History – Document, Source and Picture Question

Documents, source and picture questions are a key part of any History class and exam. With the mocks right around the corner it is good to remember how to look at a picture in a historical sense.

Study the pictures carefully:  

Don’t just glance at them. Have a look at what they are, and look at the details, you might be asked a question about one of them.

Read the questions carefully:

If you’re asked to give two pieces of information, don’t just give one. If you’re asked to give one piece of information, don’t waste your time giving more.

The Picture Questions are worth 15 marks altogether. They can be an easy source for marks, but you must not spend too much time on them. Other parts of the paper carry much more marks with them. You should spend only about 10 minutes on the Picture Question.

  • Primary/ Secondary Source
  • Biased
  • Prejudiced
  • What event is it referring to?
  • What’s happening in the background?
  • Who is in the picture

A few examples which you can use to sharpen the students and it should help with revision with the Cold War Topic.

In this British cartoon from 1948, Stalin watches as the storks fly coal and food into Berlin, but he dares not shoot them down.





Friendship is an important and valuable thing that is key in any school. In school students make many friends over the years.

At current parent teacher meetings there is always the questioned asked and is she settling in with her friends? Does she sit with her friends? Humans are social creatures and it’s important to remember that there is the other side to school beside grades. Though they are the focus of learning students are social human beings.

One such example was the recent news article on Primary School Headmasters sending out a letter accompanying primary school results to reassure students that there are other Primary school things in life you can be good at besides exam results.

However, if the media is reporting on primary schools being stressed we should spare a thought for secondary school students who are under tremendous amounts of stress. One such article I have come across recently was a report done by the Nuffield Foundation. Comparing how society has changed over the past forty years and how their is an increasingly demand and pressure to do well in education due to the simple fact that more people are employed based on their education results is raising the stress levels for students.

In light, of these increasing pressures and stress on students it’s important to allow them to have a social aspect in schools which can help them cope through the stress of schools.

A few ideas for schools which can be done to help students cope with the pressures they are under.

Healthy Eating

Promoting Healthy Eating in the school is always a good way to keep students healthy and happy. Have healthy options in the school – have fresh fruit in the school shop, have bottles of water, have water dispensers, discourage the selling of sweets. One example I saw recently was having tea and hot chocolate in the school. Though it may seem like an odd choice to have in a school a lot of students I observed opted for tea and hot chocolate to keep warm and motivated during school hours. Also, after chatting to a few students over it they said they much prefer tea and hot chocolate over fizzy drinks anyway.



Exercise is important in students lives and having P.E. classes keeps students fit and active. Even looking at the recent BT Young Scientists Winners this year we can see students are having a mental and positive effect from exercising – if not physically but mentally.

Another example is a Dublin school holding early morning raves to wake up students and promote active school week.

Random acts of kindness



Having the students do small random act of kindness promotes well-being and positive atmosphere throughout the school .




Web 2.0 – History Hub



Another great history resource is History Hub.

History Hub is a great resource for senior cycle history and even an undergraduate standards.

It has excellent resources for Junior and Leaving Certificate history and with the 1916 Rising coming up listening to Podcasts is an excellent way to engage students in the classroom and get them motivated in helping commemorate 1916.

Additionally, one feature of History Hub which I enjoyed is their From the Archives section of their website. More and more it’s noticeable that students are losing out on engaging with primary and secondary sources as we are teaching for an exam. Though true it’s great to be able to use primary sources from archives whereas possible.

(Images of the 1916 Rising aftermath)

Additionally,for T.Y. and senior cycle history students can use the website to get ideas for Research projects and topics.

Another simple fact about History Hub which makes it worth checking out is it’s updated regularly and they have a mailing list which you can subscribe to. I found this idea appealing as I sometimes forget what website I saw a great resource on but if I’m on their mailing list a quick search of emails usually turns up what I was looking for.



A web 2.0 tool that is frequently used by many educators is Twitter!

twitter education

Inspired by the recent assignment to look at communication in regards to the key skills being rolled out the new junior cycle I have realised I have not communicated via blog how great a resource #edchatie is for teachers. Though I have blogged about twitter quite a bit – I feel I may have overlooked giving you a detailed insight to #edchatie which is held each monday night between 8.30-9.30pm on twitter.



It was set up by Fred Boss  (@fboss ) of the NCTE (National Centre for Technology in Education). Each week @fboss uploads a poll open to suggestions of questions and topics that could be discussed vai the micro-blogging platform twitter each Monday night between 8.30-9.30pm. People are free to vote which one should be discussed. Once the poll has closed the topic and questions are tweeted out to the masses.

Each person is encouraged to use the #edchatie when discussing the chosen topic or question.

For example a recent topic which was discussed:”Teaching with teachers not open to technology”. This was a great discussion and promoted many views from all sides of the discussion.

what if I told you.jpg

Unfortunately, due to the huge volume of responses I was not able to read ever tweet and response on twitter – even when using twitterdeck! (web 2.0 tool I highly recommended if into twitter, or even beginning to use twitter)

cat mad.jpg

Instead of being disappointed – I was able to download the whole discussion via a transcript a few hours later on the edchatie website. (http://edchatie.pbworks.com/w/page/37159466/edchatIE%20Summaries)

little things.jpg

#edchatie is one of the best discussion to join into if you are a teacher (even more so if you are teaching in Ireland). It connects you with hundreds of other teachers in similar situations and you can share tips or problems you have – which can be resolved in a matter of minutes in some cases!

connected twitter.jpg

How do you sign up for #edchatie or even how do you promote the use of #edchatie in your staffroom? I found this poster via the semoraranga website (all credit to @seomraranga) which is clear and easy to understand.  edchatie_poster

Hope to see you all there tomorrow night!





New Religious Movements

Currently, looking into New Religious Movements with a senior cycle class.

The New Religious Movement which we are currently focusing on is the Unification Church which are also nicknamed the Moonies by many due to their founders Sun Kung Moon name.

A good introduction documentary which isn’t a biased and able to give an insight into the new religious movement can be found below – and works in school!


Powerpoint on New Religious Movements: NRMs powerpoint



Christmas Music

Christmas Music

Many schools are beginning to prepare their Christmas Carols.

If you’re starting to prepare and unsure of what could be used here a few suggestions you may find helpful.


If you have students who are interested in pitch perfect – maybe try and encourage them to do a Christmas acapella version of Christmas classics!

Additionally, this modern twist may attract some shy singers who don’t want the limelight. Also, it will spice up the usual Christmas Carol and give an interesting twist to those Christmas Concerts and Masses.


Funny mistakes


On the topic of mistakes – here are some funny answers students have given when they did not know the answers to questions. All credit goes to https://goo.gl/MfBvgR. (Askreddit)

I taught history and showed a video clip of Ronald Reagan’s famous “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” In a later quiz I asked students to write down this quote with my favorite response starting “Mr. Gooberchuck…”

I had a student who would write things like “I don’t remember this, I’m sorry, but I drew you a picture of a dog instead”. Or “please don’t think that my wrong answer on this question means you’re a bad teacher, you’re awesome but I didn’t study”.

When my wife and I were TA’s in grad school, we proctored and then graded an essay exam. We had a student write, “I don’t know, so here’s a picture of a puppy”. He then drew a beautiful picture of a puppy, it took him nearly an hour to complete it. To this day when I ask my wife a question and she doesn’t know the answer, she just says, “puppy”.

In high school I was in a biology class with a buddy of mine. The class and the teacher were a complete joke and no one took it seriously. On an exam the teacher wanted an essay on something, and my buddy didn’t feel like writing it. Instead he drew a picture of Jesus and wrote “Jesus is always the answer” above it. He received full credit.

Mental Health Day – Subject Overload?


With mental health day just passing by I notice more and more students under stress as June starts to become a reality for most. Recently I came across a clip from a television show called Waterloo Road. This show revolves around the staff, students and the community surrounding the school. Despite the show not being an actual school – the issues that are addressed by the school are real.

The reason why the clip caught my attention was the vice-principal stating that students are under a lot of stress come exam time and should be supported and guided in how to cope with stressful situations. However, instead of the staff supporting the children one boastful member stated that kids these days receive easy exams. The vice-principal instead of getting frustrated and angry asked his staff to sit one exam and see the difficulty and stress students undergo during exam time. The majority of the staff did take the exam – however all was not what it seemed.

Upon been given their test – they teachers realised it was mock exams of other subjects which they themselves did not teach. What transpired was the staff reacted the same way students do when under huge amount of pressures. Some knuckle down and try their hardest – others had a knee-jerk reaction and wanted to leave the exam without attempting as they didn’t understand the exam.


The staff became aware of the strain and stress that students are put under after it was pointed out to them that students do undertake up to and over five subjects (and in Ireland most students take seven subjects for the Leaving Certificate).

A few things to take away from this clip is

  • Students have more than one subject!
  • Little bit at a time – if students seem overwhelmed, break it down a little bit at a time for them.
  • Timetable – encourage timetables for study.
  • Encourage students to get a full nights rest – it will make a world of difference to their mental and physical health.

Also one heart-warming story I heard recently was a phenomenal teacher who made caramel slices for stressed final year students. Maybe surprise students with a small homemade treat or a five minutes rest at the end of class might make the world of difference!



The classroom is where students file in, open a textbook, learn, and leave again to repeat the process in another room down the hall. However, there is more to a classroom than just learning.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be part of a group of people who were given the opportunity to talk about who they thought were inspirational leaders. Each person choose someone different – yet each of these inspirational leaders had left a huge impact on each person. A common trait I noticed being mentioned was each inspirational leader was passionate and caring. They gave their time to listen and act which in turn inspired others.


It has inspired me to write these three tips to remind students as well as teachers to highlight the importance of listening and talking to each other.

  • Students – when a teacher says come talk to me if you’re stressed or overwhelmed – they actually mean that! Don’t think they won’t want to listen to you.
  • Teachers – remember to remind students they can talk to you. It may seem obvious but sometimes they need a gentle reminder.
  • Top tip – try and not rush out the door to your next class – it’s those few crucial seconds were lives are changed. It might be that little moment you stopped and gave your time that people remember in ten years times – not the lessons.