactive timeline from History.com. The timeline starts with the construction of the Titanic and ends in 1913 with stories from survivors.

The Library of Congress offers an excellent lesson plan for middle school and high school students. The lesson plan requires students to analyze primary documents to construct the real story of the sinking of the Titanic. Students need to be able to identify bias and gaps in the stories of the sinking of the Titanic.

The BBC's Survivors of the Titanic Series contains 13 audio recordings of survivors relaying their experiences. The collection also includes six primary source documents. Titanic: Sinking the Myths is another BBC feature about the Titanic. Sinking the Myths analyzes five causes commonly blamed for the sinking of the Titanic.

National Geographic XPeditions has a Titanic lesson plan designed for middle school use. The lesson plan includes the use of 3D animations of the Titanic as well as a study of ocean currents.

On Open Culture I found a video of what may be the only existing film footage of the Titanic. The footage was shot in a shipyard while the Titanic was under construction.



Estate of Hans Jensen v. The White Star Line is a mock trial in which the plaintiffs bring suit against the Titanic's operators for negligence. You can read through each part of the trial or you could use the framework to recreate the trial in your classroom.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Google Maps Lesson Idea - Seasonings Around the World

On Wednesday morning I came across a neat article on NPR titled A Trip Around the World, By Way of Seasonings. The article is part of a series of recipes that call for using spices from places all over the world. The article gave me an idea for a Google Maps project in world history classes.

As any history teacher knows, discovering new travel routes for the spice trade was one of the motivations for early explorers. The idea I had was to have students research where those spices came from, which explorers went where, and plot that information on a Google Map or in Google Earth. Students using Google Earth could create a narrated tour of the world using the information that they include in their placemarks.

For directions on creating placemarks and tours in Google Maps and Google Earth, please visit my collection of Google tutorials.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The History of Spices

Earlier this week on the Cool Infographics blog I saw a neat infographic about the history of spices. The infographic contains information about the origins of various spices, which spices are most commonly traded in the world, and which spices are the hottest. The infographic also contains a small timeline of spices through history. I dropped the infographic into Zoom.it to make it fit below.



Applications for Education
One of world history topics that students are taught from an early age (I think I was in the third grade the first time I heard this) is that the spice trade was a motivating factor behind European sailing explorations. The History of Spices infographic could be a discussion starter in a basic world history lesson. Because the infographic isn't heavy on details, I might ask students to take one topic from the infographic and fill-in the rest of the story that is missing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Peru's Puzzling Lines

The cover story on this month's issue of National Geographic is The Genius of the Inca. Throughout the issue there are stories, images, and graphics about the Inca and about other Ancient Americans. As always National Geographic has produced some good online materials to supplement and complement the new issue. One of those online resources is titled Ancient Americans.

Ancient Americans is a set of eight articles, image collections, and interactive animations. One of the interactive animations that I found particularly interesting is the Nasca interactive. The Nasca interactive features a map of geoglyphs created by the Nasca in Peru's southern desert. Click an image in the key to see the corresponding geoglyph appear. To learn how the geoglyphs were created explore the interactive animations Creating the Geoglyphs.

Applications for Education
The Nasca interactives could be useful supplements to the images students might find in a world history textbook. The interactives allow students to see the process of creating the geoglyphs found in Peru.