Tag Archives: history

Causes of WW2, Hexagons!

Hexagons are better than circles or squares because hexagons fit together in many ways. Much has been written about Hexagon Learning, and this activity is my interpretation of it. I have used it twice in my classes and both times have been very successful. The best thing about this activity is that it gets students discussing and arguing about the Causes of World War 2. They have to come to an agreement about how to arrange the hexagons and because the possibilities are endless, many different versions will arise.

Below are three Word Files. I hope they speak for themselves.


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Recognizing and Addressing the Barriers to Adolescents’ “Reading Like Historians”

historical thinking

I believe that every History teacher should read Professor Jeffery Nokes’ well-written paper on “Recognizing and Addressing the Barriers to Adolescents’
“Reading Like Historians”. He makes a very strong argument for creating a learning and questioning culture that is more like the actual discipline of History, rather than just uncritically rote learning and accepting what is in a textbook. Nokes’ research is firmly rooted in real classroom practice, which makes it all the more powerful and easier to apply practically.

Below you will find my highlighted sections and summary of the article. There is also a very clear overview table that lists the four barriers to “Reading like a Historian” and some suggestions as to how to overcome these barriers.

Some resources:

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Critical Thinking (Coursera #1)

premises, not premiseI am enrolled in the Coursera Course “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges” by Professor Mayank Dutia, Dr. Celine Caquineau from Edinburgh University. It is  good to see how a MOOC is run and the course contains great videos and some very stimulating reading materials. I can already see how I can apply these skills to improve my students’ essay writing skills. Critical thinking means to gather and assess information in a logical, balanced and reflective way to reach conclusions justified by reasoned arguments based on the available evidence…. That to me sounds exactly like what a good IB History Essay should be like.

critical thinking

I hope to write some more posts about what I am learning. Here is the first one:

Essential Concepts in Critical Thinking

  • Fact: something which can be demonstrated to be true
  • Assertion: something that is held to be true, but which has not been, or cannot be, actually demonstrated to be true
  • An argument: a series of logical statements, leading to a fair conclusion, with reasons offered to support the conclusion.
  • A valid argument: is based on one or more premises (starting points), which may be facts, observations, or assumptions.
  • Premise: a previous statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion. Continue reading

Colorized Photos, Ghosts of History

I see more and more amazing examples of “colorized” (You have to use the US spelling to get more results on Google) photos and “ghosts of history” photos. New technology is really bringing history to life. Look at these two photos:

The original, from Reddit. The comments at the bottom of the Reddit stream are worth reading.

0g9S65w original

The “Ghost of History” version, combining the old and new version: (see Reddit comments here) Continue reading

Historians on World War 1, the debate goes on

Conservative politician Michael Gove, UK’s Secretary of Education

It promises to be a great year for World War One Historiography. In the first week of 2014 UK’s Tory Secretary of Education Michael Gove started a heated debate about the way the centenary of WW1 should be commemorated. Gove attacked the “Left-wing” and “the Blackadder” interpretations WW1. Twitter erupted in response and soon many respected historians weighed in on the debate. I found all of these viewpoints fascinating so I collected some of the recent articles and summarised them. Below you will find key excerpts of articles by Richard Evans, Gary Sheffield and Nigel Birrar. I outlined book reviews of Christopher Clark, Sean McMeekin and Margaret McMillan and there is a great article by History teacher John Blake. I included an old interview (YouTube) with Niall Ferguson on his book “The Pity of War” and there is a fantastic Twitter discussion between History teacher Russel Tarr and Historians Simon Schama, Tom Holland and Gary Sheffield.

It is vital for any society to discuss historical interpretations so we should be thankful to Michael Gove for igniting this debate. It also highlights the importance of good History teachers, they should present students with different viewpoints and let them arrive at their own well-informed and well-substantiated conclusions.

Download a Word version of the WW1 historiography dinner party. The sheet contains student tasks and all information in this post.

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History Blogs

Below is a list of blogs about History, as suggested by the participants of an online PD I am enrolled in for the IB History IA. One activity was to share our favourite History blogs.

  • I really like the aptly named “A Blog About History” (http://www.ablogabouthistory.com) which contains mainly news. Great way to keep up to date.
  • http://jivespin.wordpress.com/ John Mitchell shares a lot of creative resources for teaching history.
  • My preferred method of to keeping up with History news is using the app “Zite“. It allows you to choose areas of interest which the app will then aggregate and curate for you. (e.g. “History”. “Ancient History” “Archaeology” “World War II” etc etc.)zite



1. http://coldwarhistorian.com/
This blog is written by Nick Blackbourn. The website blog contains information for people specifically interested in the cold War. It is particularly useful as Blackbourn offers information on books and movies related to the topic which he reviews regularly. There is a newsletter which students can subscribe too and there is information of academic links that students can use. Blackbourn also comments regularly on latest developments within the history of the Cold War. Continue reading

HTAV Conference, Keynote speech: Richard Broome on Aboriginal History

Richard Broome, keynote speaker


Below are my notes taken during Richard Broome’s keynote. I picked up some interesting things, it was interesting to learn about the “history of Aboriginal history”. He referred to Guns, Germs and Steel, which is always good. I must say that Richard Broome’s style of delivery was a tad old-school, a long stream of interesting but rapidly delivered information; typical history professor! I think ‘learned’ people like this need to transfer their considerable knowledge in a more lively, engaging manner, this is taking me back to my uni days!

Notes: Continue reading

Skills in History and Geography (ACARA, IB DP and our Dept)

skills-abilities-knowledgeBelow are the History and Geography skills from three different frameworks / sources: The Australian National Curriculum, our own Humanities Department and the IB DP Group 3, History and Geography. It’s very useful to have them all together as they confirm and compliment each other.

History Skills Nat. Curr.

Skills needed in the Australian National Curriculum History, by the end of Year 10:

Content related

  • Refer to key events, the actions of individuals and groups, and beliefs and values
  • Students sequence events and developments within a chronological framework
  • Identify relationships between events across different places and periods of time
  • Explain patterns of change and continuity over time.
  • Use historical terms and concepts

Critical analysis

  • Analyse sources to identify motivations, values and attitudes.
  • Analyse and draw conclusions about their usefulness, taking into account their origin, purpose, and context.
  • Analyse the causes and effects of events and developments and explain their relative importance. Continue reading

Histedchat on Ancient History (28/11/12)

Histedchat, 28/11/12. Topic: Ancient History

Here are all the tweets with links from tonight’s #histedchat:

  • Janpcim #histedchat Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan at Melb Museum 2013 http://t.co/oy4xxSlJ Watch this -9:51 PM Nov 28th, 2012
  • neutrondecay RT @HistoryNeedsYou: The Vindolanda Tablets – letters written the Roman army at Hadrian’s Wall. V useful teaching resource #histedchat http://t.co/ALY7RT26 -9:36 PM Nov 28th, 2012
  • Janpcim #histedchat http://t.co/niIwQ7tn opening 2013 Afghanistan : Hidden Treasures @lizmvhums -9:35 PM Nov 28th, 2012
  • AnnabelAstbury #histedchat http://t.co/Vg9EAe2r some stuff I have bookmarked in the past -9:33 PM Nov 28th, 2012 Continue reading

IB History Category 2 Workshop, Auckland, July 2012. My personal notes.


Table of contents:
Day 1 | Paper 1 | Extended Essay | Day 2 | Paper 2 | TOK | IA / HI | Day 3 | Paper 3

Day 1

09/07/2012 (My Personal Notes)

IB History workshop, Category 2, July 2012. Auckland.
Key issues we’ll discuss during this workshop:
Marking, exchange ideas, using criteria, IA

  • Don’t count too much on the doubling up in P1, P2 and P3, you need to really have a spread of topics so that students are covered for everything. You may get a false sense of confidence if you rely on doubling up too much. G2 form allows you to give that sort of feedback to IBO.
  • It seems to be getting harder to get a 7 in History, this is a real issue for teachers and students who may both lose confidence. 68% as a grade boundary. No essay seems to be getting more that 16 marks.
  • Internal Assessment: Make the question evaluative, to what extent.
  • History is no a one answer subject, ever changing perspectives, continual developments, historiography. Global World.

After tea break session:

  • Teacher should aim to deliver a holistic education, include TOK. What is History? Create different perspectives (Note: Any examples?) i.e. Moroccan Crisis radio program seen from different countries’ perspectives. Or use the Japanese History book, look at how they interpret History (Get that PDF from Beate?).
  • Look at leaders through the Learner Profile. (i.e. Was Napoleon a risk taker?)
  • How does it fit with TOK?
  • Students should take ownership of own learning.
  • There is just written assessment, why? Oral would be good too.
  • Values in teaching: Inquiry, Cooperation, International Mindedness,
  • Suggestion: Speak and Response cards. I did a quick search: http://www.ehow.com/info_7933461_effects-response-cards-classroom.html seems interesting, must look more in to it.

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First World War.com – Feature Articles – If Germany Had Won World War 1…

  • In a way, this is a more interesting hypothesis than the more commonly asked  question about what the world would be like if the Germans had won World War II.
  • As a preliminary matter, we should note that the actual outcome of the First  World War was a near thing, a far nearer thing than was the outcome of World War  II after 1941.
  • Germany had knocked Russia out of the war
  • General Luddendorf panicked and demanded that the government seek an  armistice.
  • While the Germans were not militarily defeated, or even economically desperate,  the government and general public saw no prospect of winning.  Presented  with the possibility of negotiating a settlement, their willingness to continue  the conflict simply dissolved.
  • The Germans were defeated by exhaustion.  This could as easily have  happened to the Allies.  Continue reading

My Year 8 History buff and my frustration at our school system

This is an interesting read, it’s about Montessori’s model of learning. I like quite a few things in this article. The writer challenges the notion of what it means to be educated, saying that one is never ‘educated’ because you always keep on learning.


I have a student in my Year 8 class who is a History buff. He loves to talk about anything historical, and would like to keep me back at the end of each class to discuss something he’s read or talk about some interesting period in History.

My school offers some really interesting electives in Year 10 that this boy would love. He would even thrive in a Year 11 History class; he’d do so well. But he can’t. Our education system doesn’t allow for it. And when this boy finally gets to Year 11, and he finally studies the History that he’s been reading about for 3 years, he will probably not be as challenged anymore. He’ll be in a classroom full of kids who don’t have his background knowledge, and the teacher will have to go over all the things that this boy has already studied. Such a waste of his enthusiasm, his potential. It makes me sad and frustrated at our system of education.

Which country, which state, which government is going to be brave enough to bite the bullet and make schools truly about a love of learning, not just assessment factories? It would be political suicide. So we will have to be reliant on systems like Montessori, Steiner, homeschooling, and the IB to provide alternatives. If we get enough people choosing alternatives, maybe some governments will become brave enough to make a change….