Learning the history of the past is important in understanding our present and future. By studying history we are able to learn the mistakes that our ancestors made and not repeat them for the future. As a history buff, I believe that history tells an interesting and thrilling narrative. However, some students may find the subject to be quite dry. To make history class as interactive and fun, try out the following strategies.
Add a Visual Aid
A great way to captivate your students is by showing a film in class. You’ll find a number of films that are a great (and accurate) portrayal of a historical event. For example, if you are teaching your class about the Holocaust, Schindler’s List or The Diary of Anne Frank are both great films to show.
Have your students fill out questions during the film or hold a discussion after watching the film. Although historical films can showcase great material, make sure you take your students’ ages and maturity into consideration.
Assign Historical Readings
Reading from a textbook can be tiresome and uninteresting. To captivate your students’ attention allow them to select a book on historical fiction. It is often easier to understand the events of the past if there is an interesting plot following it. Your book list can also include biographies and autobiographies.
Treat History as Breaking News
When discussing topics that occurred hundreds of years ago, your students may find historical events irrelevant to today. To encourage your students to take an active interest, treat historical events as if they were happening in the present. Present your history lessons in the form of “breaking news”. For an assignment, have your students pretend to be a journalist an write an article highlighting the “recent event”.
Take A Field Trip
Taking a trip to a historical site can help your students form connections between what they are reading to the actual time or event. Gettysburg, Washington D.C., Williamsburg, and Mount Rushmore are only a few historical sites that showcase some of the greatest historical moments in United States’ history. If there isn’t a major historical site near, try visiting your local history museum.
In history class, we have to remember so many dates and timelines. It can be a bit confusing at times. Seeing a long list of events that you have to remember can be off-putting for students. To make it more fun, try introducing fun mnemonic devices. For example, “My Father Ate Grapes Last Tuesday, Very Awesome Tart Napas“. This is a popular mnemonic to remember the order of secession of the Confederate States of America (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina).