Rewriting history

11th March 2005 at 00:00
Becky Hewitt browses an exciting website for primary historians and budding journalists

Headline History is an exciting and inspirational website which uses the newspaper format to explore various source materials. Each of the four eras covered has its own virtual newspaper title, The Roman Times, The Tudor Times, The Victorian Times and The War Times. The idea is that pupils become reporters on these newspapers. They can read and talk about the newspaper stories and then interview up to 30 characters per era (through video playback) who have witnessed the events making up the six front page lead stories.

The pupils then add quotes from these witnesses to the front page story to create their own version that they can then save or print out. The witness accounts are well acted and interesting to watch, and the site provides a virtual note pad on which the journalists can make notes for their story.

Richard Gerver, headteacher of Grange Primary School, Long Eaton, Derbyshire, found the site to be an invaluable resource when teaching key stage 2 the topics of the Victorians and the Tudors. He thought it was very well devised and the pupils were able to interact with the website with a minimal amount of teacher input. "The children were able to access the content themselves quickly which is very important in a classroom situation," he says.

This is in no small part due to the innovative approach to differentiation.

At the beginning of the process the children can choose the red, yellow or green option depending on their ability level. This controls the amount of guidance given by the animated editor, and the amount of notes provided on the pad for each budding journalist.

Richard thought this worked extremely well and the pupils were unaware of what the different colours meant so they didn't feel embarrassed to use an easier option. Richard was also very impressed with the range of ICT skills pupils used when accessing the source materials. "I found the most powerful aspect of this site to be how it pushed ICT skills across the curriculum," he explains.

Headline History is a superb resource which will be of great value to those teaching KS2 history. It is so well structured and accessible that even non-specialists will feel confident they can teach exciting and differentiated history using exciting source material. Young historians and budding journalists alike will be enthused and inspired.

Becky Hewlitt teaches history at Perryfields High School, Oldbury, West Midlands

* The Headline History interactive website is aimed at key stages 2 and 3 and is produced by Northcliffe Electronic Publishing, and was created for DfCMS Culture Online. Access is free.

Headline History Stand A778

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