Subject Snacks–Ideas for teaching History

pot-noodle-beef-and-tomatoThis weeks idea is similar to a snack that I often forget about, but when I remember, It’s delicious, but perhaps not appreciated as the gastronomic delight that it is. The snack in question is the Pot Noodle . This food technology marvel offers the best in convenience snacking, it is often maligned , once tasted, it’s appreciated.

For me this is a bit like Photosynth, which for some reason I often forget to mention in presentations, and when I do talk about it people are amazed by it. Often there does seem be a slight dilemma. With the perception of it not being cool love a Microsoft web 2.0 product. It’s seen as a guilty pleasure, just like the Pot Noodle.

imagePhotosynth takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around in.  The site is a fantastic resource for students to explore historical sites and monuments, Some great examples are :- Stonehenge in Wiltshire, The Coliseum in Rome, the Great Pyramid at Giza  and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City.

Whilst these images are amazing in themselves. The ability for students to create their own synths makes it an ideal tool for them to document and record historical buildings , sites and artefacts. Not only can they record the places they are visiting, but Photosynth allows archive images to be incorporated with current images, as long as there is  a recognisable feature it will combine them, giving a ‘time travel’ like effect. Once completed synths can be geolacted on to a Bing maps and descriptions added.

A great example of how technology can bring some of the world’s most famous artefacts directly into the classroom is ‘Turning the Pages’, it can be found at the British Library. This allows scanned books to be viewed and explored in very realistic way, by virtually turning the pages. You can also search, magnify, read and listen to the text in original historical masterpieces such Da Vinci’s notebook , Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures Underground and Jane Austen’s History of England. (these links take you directly to the Turning pages browser. Select different artefacts from the menu. The Silverlight plug-in  is required)

imageI spent some time exploring Elizabeth Blackwell’s Curious Herbal , looking for ancient cures for everyday aliments. But, it was whilst exploring the Diaries of Antarctic Explorer, Robert Scott, that I had an almost spine tingling moment. One of Scott’s fellow explorers, Captain Oates, left his colleagues, in an act of self sacrifice, saying the famous line ‘ I just going outside, I may be some time’. I searched for this infamous line and found the actual entry in Scott’s own handwriting, documenting the actual moment of this historical incident. This sort of activity , I think can really bring home to your students the reality of such events. Amazing stuff.

Now it’s over to you, we are not History specialists, how do you bring history alive through technology? We would welcome your ideas of activities that support History teaching and learning. You can email your ideas (using the email blog author link above), or leave us a comment. We will post your contributions next Monday and send you something from the Partners in Learning ‘goodie closet’ to the authors of those we publish**

**UK Teachers only

Comments (1)

  1. Alessio Bernardelli says:

    Hi, I am not a Historian, but I have always had a fascination for timelines, as I think they are a great way to visualize events and link cause and effect. So, my idea to use a great Plug-in for PowerPoint to make your timelines even more engaging, interactive and collaborative. What if you could zoom in and out different parts of your timeline and even have a slideshow for each year, month, or even day on your timeline, without ever losing sight of the whole picture? All this is possible with PPTplext (PowerPoint Plex). Just Bing it, or copy this link on your address bar to download and install the Plug-in…/default.aspx

    So, PPTplex will let you arrange and see all your slides as if they were on a canvas. Then, with your mouse you can go around the canvas and zoom in and out to show the details of a particular period. You need to go to the "Overview" slide and draw the main structure of your timeline. Then, you can add and arrange the slides created in the main presentation to sit in the correct place on the timeline. What's quite amazing in PPTplex is that you can add "live content", e.g. a PowerPoint presentation from a separate file. Yes, you know what I am getting at, don't you? If you have a particular year on your timeline which was packed full of important events you could have a whole presentation associated with that year right on the timeline! And if you, like me, love to get your children involved and let them learn from each other, you could assign a year, or a series of events, to research and produce a PowerPoint presentation on to each group. Then, collect all the presentations from the groups and add them as "live content" in your PPTplex Timeline. This will make a rich content revision tool that your children will love!

    The only limitation on PPTplex is that you lose the animations on your slides, but I think it is a good compromise to get really interactive timelines. Also, your children will concentrate more on the content, rather than on animations and other features that tend to distract them from the real focus of the task!

    If you are a bit confused on how to use PPTplex, don't worry, because there are lots of video tutorials on the download page on how to use it. Otherwise, have a look at my Innovid on PPTplex

    I hope you like the idea and that you will have a go at using this amazing tool in your History lessons. If only I were a History Teacher 😉