History Skills Blog


The dangers of ignoring the humanities: What happens when students don't choose them in high school

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How have other cultures measured time?

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AD/BC and CE/BCE are not the only ways to count years

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7 tips to improve your academic writing

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The difference between opinion and perspective

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What is the difference between 'opinion' and 'perspective' in historical sources?

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The difference between explicit and implicit information in sources

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Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/middle-ages-poet-writing-ancient-4938310/

Students often find that understanding the difference between ‘explicit’ and ‘implicit’ information in historical sources to be difficult.  

 

I think that most of the confusion arises from the fact that the words ‘explicit’ and ‘implicit’ sound similar. However, it needn’t be a struggle, as the difference is very easy to learn.

 

In this blog post, I will step you through the two different concepts and provide you with some clear examples to help clarify any lingering confusion. 

 

But first, let’s look at why historical sources contain implicit and explicit information in the first place. 

 

Watch a video explanation:


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The difference between ‘history’ and ‘the past’

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What is the difference between usefulness and reliability?

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How to answer a “to what degree/extent” essay question

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The problem of ‘perspective’ in the History classroom: we cannot seem to agree on what it means

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Both students and teachers are confused about ‘perspective’

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After one week of remote teaching, these are the things I’ve learned

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The crazy world of “Covid-ucation”

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I taught students to read hieroglyphs and they loved it

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Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/hieroglyphics-characters-golden-484697/

Teaching codebreaking, problem solving, and teamwork

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Why don’t you start history research with a hypothesis?

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A solution to student frustrations with history research tasks

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Most History teachers struggle to teach centuries correctly

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Most History teachers struggle to teach centuries correctly and we must work together to fix it

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IOP CAM - A Handy Acronym for Source Analysis

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It has never been easier, nor more important, to study history than right now

Sculpture of Theodore Mommsen. Used under CC0. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/sculpture-theodor-mommsen-historian-2036188/
Sculpture of Theodore Mommsen. Used under CC0. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/sculpture-theodor-mommsen-historian-2036188/
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Historically Inaccurate Things that Made Me Love History as a Child

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What's the Difference Between Perspective and Bias?

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Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/knight-middle-ages-tournament-1506878/

One of the most common mistakes made by students when analysing sources is to confuse ‘perspective’ and ‘bias’. While the two analysis skills are related, they are very different. This article will, hopefully, make the distinction between the two clear so that students will never again confuse the two.

 

The Short Answer

Perspective is the point of view that a person sees a historical event from, while bias is when a source is clearly one-sided in its description of the event.

 

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Every source has a perspective, but not every source has clear bias. 
  2. You can determine a source's perspective by doing background research on the source creator.
  3. To determine a source's bias, you need to find specific words in the source that are either extremely positive or extremely negative.

Hopefully that makes it nice and simple. However, if you would like to understand the difference more clearly, here is a longer explanation to help:

 


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No Pens, No Paper, No Problems: The Fully Digitised Classroom

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It has now been twenty years since I graduated high school and it is amazing how different the world of education has become. I remember relying solely on pens, lined exercise books and class texts. That was all. Computers were still new and there was only one in my classroom, which nobody knew how to use.

 

How things have changed. While pens and books still exist in classrooms, most of my students now depend on their laptops to complete class and assignment work. This change is a reflection of similar changes in the workforce. It is a rare company that asks employees to complete tasks by writing on paper. Most jobs use computers. 

 

Over the last nine years as an educator, I have been proactively seeking to modernise my own teaching practice to reflect the world that my students will be entering. As of this year, I can finally say, that I have managed to fully digitise my classroom.

 

As a result, I now no longer need pens, paper, whiteboard or markers, printed worksheets or lined paper. What is most interesting is that my students haven't even noticed. Their world is so fundamentally based on technology that it is 'normal' to them. 

 

How did I do it?

I wanted to find ways of doing the same kinds of tasks I traditionally did in the classroom but electronically. I wasn't simply looking to replicate the same experience: I was more keen to discover what else could be achieved through the adoption of digital alternatives.

 

I have found a whole range of programs that do exactly what my old resources did, while providing improved functionality. The digital solutions I found also provided a whole world of new experiences and opportunities that were impossible under traditional teaching styles.

 

The best thing is that all of the solutions I found are absolutely and completely free

 

In the following list, I compare what I used to use in the ‘old system’ with what I have found works best in the digital environment.

 


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A Guide to Teaching Essay Structure

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Prevent students from 'telling a story' in their essays by helping them understand how arguments work

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The Best Advice I Received as a New Teacher

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Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/classroom-students-school-class-15593/

Let's be honest: being a teacher is one of the best jobs in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most stressful and exhausting jobs. I am about to begin my ninth year as an educator and, despite all I have learnt about the profession during that time, the experience of my first year is still fresh in my memory.

 

I remember the adrenaline-induced panic I felt at the beginning of each new class, desperately hoping that the next lesson would go well. I also remember spending many hours every night planning, organising and creating lessons for the next day. Finally, I remember agonising over the behavioural challenges I faced from a small number of students and my own sense of failure at being unable to find solutions.

 

As I have come to learn, my experiences are very normal. New teachers always find that the learning curve of their first year is steeper than they ever expected and many people feel like they never truly get their 'head above water'. Unfortunately, many new teachers feel like they cannot admit how hard they're finding it, in case others think that they're not 'cut out' to be a teacher.

 

If you're a new teacher, please know that you're not alone. Your first twelve months will be a chaotic whirlwind in which you will be constantly learning new things. Everyone feels overwhelmed at many stages during their first year of teaching.

 

However, it doesn't mean others cannot help you. In this blog post, I wanted to share some of the best advice that I received in my own first year of teaching. These are the things that made a real difference to my success as a new teacher.

 


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Awesome Free Windows Apps for Every Educator

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Over this time, I have collected a list of awesome apps which I use on a regular, almost daily, basis. Each of them has helped to streamline my teaching and has opened up new ways to engage students with my lessons.

 

If you’re looking at digitising your own classroom, I hope that these help you as well.

 

As a teacher who enjoys finding new ways to integrate technology in the classroom, I would love to share some of my favourite digital tools with you.

 

I have been using Windows devices, particularly Microsoft Surfaces for all of the eight years I have been teaching (and I have written about why this is the case before in this blog post).

 

All of the following apps are completely free to download and use for anyone with a Windows device:

 


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What’s the Difference Between Source Analysis and Evaluation?

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When using historical sources in class, both teachers and students know that they need to ‘analyse and evaluate’ them. But what do these two words mean? What is the difference between ‘analysis’ and ‘evaluation’?

 

The short answer

The key difference is that analysis requires you to understand the historical context that contributed to the creation of a source, while evaluation requires you to make a personal decision about how valuable the source is to your particular historical topic.

 

As you can see, analysis requires you to do some background research (usually via the internet) to discover who made the source, when it was made, etc., while evaluation requires you to reach a conclusion about whether the source is reliable, useful, etc.

 

Understanding the difference between these two skills is crucial because one relies on the other: in order to successfully evaluate a source, you need to base your decision upon what you found in your analysis. Therefore, you need to analyse a source before you can evaluate it.

 

If you have time for the longer answer, here it is:

 


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A Teacher's Experience with the Surface Go

For the last three years, I have been lucky enough to have been awarded as a Microsoft Innovative Education Expert (otherwise known as a MIEE).

 

This means that I get to hear about Microsoft’s latest education initiatives and give feedback to the company from a teacher’s perspective. It is an incredibly valuable experience, one that is open to all educators.

 

So, when I heard about the release of the new Surface Go, I was very keen to find out more about the device, particularly how it could be used in an educational context.

 

Thankfully, Microsoft was generous enough to give me a demo Surface Go for seven days in order to get a feel for its capabilities.

 

As the end of my seven-day trial period approaches, I thought I would put together my thoughts for others who are interested, particular teachers, parents and students who are looking at a device for school.

 

Please be aware that this is not meant to be a full product review (providing things like battery life, system specs, etc.), as there have been many of those provided already.

 

This is just a teacher’s experience of the device as an end user.

 


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A Day in the Life of a History Teacher

 

As a History teacher, I believe I have one of the best jobs in the world. Every day I get to share my passion for the past with hundreds of students and I never grow tired of seeing people become fascinated with all of the crazy and impressive things that humans have done over thousands of years.

 

But what is it like to be a History teacher? What does a typical day look like?

 

If you’ve ever considered becoming an educator and were curious about what a career in teaching was like, or if you're simply curious, then I thought I would share some answers to those questions above.

 


From the Colosseum to the Cuban Missile Crisis

When you teach History for a living, you are expected to know an incredibly wide range of historical information.

 

It is common to walk into the first class for the day and teach the intricacies of ancient Egyptian mummification, and then an hour later, walk into a different class and explain the complex political causes the led to the outbreak of the First World War.

 

Then, an hour after that, a whole new class needs to learn about how the Nazi regime could have justified the horrors of the Holocaust.

 

By the end of a single day, I have covered topics from over five thousand years of History, which result in both wide-eyed excitement and disbelieving horror from my students.

 

It is this amazing variety of topics that makes History a great subject to teach. You can never exhaust the things that you can talk about from the past and, no matter how much content you cover, you always feel like you’ve only scratched the surface of history.

 


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Two Days with Microsoft Education

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Why Bother Studying History?

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Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/Siege-alesia-vercingetorix-jules-cesar.jpg

As a History teacher, it will come as no surprise that I think that studying the past is one of the most enjoyable things we can do. However, I frequently get asked by students, teachers and even my own friends why someone would invest so much time in people and events that haven’t existed for a very long time.

 

I thought I would summarise my typical answers to these people in today’s blog post.

 

What is 'History'?

Firstly, it might be worth my time stipulating what I mean by ‘history’. History, as a subject, looks at people, societies, places and events that existed before the time when we were born. This could be things in the recent past, such as the lives of our own parents, or it could be things in the distant past, like the building of the Egyptian pyramids. Therefore, history is a vast subject, covering thousands of years, spanning the entire globe, and the lives of billions of people. So, why would you bother learning about these things?

 

1. Become Culturally Appreciative

Let me start with a practical reason: studying the past makes you far more empathetic towards people and cultures that differ from your own. All people tend to think that the culture that they grew up with is ‘normal’ and that all other cultures should be judged in comparison to it. This kind of thinking results in people who struggle to tolerate the vastly different cultures they encounter when they travel the modern world.

 


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A Global Museum

How Flipboard can help bring a world of ancient wonders to classrooms half a world away

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Constructive (Source) Criticism

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Do you feel like you should be doing more source criticism in your History lessons but not sure how? It can be surprisingly simple to do!

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Letting Students ‘Choose Their Own Lesson’

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What if you gave students the choice of how to learn? What if you gave them options for how to complete a lesson?

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Microsoft Surface Vs Apple iPad in High School Classrooms

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