Analyze Create Evaluate History Interactive Whiteboard Language Arts Middle/High School Secondary Elementary Teacher Resources Understand (describe, explain) Websites

BBC-History of the World

What it is:  The BBC is full of fantastic resources for learning.  Recently, I came across the British Museum’s History of the World.  It is WAY cool!  This is like a fantastic virtual museum collection that makes it possible for students to see primary sources up close.  Each piece in the collection adds a little bit to the story of the history of the world.  The objects in the collection each have a quick overview about the piece, and the option of delving in deeper and learning more.  Objects can be filtered by location, theme, culture, size, color, material, contributor and BBC area.  This is a really neat way to view and explore world history.  SO much better than the dry textbook fact collection that I had.

How to integrate BBC History of the World into the classroom: The BBC History of the World collection is a great way for students to explore and engage history.  Being able to go through the objects and primary sources connects them to story and people from another time in a way a textbook just can’t touch.  This is a fantastic place for students to begin an exploration of history; to find an object that “speaks” to them and learn more about the object and the people who created the object.  This site gives students the opportunity to engage history.
Instead of starting a history course chronologically, let students select an object or piece from the collection that interests them.  Let them learn more about the object, the people and the time period that the object was created in.  Let them teach others about the object and its importance.  How was it that this object was so well preserved? What does it tell us about that period?  What stories does it tell?  Give students creative license to do this.  Do they want to make it a creative writing piece where the object is personified? Do they want to write a letter as if they were from that period of time explaining the object?  Do they want to create a mockumentary about the object?  Whatever they do, place the object, along with the others chosen by the class, on a timeline so that students can get a sense for where their object falls in history.  Let the kids teach each other and explain why they chose the object they did.  Not only will kids be exploring world history, they will be learning something about each other.
Write a class story with a common thread.  Create a time traveling team as a class, these are the characters that visit the time period where they find the objects that they have chosen from the BBC History of the world site.  Write the beginning and ending of the story as a whole class.  Each student can be responsible for writing their own “chapter” where the time traveling team visits their time period.
I didn’t enjoy history when I was in school.  It wasn’t ever presented as a story (which I love).  Instead I got a collection of facts, dates and names to memorize for the next test.  I had a really hard time understanding why anyone would be passionate about history.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that history is really just a set of rich stories that we try to piece together to help us understand who we are in place and time.  That I enjoy. That I can get behind.  Help your students discover the story in history!

Tips: At the bottom of the window, you will see a back and forward arrow.  This lets students time travel.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using BBC History of the World in  your classroom!

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  1. I think that here in the UK, when we talk about the BBC, we just look at the news and prime time TV and complain about how they’re not innovative enough, how they take all our money! But we overlook the incredible stuff they do online and on the radio and televisions all over the world… this is really cool!

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