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Teaching History Skills and the Use of History Teaching Resources on Historical Sites; An Action Research Project. Dr. Yosanne Vella University of Malta Faculty of Education. Action Research.

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Teaching History Skills and the Use of History Teaching Resources on Historical Sites; An Action Research Project

Dr. Yosanne Vella

University of Malta

Faculty of Education

action research
Action Research
  • This paper describes the various objectives behind an Action Research project which involves developing educational history teaching materials and activities with specific history skills and concepts as learning objectives.
  • Action Research

“a self-reflective spiral of planning, acting, observing, reflecting and re-planning”

Jean McNiff :1988:7

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Initial funding for this project was obtained from the Maltese National Commission for UNESCO together with collaboration from Heritage Malta.
objectives of research project
Objectives of Research Project
  • Teamwork – students working in a group may use their peer’s talk to support their own thinking.

Vygotsky calls ‘verbal thinking’

  • Constructivist Approach

“the belief of the necessity for every human being to put together thoughts, interpretations and explanations that are personal to themselves in making sense of his/her experiences and situations.” (Gatt:2003:2)

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“New History” teaching methods. A method that lays less emphasis on content and more on the process of learning.

A method which is now used in various European countries although its adoption is uneven and sporadic.

the activities
The Activities
  • workbooks/handouts
  • problem solving tasks and open-ended problems for students to solve which require on site research work.
  • on site drama and role play activities where students can re-enact history scenes.
  • craft work activities include model building, artefact making and painting
  • simulation games such as board games based on the general theme of the history site can be played on site.
history thinking skills
History Thinking Skills
  • the skill of empathy
  • the skill ofinterpreting a primary historical source in this case a pre-historic building

The Inquisitor’s Palace

Tarxien Temples

the inquisitor s palace vittoriosa malta
The Inquisitor’s Palace Vittoriosa, Malta

“an architectural gem, representative of the

checkered history and European heritage of the islands”

(Gambin, 2003:3)

activities on site
Activities on site
  • Role Play
  • Board Game
  • Finding Patterns and Shapes
  • Paintings of Figures
  • Coats of Arms
  • Worksheet
activities on site12
Activities on site
  • Role Play
  • Board Game
  • Finding Patterns and Shapes
  • Paintings of Figures
  • Coats of Arms
  • Worksheet
activities on site13
Activities on site
  • Role Play
  • Board Game
  • Finding Patterns and Shapes
  • Paintings of Figures
  • Coats of Arms
  • Worksheet
activities on site14
Activities on site
  • Role Play
  • Board Game
  • Finding Patterns and Shapes
  • Paintings of Figures
  • Coats of Arms
  • Worksheet
activities on site15
Activities on site
  • Role Play
  • Board Game
  • Finding Patterns and Shapes
  • Paintings of Figures
  • Coats of Arms
  • Worksheet
the skill of empathy
The Skill of Empathy
  • One way of getting students to empathise with people who lived long ago is through role-play.
costumes and real historic settings create the right atmosphere to be transported into the past
Costumes and real historic settings create the right atmosphere to be transported into the past.
the tarxien temples
The Tarxien Temples
  • “At the time they were being built, beginning around 3500BC, no one else was raising free-standing buildings in stone anywhere else in the World” (Trump: 2002:69)
learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • become familiar with the basic layout of the site

a two-dimensional perspective - aerial impression of Temple from a

jig-saw they have to construct

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a three-dimensional perspective –

after experiencing the Temple first hand they also have to reconstruct it by putting together a model of the site.

interpreting a primary historical source a pre historic building tarxien temples
Interpreting a Primary Historical Source; a pre-historic building -Tarxien Temples

Pupils are taken to different areas outside the Temple

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The tasks of the workbook which students have to fill in as they go round are aimed at

helping students to interpret what they are seeing, with strong emphasis on the possibility of various valid interpretrations.

conclusion
Conclusion
  • This project in my opinion reconfirmed the effectiveness of the basic principles behind "New History" as a teaching approach.
  • Work on the sites is not enough to produce the kind of intense history teaching advocated by Christine Counsell, children need as she says:
counsell 2004
Counsell (2004)

“all kinds of structures to think at a high level: text one minute, picture the next, activity one minute, listening the next, open-ended questioning then, and for how long? Revisit the Text? Introduce a new activity? What is the best way to do this? Teachers need time to learn to teach in ways that are challenging and pupils need careful training if they are to get used to the idea that the history lesson is a place where you learn to tolerate uncertainty.”

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The preparation and follow up activities are crucial to further create understanding, also as this on-going research project progresses it is becoming evident that it is a complex process that involves besides pedagogical concerns various other factors such as time management, sequence and chronology of activities as well as vocabulary usage.
for more information
For more information:
  • a. Vella, Yosanne (2005)“Creating on site history activities for school children; an action research project” Journal of Maltese Educational Research Vol:3 N02 2005 1-x www.educ.um.edu.mt/jmer
  • b. Vella, Yosanne (in print) “Using History Skills and Concepts to teach Citizenship” in Global Citizenship: Challenges for Social and Economics Education to be published by International Association for Citizenship, Social & Economics Association
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