(Please bear in mind that websites sometimes change addresses or disappear).
I have tried to select 10 sites which show the range of ways in which the internet can be helpful. Sometimes it is to access resources, sometimes it is as a ‘portal’ or gateway site, sometimes because it gives access to something quite specific which might make for a small contributory component of a lesson, or it might point to the potential of an area of ICT that has not been fully explored yet.
1. The Paperboy http://thepaperboy.com
A gateway site to newspapers (not just British). Now that most newspapers archive their material, it is possible to get hold of articles from past issues. This can be good for getting hold of particularly important and influential articles, but also for getting a range of sources on controversial issues (for instance, seeing how different British newspapers repsonded to a recent controversy over race and national identity. These resources also make an important point about the fact that so many of today’s issues and problems have a history to them- using these resources helps to confirm the importance and relevance of history.
2. The World’s smallest political quiz http://www.self-gov.org/quiz.html
Helpful for developing/introducing aspects of political literacy, and also issues of the reliability/integrity of such materials- after doing the quiz, it can be helpful to point out that it is put together by the Libertarian Society. It also demonstrates an interesting facet of ‘interactivity’.
3. Trails, on the BBC’s History site http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/
Very helpful for developing your subject knowledge; a renowned historian, summing up the importance of Laisser-Faire, or providing a helpful summary of the ways in which census information can be put over to learners.
4. Wikis in plain English http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY
There are several You Tube videos in the ‘in plain English’ stable, including ones on blogs, social bookmarking and so on. They are only a fw minutes long and provide a clear and simple introduction on wikis, blogs etc, and instructions for where to go to get going on them and trying them out for yourself
5. “Thinking History” www.thinkinghistory.co.uk
One of the best sites in the world for providing high quality, rigorous and purposeful active learning strategies and classroom activities for developing pupils’ historical knowledge and understanding. You have to have the patience to read carefully through the instructions and work out how the activity is designed to work in classroom practice. All the resources required to do the activity are provided and just need printing out. Really useful for providing you with a lesson component which requires pupils to be actively involved and to “do stuff” in a way that makes them THINK about the historical concepts, topics and issues involved.
6. Podcasts http://historicalpodcasts.googlepages.com/
If you are interested in podcasts, this URL links to an excellent gateway site which can give you some idea about what can be done with history podcasts. Amongst other things the site demonstrates that podcasts can be stunningly boring (might be used as a punishment for badly behaved pupils?) or pretty interesting. Some history podcasts and podcasters have acquired a cult following. There is (if it is still there) an interesting podcast on the Downing St website which features Simon Schama interviewing Tony Blair on his views about history.
7. Schoolshistory http://www.schoolshistory.org.uk
Has links to good departmental websites, so you can think about what a good departmental website would offer, plus an interesting range of ‘interactive lessons’ and lessons for able pupils. (Schoolhistory is another interesting site: http://schoolhistory.co.uk)
Some history departments have got fantastic websites. The one above is Richard Jones’ site. Have a look at the depth of the site, and the ways in which ICT is used to improve teaching and learning in history – think about how enjoyable and interesting many of the activities are compared to ‘reading round the class’; ‘doing a worksheet’, ‘working from the text book’.
9. History Today: advice for A level students http://www.historytoday.com/students
This link provides guidance for A level students on essay technique, note taking, revision, the appropriate use of historiography in essays etc.
10. Crisis at Fort Sumter http://www.tulane.edu/~latner/CrisisMain.html
Another big American site- I know it’s not on a N/C topic, but it shows how the Americans are getting beyond “quiz” levels of interactivity.
11. History Resource Cupboard http://www.historyresourcecupboard.co.uk
Richard McFahn’s site; a brilliant history teacher who has made a lot of good ideas for active learning available, some free, others available to buy at very low cost (a few pounds). Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit to get an outstanding lesson or set of lessons because it can save you a lot of time – someone else has put hours of work into building up a powerful collection of resources on a particular topic and shaping it into a really good enquiry question.
For use mainly with older (A level?) pupils. Historians provide historical perspectives on current issues, problems and concerns. Makes an important point about the idea of “historical perspectives”; is there any issue/problem/question into which we cannot gain more insight and understanding by looking at what has gone before? See also the “History Now/Backgrounder” section of the BBC History Magazine, which does the same thing.