Sunday 31 August 2008

Romans in the New Term

The new school term is nearly upon us and it is probably time to start thinking about education again! During the summer holiday I have been planning a new scheme of work on the 'Romans in Britain'. This scheme of work will be the first unit that the year 8's will study in History when they get back to school on 10th September. I am really excited about this scheme of work and I hope the year 8's will really enjoy it too!

If you are in year 8 and want to get a head start on your knowledge of the Romans, why not try out some interactive quizzes? They are lots of fun and are very effective when you are learning a new subject or revising a subject previously studied. Those of you I teach will know that I like to use these interactive quizzes at the end of each topic because they are such a good learning tool.

See you in September and have fun going histatic about the Romans!

Thursday 28 August 2008

A Giant of a Find...

A massive historical find has been made by archaeologists in southern Turkey. The use of the word 'massive' you may think refers to something of historical importance, however, I use the word in the literal sense! Archaeologists have unearthed parts of a 15ft statue of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The giant find has been made in the ruins of Roman baths in what was once the city of Sagalossos, in Turkey.
Many of you will know of Emperor Aurelius from the Oscar-winning epic 'Gladiator', played by the late Richard Harris. To Historians, however, Aurelius was a very clever ruler who oversaw a period of peace and prosperity up until his death in 180AD.

To read more about this find click here.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Bringing WWII to life through ICT...

As it is getting ever closer to the start of the 08/09 academic year, I thought that I had better start blogging about things that my students will be able to use in their historical education.

I thought I would start with one of my favourite subjects-the Second World War! This topic is studied in Year 9, along with WWI and Black Civil Rights.

For those students who like to do their own research on the topics they study at school, you will not go far wrong when using the National Archives Learning Curve website. In particular, I am impressed with the World War II exhibition on the website, which brings learning about WWII to life by incorporating animated maps, hundreds of photographs, film clips, sound files and documents into twenty investigations that take you through all aspects of the war.

For those of you who want to improve your historical skills and experience a very interesting period of History at the same time, the WWII exhibition is definitely for you.

Monday 18 August 2008

Using Historical Evidence to Solve Modern Mystery...

I have just come across a really good multi-episode interactive game on BBC History called CDX. The premise of the game is that you, playing as BBC film maker Adam, have to find the missing blade that was used to kill Julius Caesar. The blade came to be in Adam's possession while he was making a documentary about Rome, but due to a motorbike accident that has left Adam with amnesia, he can not remember what has happened to the blade.

To unlock the mystery of the blade you have to uncover and use historical and archaeological evidence and research Roman history. Adam is equipped with books, the Internet, knowledgeable contacts and a phone so that all of the historical research that needs to be done is part of the game itself.

The story is rather an exciting one as it centers around a conspiracy theory and murder, this, coupled with the fact that you are using real historical evidence to help you during the game, makes this game a very exciting one indeed!

Being as the game has four episodes it does take quite a while to complete, I have been playing now for 2 hours and I'm still only on episode 2! However, when you sign up to the game you are given a unique code that lets you sign into the game and continue your progress if you do not have the time to solve the mystery in one day!

This game is very addictive and will take you on an adventure that you could not better unless you were Robert Langdon himself! The game can be found here... Enjoy!

Friday 15 August 2008

War Tunnels Definitely Worth a Visit.

I have already mentioned about my recent visit to Jersey and the book I purchased while I was there. Now I would like to tell you all about one of the many things I enjoyed about Jersey during my visit.
Before my trip to Jersey took place I knew that I wanted to visit the 'Jersey War Tunnels', otherwise known as 'Hohlgangsanlage 8. German Underground Hospital', because I had been told how good it was by two friends who had visited Jersey earlier in the year. My friends told me that before you go into the tunnels you are given an Identity Card of a person that lived in occupied Jersey, and at the end you discover the story about your person and whether they lived or died. I was, of course, very excited about this as the stories of individuals are what really make History the most interesting subject!

The war tunnels, which were set to be an underground hospital built by the occupying Germans during the Second World War but were never used for this purpose, play host to a permanent exhibit called 'Captive Island'. This exhibit details the story of Jersey and of its people between the years 1940 and 1945, the years that Jersey was occupied by the Germans.

The exhibit details every part of the occupation and has many artefacts on show that further enrich the experience of discovering how life was under Nazi rule.

As you make the journey through the underground tunnels there is much to see, do, and read, which makes the exhibit well worth the £10 you pay to see it.

The story of the occupation is an extremely interesting one and in some parts it can be rather amusing, for example, one of the first things the Germans did on July 1st 1940, when they landed on the island, was order that all clocks were to be put forward an hour in keeping with Central European Time. This act caused much confusion the next day when when the islanders forgot! However, much of the story about the occupied island was heartbreaking in the fact that most the people's civil liberties were taken from them by the Nazis. A curfew was placed on the islanders, there was a ban on the sale spirits, all wirelesses had to be handed in, and all British-born islanders were deported to Germany.

Occupied Jersey also saw some organised resistance in the form of the V-for-Victory campaign that began in 1941. This campaign was encouraged by the BBC and saw islanders painting the V-for-British-Victory signs on doors, gateposts, and walls. Some people even built their own wirelesses in order to listen to the British news for updates on how the Allies were doing. These illicit wirelesses were crystal radios or 'cat's whisker' sets. The punishment for being caught taking part in any form of resistance was harsh with people being sent to 'work education' camps in Germany where many people died.

This exhibit is well worth a visit, so next time you're in Jersey make sure you check it out!

Thursday 14 August 2008

The Biggest Waste of £10...

Whilst on a recent visit to Jersey I felt the urge to go into Waterstones and buy a few History books. As I was checking out the British History shelf one book in particular caught my eye. It was a small hardback book with a very attractive spine, and I must say I am one of those people who is attracted to a book if it has a nice cover, and so I picked it up. The book in question is by Steven A. Grasse and is called 'The Evil Empire-101 ways that England Ruined the World'.

Now I'm am not one of those single minded British folk who mourn the loss of our 'great' empire, but I was dubious about this book because I knew right from the start that it would just be an excuse to trample on the English, after all it is called 101 ways that England ruined the world. However, I thought I would give this book the benefit of the doubt as it did look quite interesting, and so paid the £10 that it cost (I also bought two other books so the total cost that visit to Waterstones was over £40).

The book, as I mentioned earlier, is written by Steven A. Grasse who is an American business man who has apparently done everything, including directing films, apart from climb Mount Everest. Grasse starts off by declaring that he wants to "love all of the United Kingdom" but can not because he has become sick of the British telling him that "America is responsible for ruining the World". Fair enough. So Grasse has taken it upon himself to write how it is England not America who is responsible for ruining the World.

Overall, this book was quite amusing, in places, and rather annoying in others. As a typical American Grasse talks about how the English have really bad teeth, and that at 5 o'clock everyday without fail we take to our parlours and drink tea and eat cakes until we toddle off to bed. This was expected given the nature of the book. However, one thing that really gets my goat is people confusing 'England' with 'Britain' thinking that both words mean the same thing, and this is exactly what Grasse does all the way through his book, even though in a chapter called 'Their Country has too many Flags and too Many Names' he acknowledges that these two words get used "as though they were...synonymous", and yet carries on doing it himself.

After 101 tedious chapters of Grasse going through the ways that England has 'ruined' the world he asks the reader to sign a petition that declares Britain should pay £31,960,000,000,000 to the world in reparations for all the wrong doings that have been committed, and the final page of the book has even been given over to an invoice detailing where Britain owes this sum. I will not be signing this petition and frankly I would like to make my own invoice for £10 and send it to Mr. Steven A. Grasse and claim back what I paid for his pointless book!

Verdict: Read this book if there is literally no other book available to read.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

The Problems of Making Beer in a Flat World...

I have just seen the new advertising campaign for Stella Artois and it has inspired me to finally start my own blog about history and all things historical!

The advert highlights the problems brewers had in 1366, due to Medieval beliefs, when finding the perfect ingredients to make beer. The advert can be seen here. The advert goes on to encourage viewers to take the challenge of becoming brewers of the 14th century and find the ingredients for beer. I have played this game and it is good, albeit a little hard to fathom at first, and it incorporates some good history, which, in my book, makes it Histatic! To find the game use the same link as above. Enjoy!