Picture Sorts

Helping students to categorise and define events and ideas

Students analyse images before putting them in thematic or chronological order.

The teacher provides any number of images for the students to analyse and discuss before putting them in an order, either thematic or chronological. This will help students define key ideas or events of a period or a theme.

When studying crime and punishment students are given 15 images and 15 text boxes. The images range from medieval sorcery to modern computer crimes. Students group the images they feel are connected, they link text and images and finally they discern four main themes for the topic.

For a ready worked example see: https://www.ashmolean.org/learning-resource-medieval-world. There are downloadable images of artefacts and teacher notes about how to use them to explore the medieval world and to think of questions to ensure a good discussion.

Acknowledgements: Richard McFahn, Neil Bates and Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.

Analysing Historical Propaganda Speeches

Helping students to understand how audiences can be manipulated by speeches

In-depth analysis of a propaganda speech in order to identify and be able to spot elsewhere the many ways in which people can be manipulated.

The purpose of the strategy is to take time to look at a speech in two forms, as text and spoken. Close analysis of a longer piece of propaganda (such as a speech) in two forms allows students to focus on exactly how propaganda is used to manipulate an audience. Students identify the methods of manipulation being used and are then equipped to be able to spot these in other similar types of propaganda.

Students read a text and think: what was the purpose of the speech? What content is focused upon? What rhetorical devices are deployed? What is the tone and emphasis of the source?

Class discussion then follows, enabling students to reflect upon their answers and encourage students to identify where facts are presented, distorted, omitted.  The more contextual historical knowledge students have, the more effective this strategy will be.

Students then watch the same speech. This time they make brief notes about the presentation, including body language, tone, emotion and pauses. As a class there is then discussion about how these aspects increase the impact of the propaganda upon the audience.

Students then write a guide for younger students. ‘Be aware! How to make sure you are not manipulated by propaganda in a speech.’

Analysing a Nazi speech: How did Goebbels manipulate his audience in February 1943?

Activity 1: Students will read and evaluate text of the speech ‘Nation, Rise Up, and Let the Storm Break Loose’ by Joseph Goebbels (1943). As they read it they should identify how the propaganda minister used propaganda on his audience. They will want to think: what was the purpose of the speech? What content is he focusing upon? What rhetorical devices does he deploy? What is the tone and emphasis of the source?   In class discussion reflect upon their answers and also encourage students to identify where facts are presented, distorted, omitted.

Activity 2: Watch the 1943 Sportpalast Speech. Ask students to make brief notes about the presentation, including body language, tone, emotion and pauses. Then discuss how these aspects increase the impact of the propaganda upon the audience.

Activity 3: Albert Speer, also a leading Nazi, reported talking with Goebbels afterwards:

“Except for Hitler’s most successful public meetings, I had never seen an audience so effectively roused to fanaticism. Back in his home, Goebbels astonished me by analysing what had seemed to be a purely emotional outburst in terms of its psychological effect — much as an experienced actor might have done. He was also satisfied with his audience that evening. ‘Did you notice? They reacted to the smallest nuance and applauded at just the right moments. It was the politically best-trained audience you can find in Germany.’” Ask students: how far do they agree with Albert Speer’s report about the speech?

Activity 4: Ask students to write a guide for younger students. ‘Be aware! How to make sure you are not manipulated by propaganda in a speech.’

Resources needed: Your students need access to a text copy and a filmed version of the speech.  These are widely available and currently can be located at: http://research.calvin.edu/german-propaganda-archive/goeb36.htm and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhAbZZ3liUI

The context to this activity: 1943: the Turning Point Year. As a background to this lesson students need knowledge about the progress of the WWII from 1939 to 1943. They understand that 1943 is often described as the turning point year.

This long speech by Joseph Goebbels is also his most famous. It was delivered on 18 February 1943 to a large, but carefully selected audience in Berlin. The battle of Stalingrad had ended, and the true seriousness of the war was evident to everyone. Goebbels wanted the speech to build popular enthusiasm for the war, and also to convince Hitler to give him greater powers in running the war economy. Goebbels had used the concluding quotation of the speech (“Now, people rise up, and let the storm break loose!”) in earlier speeches, for example a campaign speech before the Nazi takeover of power on 6 July 1932.

Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J05235 / Schwahn / CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Questioning a photograph

Helping students engage by using a personal approach

Instead of providing the information immediately, a considerable amount of time is spent on developing questions about the photo.

A photo of a person relevant to the topic being studied is carefully scrutinised. The photo does not give away too much – more details may be revealed when discussion is already in progress. Students are asked to think of three good questions that will provide a sufficient amount of information useful for the topic.

When studying crime and punishment, a photo of a child is produced. Nobody is aware of the fact that this is a 12 year old prisoner in England in 1873. Students are asked to think of three good questions about this boy. Their questions are discussed and gradually, the true identity of the boy is revealed. Students’ interest is caught immediately by the power of being able to literally look the boy in the eye and consider the fact that a child could face such a punishment at the time.

Acknowledgements: Jamie Byrom and Michael Riley, The National Archives (.pdf).

Image: Portrait photograph of Pablo Picasso, 1908 (Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais).

Making an Imaginary Map

Helping students to develop their sense of place

Students get pieces of paper with the names of countries. They have to distribute the names across an imaginary map, This could be at their desks, or using the whole of the classroom. This improves and revises their knowledge of geography. Having a sense of place and the distances between places is key to historical understanding. If this is done at desks, then pairs or triads who compare results afterwards.

When teaching about migration this may be a starting activity. The level of difficulty is decided by the places the teacher chooses to include. It may be a good idea to start with 5-7 countries that students know well, adding the less-known afterwards. Examples of where it can be used are to make sure students understand:

  • The location of key allies and neutral countries in 1914,
  • The map of Europe on the eve of World War Two,
  • The locations from which people left for the first Crusade.

Acknowledgements: Richard Kerridge.

How to make things stick: True/false

Helping students to revise historical details

Students recap by only copying statements they believe to be true. A number of statements from last week’s or month’s lessons are put forward by the teacher, on the black board or on pieces of paper that are stuck to the wall. Students copy only the statements they believe to be true, followed by a class discussion where they explain their choice.

When studying the Cold War, these statements can be used and added to:

  1. The Cold War is the name given to the relationship that developed primarily between the USA and the USSR after World War Two.
  2. Among major crises of the Cold War are the Cuban Missile Crisis, Thailand, Hungary and the Berlin Wall.
  3. Many saw the growth in weapons of mass destruction as the most worrying issue.
  4. A clash of very different beliefs and ideology – pacifism versus communism – each held with almost religious conviction, formed the basis of an international power struggle.
  5. America and the Soviet Union ever fought the other during the Cold War but they did ‘fight’ for their beliefs using client states who fought for their beliefs on their behalf.

Acknowledgements: Richard McFahn and Neil Bates.

Image: Nevit Dilmen; CC BY-SA 3.0.