Teachers of Elementary and Secondary grades have many barriers standing in their way of making the subjects to be taught important to the students they are teaching. History, for instance, is one of the most difficult subjects to teach students while engaging their interest. Some people may recall reading chapters in a textbook and then answering the questions that followed as their main history lessons. This approach will certainly bore the students, but it also won’t be giving them the high level of education that they deserve. There are several different ways teachers can make this subject more interesting and potentially have more knowledgeable citizens on our world events.
Keep it interactive. Nothing compares to a classroom where the students are constantly moving, talking, or even simply creating something. If there is a way to make the lesson come to life, do it, because once students are engaged in an activity, it won’t necessarily matter what the topic is because they’ll be having fun while they learn. Some ideas include running a debate on an issue that was settled in our past, write letters to governmental figures about a current event issue, or use SKYPE to communicate with people around the world. These few ideas don’t require much more planning than any ordinary lesson, but the outcome is much stronger.
Make connections to the present. If students are only learning about the past and not seeing exactly how it has affected their life today or how things have changed, then more than likely they aren’t going to care. Most students understand that there were some “bad” things that happened in the past and now we live in a better place, but do they understand why? Artifacts are a great way for students to see how times have changed simply by observing material items used in the past versus what we use today. Artifacts are also useful for a unit on the different wars. Many families know someone or are related to someone who was involved in some war, therefore if students can get their grandparents to talk to them about their life back then, it brings the unit closer to home and automatically has meaning for the students.
Finally, do activities. If the class is learning about the United States, bring out a big map of the U.S and play a fact game covering different parts of the continent. If maps are involved in the unit, have students create their own maps of their favorite place. Talk about how they made their map, what they put in it, and what things they decided not to put on their map. Any way to make lessons personal and meaningful will always help brighten the history subject.