History gives children a richer understanding of their own identity, culture and society. Studying a variety of historical eras and topics encourages pupils to recognise the forces and factors that have shaped our world today.
Giving pupils opportunities to engage with history in an active, critical way, helps them to be able to assess evidence, evaluate conflicting accounts and understand the causes and consequences of change. These skills equip our pupils with the capabilities to be active and engaged members of our society.
The Key Elements provide a way to connect learning in History to Learning for Life and Work.
History contributes more fully to:
- Personal Understanding;
- Cultural Understanding;
- Media Awareness; and
- Ethical Awareness.
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This resource is a rich archive of contemporary media footage of two of the defining events in Northern Ireland’s history: the Partition of Ireland and World War One.
The resource provides a series of lesson plans that encourage pupils to assess and evaluate a range of multimedia evidence from this tumultuous period.
This website provides lesson plans and resources that examine two of the key events of 1916: the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme.
This website is aimed at Key Stages 2 and 3. It looks at the life of Colmcille, life in medieval Ireland and the importance of the monasteries as centres of learning in the middle ages.
This resources aims to ensure that teachers and learners have the tools to learn and reflect on a tumultuous era in our past to inform our future in a positive, inclusive and constructive environment.
Using Podcasts in the History Classroom
This resource helps you to create class podcasts that encourage pupils to engage in historical enquiry while developing their Using ICT and Communication skills.
It also highlights some of the best History podcasts that you could use as resources in your class.
Podcasts and Podcasting in the History Classroom
A podcast is an audio digital file, which is normally part of a series. It is like an episode of a radio programme, however, instead of having to listen to the radio at a particular time to hear it, you can download it onto a smartphone or computer and listen to the podcast at any time.
You can also subscribe to a podcast series, which means that new episodes of the podcast will automatically download onto your computer, smartphone or media device.
You can find podcasts on internet applications such as iTunes or Stitcher. Many broadcasting and cultural institutions feature podcasts on their own websites.
Podcasts have been around since 2003, but their popularity has grown exponentially in the last few years with the most popular attracting millions of listeners. Many History podcasts are available, covering a wide range of topics and periods. They can be a useful supplement to your classroom resources.
One of the reasons for their popularity is that they are relatively easy and cheap to produce and share with the rest of the world. This also means they are an exciting way for pupils to present their work. Making podcasts as part of a History unit of work, helps pupils to engage in historical inquiry, while also developing their skills of Communication and Using ICT. Pupils can then share their podcasts with others, the rest of the school and their families.
This resource gives advice on how your pupils can create podcasts and highlights some of the best History podcasts available.
The ideas for podcasting activities in this resource are generic. You could use them for an investigation of any historical topic. The activities give pupils an opportunity to develop their Using ICT and Communication skills. They also help meet many of the Learning Outcomes as specified in the statutory requirements for Key Stage 3 History as shown below.
The learning outcomes require pupils to demonstrate skills and apply knowledge and understanding of History and its impact on the present.
Pupils should be able to:
- research and manage information effectively to investigate historical issues, using Mathematics and ICT where appropriate;
- show deeper historical understanding by thinking critically and flexibly, solving problems and making informed decisions, using Mathematics and ICT where appropriate;
- demonstrate creativity and initiative when developing ideas and following them through;
- work effectively with others; and
- communicate effectively in oral, visual, written, mathematical and ICT formats, showing clear awareness of audience and purpose.
Best History podcasts
Please review all links to judge their suitability before using them with your class.
RTÉ Radio 1: The History Show This is a podcast of the excellent History Show, which is broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 each Sunday. Each episode looks at a variety of different topics, with an emphasis on events that have recently been in the news. Recent topics covered include:
- Why is there just one rugby team for the island of Ireland?
- The first meeting of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (with interviews with co-founders and others involved)
- The History of Courtship and Dating
Imperial War Museum: Voices of the First World War This podcast has interviews with people who lived through the First World War. One episode has interviews with British and German soldiers who were involved in fighting on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Stuff you missed in history class This American podcast has hundreds of episodes, covering a range of topics and eras. It covers African and Asian History, but mostly aspects of US History. Each podcast lasts about 30 minutes and is packed with information. Pupils may find listening to the show for 10 minutes at a time easier.
The History Hour This is a podcast of the BBC World Service History Hour programme. Each episode contains a look at a few different historical topics and events. A recent episode covered the Russian Revolution, the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and an interview with Lord Dubs, who escaped Czechoslovakia in 1939 on the Kindertransport.
In Our Time In this BBC Radio 4 podcast, Melvyn Bragg and three experts examine a different topic from the world of science, arts and culture or history each week. The programme has been running for years, so there is a rich archive of History episodes. The tone of the podcast can be quite academic, so it may be a good idea to tell pupils to focus on just one part of an episode. Some notable episodes are:
- Mary Queen of Scots
- The California Gold Rush
- Slavery and Empire
- Consequences of the Industrial Revolution
Podcasting activity ideas
The activities described here are generic. You can apply them to any historical topic.
As these activities have a strong Communication element, your pupils may find the following Communication checklists useful before they start an activity:
Pupils are learning to:
- summarise key points and underlying themes from a historical investigation;
- work effectively with others to produce a podcast;
- reflect on their own learning; and
- identify areas where they may need help or support.
This podcast allows pupils to reflect on what they have learned so far, to help to identify the key themes from a unit of study and to think about aspects of the study that they found difficult. This could be a group or individual activity.
During a unit of work, choose a number of points where you will ask your pupils to reflect on the topic. Ask them to record a podcast summarising what they’ve learned so far, what they found particularly interesting and what they’ve found difficult. Select a few of the podcasts to upload to the podcast site or to the school’s website.
Encourage your pupils to return to these podcasts to help them revise the topic at a later point.
Pupils are learning to:
- demonstrate the importance of key events or turning points in a historical study;
- evaluate the role of a particular person in a historical study;
- demonstrate critical thinking by evaluating a range of evidence and appreciating different interpretations;
- work effectively with others to produce a podcast; and
- work effectively with a group.
Ask your pupils to think about the sorts of interviews that take place on sports and news programmes. What type of questions do journalists ask? What sort of information are the journalists looking for?
List some of the different types of questions used during these interviews. Then, tell your pupils that their podcast will be an interview with a particular historical figure around the time of a pivotal historic event, for example:
- Neville Chamberlain after the Munich conference; or
- William the Conqueror before he sails for England.
Your pupils could make this a vox pop style interview with groups of people. This would allow them to capture a range of views on a particular event. For example, you could ask your pupils to interview a range of people in Dublin (local people, someone in the British Army or a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood) immediately after the Easter Rising.
Ask your pupils to form groups to think about the types of questions they want to ask the person or groups of people. Then encourage them to script the answers that interviewees may give.
Ask each group to allocate participants the roles of interviewer and interviewee and record their podcast.
Field Trip Podcast
Pupils are learning to:
- carry out an investigation into a historical site or museum;
- identify how to find information on a particular topic;
- work effectively with a group; and
- reflect on their learning on a visit to a historical site or museum.
If pupils go on a field trip to a local historical site or a museum, ask them to make a podcast as a record of their day. Before they go, ask them to think about what they already know about the site and then, in groups, they can record this information.
Talk about what they would like to find out during the field trip. Would they like to interview anyone, for example museum guides, on the trip? If so, what questions would they ask?
When your pupils have decided the sorts of topics they would like to include in the podcast, divide these topics up between the groups. For example, one group may be in charge of interviews, another may be in charge of describing the geographical location of the site they are visiting, and another would be responsible for describing architectural features of the site.
On the day of the trip, encourage your pupils to use tablets or smartphones to record what they find out. They should also record their own impressions of the historical site or museum.
Back in the classroom, ask the groups to edit their recordings from the field trip with the recording they made before the visit. Encourage them to include additional information at this point, if necessary.
How to Make a Podcast
Planning, recording and editing a podcast may take place over a number of lessons. This may be more suitable as a group rather than an individual activity. Give each member of the group responsibility for co-ordinating different aspects of the podcast, for example planning, recording, presenting, sourcing sound effects or music, editing or producing.
Organising and Planning
Set a maximum length of time for each group’s podcast. This will help your pupils to prioritise the information they want to include. Agree the target audience for the podcast with pupils; this will depend on the type of podcast they are recording.
It is really important that pupils have a good idea what their podcast will cover before they start recording. Ask them to storyboard their podcast, so that they think about the content they want to include and how long each section will last.
Pupils should have a finished script before recording the podcast. At this point, they should identify whether they need any additional music or sound effects.
Recording the Podcast
Most smartphones and tablets now include a built-in sound recorder. Ask your pupils to use these to record sections of their podcast. They can export and send the resulting audio file to a computer for editing.
If you want to add sound recording capabilities to your desktop computer, you will probably need to invest in a microphone. These can cost anything from five to several hundred pounds. There’s no need to invest a lot of money, but it is important to buy a microphone with a USB connection. Most webcams have built-in microphones too.
Your pupils will need a relatively quiet room or area to record their podcast. This doesn’t need to be sound-proofed, but if you record the podcast in the classroom there may be background noise that will make the podcast hard to hear. Alternatively, you could ask your pupils to record sections of their podcast at home.
Editing and Saving your Podcast
Your pupils could record their podcast in one take, but they are more likely to need to record it in several sections and then edit these together. They may also want to add music or jingles to their podcast.
To edit the podcasts, your pupils will need audio editing software. Free options are available including GarageBand (for Mac users) and Audacity (for PCs).
Both programs are easy to use. You can find simple tutorials online. GarageBand contains excerpts of music that your pupils can use on their podcasts. They can also access Creative Commons licensed music on the Audio Network available on C2k.
When they have edited their podcast, make sure your students save their work as an MP3.
Distributing your Podcast
You can simply upload your pupils’ MP3 files to your school website or a Fronter page. If you want people to subscribe to your podcast (automatically receive an alert when a new podcast is available), you will need to upload it to an audio sharing platform such as SoundCloud or AudioBoom.
These sites are free to join. Simply create an account to upload your MP3 files. You can then share the web address of your uploaded audio file with your pupils.
The account settings for SoundCloud and AudioBoom shows information on the RSS feed for your account. This looks like a very long web address. You will need this address if you want to make your podcast available through applications such as iTunes or Stitcher.
You can also add details about your podcast on the RSS Feed page of your account, for example the name of the podcast and the category it belongs in. Copy the RSS feed address, and then in your preferred podcasting platform, follow the instructions to create a new podcast. For more information on submitting your podcast to iTunes or Stitcher, follow the links below:
Then all you need to do is tell your pupils, their families and the wider school community how to find your class’s podcast. Older episodes of the podcasts will remain on the audio sharing platform forever (or until you decide to delete them) – so you can use these as exemplars for pupils making podcasts in subsequent years. Encourage your pupils to return to the podcasts at any time to help them revise the topic.
Digital History Resources
Here are some of the best History resources and websites currently available on the C2k network and online.
Digital History Resources
Equella has many excellent History resources on the C2k network. To find these, log in to My-School, click on Equella then search by the resource titles.
The Cold War Brought to Life
This resource, developed by the London Grid for Learning, has video clips filmed on location at declassified military sites, as well as high-resolution images of locations, personnel, maps and previously classified documents. It also has augmented-reality that gives a 3D insider’s view of a nuclear bunker, interactive maps of nuclear fallout across London and high-altitude jet intercepts.
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement
This series of modules, developed by the Nerve Centre, explores the origin, main events and legacy of the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland. Target audience is Key Stage 3, but it’s also useful for Key Stage 4 revision.
The Conflict in Northern Ireland
This series of lessons, developed by the Nerve Centre, explores Northern Ireland History from the 1960s to the 1980s. It looks at some of the main events that shaped Northern Ireland during the troubles.
Teaching History with 100 Objects: The British Museum This resource has a range of historical objects from museums and galleries across the UK, organised by themes and historical period.
Houses of Parliament Education Parliament’s website contains lots of useful resources and lessons. There is an emphasis on citizenship. There are also History resources on topics such as the Magna Carta, women’s suffrage and the History of representation. This site includes the excellent Houses of History timeline.
National Archives: Education This website has a range of lesson plans for teachers with links to relevant sources on topics such as the Great Fire of London, the English Civil War, the British Empire and immigration in medieval England.
Docs Teach: US National Archive This website has thousands of primary sources relating to key events of US History, from the revolution to the present day. Each area provides suggested teaching activities.
UCLA: National Centre for History in the Schools This page lists primary sources, lesson plans and resources available online for teaching US History. The resources are organised by era.
General History Sites and World History
BBC Bitesize Key Stage 3 History This is one of the most visited History educational sites, and for good reason. It has the widest selection of video clips suitable for Key Stage 3 pupils. The site covers a range of eras and geographical areas.
Khan Academy This website has short recap videos on a variety of topics. It started as a Mathematics and Science website, but has developed a large collection of Arts and Humanities videos, including ancient History and modern world History.
Spartacus Educational This popular website focuses on the people behind the key moments and movements in European and US History. Each biography has primary sources about the historical figure concerned.
Votes For Women This resource is part of the UK Parliament’s Education website It includes videos and lesson plans on the campaign for women’s suffrage in Britain in the 1900s.
Womens’ Rights in 1970s America This resource, from the US National Archives, contains a range of primary sources relating to the women’s movement in the US during the 1970s and the campaign for Equal Rights.
Women’s History Month: Educational Resources This webpage has links to educational resources and websites looking at women’s History (mostly US sources).
This training programme supports a whole-school approach to teaching controversial issues. Curriculum leaders can adapt the training materials and use them as part of their school CPD programme.