Students gradually improve their historical writing skills as they progress through the junior cycle. Students master the key term, the sentence, the paragraph and the essay, in that order. Each step takes time and effort to master.
Needless to say, failure to master the key term or the sentence will result in below standard paragraphs and essays. As such, it is important to implement strategies to develop the basic skills of historical writing.
Develop the sentence is one strategy that a teacher can use to improve students' historical writing skills. Give a set of only fair sentences and challenge the students to develop each one to a very good sentence. Model the task by giving an example.
Take feedback and give praise!
Download the blank template provided.
Develop the Sentence Template
A factual errors task or 'find and fix' is a good example of how teachers can test student knowledge.
Give students an account based on a topic which has been covered. The account will contain a set number of errors. The students must read the account carefully, then show the errors using a highlighter.
Using their knowledge of the topic, they must then give the correct facts. The teacher should take feedback, and ask questions to generate discussion.
Consider assigning an extension task. For example, get them to research online a related topic and then write their own account.
Walkabout Bingo is a fun strategy for getting students to work with each other.
Every student gets the same set of questions on a chosen topic e.g. Medieval Life. The students walk around the classroom and get the answers from each other.
They can only get one answer from any one classmate. Therefore, if there are eight questions, the student must get eight classmates, answering one question each. The answer and the name of the student who provided it are recorded.
The first student to get all correct answers and call BINGO, wins! Consider giving a reward e.g. subject department bookmark.
The activity continues until everyone has a full set of answers. Follow up by taking feedback.
This strategy can be used at the beginning, during or at the end of a lesson or unit of learning. Try this strategy by using the resources below. Enjoy!
Sample Walkabout Bingo: Medieval Life
Blank Template: Walkabout Bingo
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Introduce at the beginning of a unit of learning. Keep copies of associated materials in class:
Allow for three levels of difficulty; Low (L), Medium (M), and High (H). Students can't repeat a task and must choose at least one from each level before the unit is complete. Introduce a Wildcard (W) option to encourage creativity.
This strategy allows both high, and low achieving students to 'take ownership' of homework, be creative and attempt tasks at their own level, with scope to try something harder.
Give students time to present their homework in class. Display some examples on the classroom display board or walls. Give plenty of praise!
Download - Choose your own history homework
#HISTEDCHATIE is a new twitter hashtag for history teachers, educators in Ireland. Purpose is to share ideas, resources, and promote a stronger sense of fellowship among Irish history teachers. Please use and share!
Flashcards are a very effective tool for helping students retain knowledge. This is a particularly useful strategy for history. Below is a student guide to using flashcards. This can be downloaded and printed.
Download and print guide:
Exit slips help students reflect on what, and how they learn. A few minutes before the lesson concludes, the teacher gives the students a verbal prompt. Examples:
Below is a Facebook status exit slip. These are distributed. Students follow the prompt and compose their thoughts. The teacher collects the exit slips and uses them to help plan the next lesson.
They could be put on display and used as an aid to recap what was learned in the last lesson.
History Matters 365 Blog
A history teacher's survival guide.
Christian O' Connor, History Teacher, St. Mary's Secondary School, Mallow, Co. Cork.
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