We all know that history class hasn’t always been a student favorite. With lengthy lectures and tedious textbook chapters on people and events that may be difficult to relate to, some students are sent barreling into the land of Anywhere But Here. Boring writing assignments and test questions cause many students to be left asking themselves: “Why am I even learning this stuff?” Although teachers often work hard to make their lessons interesting, the task of capturing and maintaining student interest can certainly be daunting for even the most seasoned of educators. Rest assured, things do not have to be this way.
It’s very possible to liven up a history lesson. One powerful way is through the use of technology. There are many ways to use online and digital resources as part of a student-centered classroom where students take responsibility for their own active learning. When history goes high-tech, great things can happen!
Here are a few ideas for activities that use technology to vibrantly breathe life back into monotonous history lessons:
Create digital historical timelines. Students are routinely asked to study facts and dates from timelines covering various periods of history. However, there’s a big difference between reading and studying a premade timeline and actually creating one yourself. Students can use free online resources to generate interactive timelines covering material that they need and/or want to learn. Interactive timelines allow students to create graphic representations of events, inputting the information that’s most important to them. A simple online search can produce a variety of timeline generators for student use.
Produce newspaper articles about historical events or figures. Students can get as creative as they’d like when writing the article. Perhaps they’d like to pretend to interview a famous (or not-so-famous) person in history to get a “firsthand” idea of what life was like at that time. Free online tools such as newspaper clipping generators and newspaper templates make this type of activity fun for students, and these tools can be used to record research and ideas.
Use social media to get to know people from the past. Social media has taken the world by a storm, and the vast majority of students know a great deal about sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One way to use this familiarity is to employ educational mock social media sites to give students a creative outlet to get to know the people they’re learning about in their history lessons. One site lets users create a Facebook-like page about anyone of their choosing. They get to list the person’s biographical info, likes and dislikes, achievements, and even create status updates that reflect how that figure might think about the goings-on of their times. What might Albert Einstein’s page look like? How about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s? Many mock social media templates are available online.
Bring digital storytelling to the classroom. Digital storytelling employs the use of various software programs to allow students to create historical documentaries. Moviemaking comes alive as students gather research, text, narration, images, videos, and audio pieces to tell stories from history that are important to them. They can share their documentaries with others by way of computer or television screens. No longer are students passive recipients of information; instead, they are active participants in their own learning. They are able to put their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to good use, along with much creativity.
History doesn’t have to be the subject that quickly puts students to sleep. With a little creativity and thinking outside of the box, it can actually become a class that students rush to each morning. Why not take history high-tech today?
How might you include technology-based learning and activities in your next set of history resources and materials?