History is one of the most exciting and interesting subjects of the educational program for many students, as it allows them to know and understand the most relevant events of the past which helps them make sense of contemporary events. However, sometimes it can be a bit dense and heavy because of the amount of concepts, dates and names that are introduced. To avoid this, we offer a series of tips for history teachers to make the most dynamic and entertaining classes possible.
How can you improve your history classes?
History teachers can introduce different resources and techniques to keep students’ attention and to have them actively participate during the lessons. These are the key tips for history teachers that you should keep in mind.
1. Contextualize time periods clearly
There are so many events that occur throughout history that it is normal for students get confused and to mix events from different times. To avoid this, it is helpful for history teachers to present simple and attractive notes that summarize the evolution of different historical stages and contextualize the events and individuals within these. To do this, you can use the GoConqr mind maps which allow you to connect different learning points in an accessible way. You can create a simple visual outline and add annotations or resources in the background to provide further detail if necessary. In many cases, a well-constructed image may be much clearer to students than a long and detailed explanation.
2. Prepare engaging narratives
Building a story that appeals to students is one of the most important tips for history teachers. The beauty of this subject is that you have at your disposal countless of interesting stories, but it is important to focus them in a way that excites the students. So you have to prepare a narrative with beginning, development and conclusion that arouses and maintains interest, for example by including anecdotes about the lives of the main characters. You can plan the lessons if it were a book or a movie; you can take a series of real events and – without distorting or changing them – you can focus them at your convenience to generate a powerful narrative that arouses emotions and curiosity in the students.
3. Include films and documentaries on historical periods
There are great films, such as “Schindler’s List” or “Downfall”, which can arouse the sensations and emotions of historical events in a way that is impossible to do through oral transmission. No matter how well we explain the horrors of Nazism, students cannot be aware of their magnitude until they see films which show the impact of Nazism and enable them to empathise with those involved. The occasional use of films or documentaries by history teachers in class can enrich the lesson and provide a greater background to the students.
4. Encourage competition
If most students are bored with the lesson, it is time to organize competitions between groups. You can divide the class into different teams and ask a series of questions about the topic to see which group knows more. It is one of the more important tips for history teachers and a good way to engage students and encourage them to take an active part in the classroom, as they will want to perform well in front of their peers, so they have an extra incentive to learn the lesson and be more attentive.
5. Take trips to museums
If there’s a museum or a location near your school that may be relevant to your history classes… do not hesitate to visit with your students! History teachers should be informed about exhibitions related to the issues they address in class, as they can be very enriching for students. Witnessing in person a monument or archaeological remains can help them to have better understanding of life, customs and culture in the past.
Following these tips for history teacher, you can be a better educator and add value to your classes. If you have other strategies or know of other useful resources for history teachers, do not hesitate to share them with us through our different social networks.