28 Tech Tools to Bring Out the Story in History
Kelly Tenkely | Teaching
When I was in school, I dreaded history. I found it completely uninteresting, dry, irrelevant, and quite frankly…boring. This was unusual for me. Normally, I really enjoyed school. Creative writing, language arts, science, and even math were fun. History was unbearable.
I can count on one hand the things I remember learning in history. I learned that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, that there was once a thing called slavery and it was abolished (I saw Roots in school at least 5 times), that there have been several wars and battles, and I remember my freshman history teacher breaking out in “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” (though I can’t say why). For me history was a lot of dates, strange names, places, and events presented as points on a line. The goal of history was to memorize all of these facts and dates, recite them on a test, and repeat the process the following week. Sadly, that was about it. It wasn’t until adulthood, and my introduction to the History Channel, that I realized that history is interesting. History became engaging when it was presented as a story. It really isn’t about all of the dates, places, and facts. History is about people. History is about story. Students need more than the loosely connected events, people, and dates that fill history textbooks. They need narrative. Textbook writers are boring, history is not. In high school I vividly remember reading a first person account of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the horrors of nuclear war. Why does this account stay with me? Because it wasn’t about the dates. It was about the emotions, the aftermath, the effects on human life.
How can we engage our students with history? How can we help them make personal connections to the events of the past?
Access to history has expanded, students today have learning opportunities that have never been possible before. Today students have the ability to view and read historical documents first hand, ‘interact’ with historical characters, and observe the events of the past through the eyes of the children who lived it. Thanks to technology, students can be truly engaged in the stories of history.
Primary resources are the actual documents, artifacts, and writings from history. These resources give students an up-close view of life in the past.