Incorporating ICT

Using current events as discussion points for teaching and learning history

Using current events as discussion points for learning history

Today the press informs us the the worlds oldest known Holocaust survivor has passed away (aged 110). Alice Herz-Sommer and her son were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II, surviving both her mother and husband. (link to article – published and accessed Monday 24 February 2014)

In Year 10 Australian History, students are asked to study the following:

An examination of significant events of World War II, including the Holocaust and use of the atomic bomb. (Link to Australian Curriculum here)

History is often seen as solely studying the past but we can look to current media reports as mediums for source analysis and reflection. This link provides a number of activities for teachers of history to incorporate into their history classroom including but not limited to:

  • You have been asked my a member of Alice Herz-Sommer’s family describe her experiences in Theresienstadt concentration camp. Conduct online research into the camp and write a description of the camp during World War II;
  • Write a diary entry as Alice Herz-Sommer during her time at the Theresienstadt concentration camp;
  • Discuss the impact of the death of Alice on our understanding of the experiences of Holocaust victims during World War II;
  • Assess the article as a secondary resource. Is it factual? How useful and accurate is the article? Can we rely on it for our historical analysis of the Holocaust.
  • While researching online, describe and analyse two websites for their usefulness and reliability as sources for our study of the Holocaust in World War II.

Note: Remember to scaffold the analysis of sources for students in this task. 

Historical Skills:

Identify and locate relevant sources, using ICT and other methods

Identify the origin, purpose and context of primary and secondary sources

Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of primary and secondary sources

Identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past


Incorporating Twitter Into Your History Classroom – Women on the Home Front Lesson Plan

We are often challenged to incorporate ICT into our lesson plans in creative and inclusive ways. It is important to constantly challenge students and therefore improve their ICT skills while also ensuring that all students are effectively able to participate in the activity.

Twitter is a widely used and popular form of social media which is well known by many students. It can be accessed either on a mobile device, computer or iPad and a good proportion of students will have used it to follow celebrities, friends or other persons of interest. It is essential to ensure that our pedagogy remains innovative and relevant to student’s lives and I think  most students will be extra excited to utilise a (usually banned) device as a tool for historical analysis.

Twitter is a good classroom tool when used to encourage online discussion (either in the classroom or as homework) when used in the right way. By utilising a hashtag (#), students can follow a discussion and contribute by posting comments limited to 140 characters. Here is an example of incorporating Twitter into a history lesson:

LESSON PLAN: Changing role of women on the Australian home front during World War II

The impact of World War II, with a particular emphasis on the Australian home front, including the changing roles of women and use of wartime government controls (conscription, manpower controls, rationing and censorship)

Topic: World War II (1939-45)

Historical Skills: 

Use historical terms and concepts

Select and use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies

Identify and analyse different historical interpretations (including their own)

Prior Knowledge and Understanding

Students will have already studied the causes, course and events of World War II.

You may ask students to create Twitter accounts prior to the lesson so that you can jump right in.


Web links provided at the end of this post may be of use to both students and teacher.

Students have an understanding of the historical terms and concepts used to study this period (a Historical Terms and Concepts list or glossary to refer to during the activity).

Students have access to their phones, laptops, iPad or other electronic device used to access Twitter in the classroom. If students do not wish to use Twitter, they should have access to paper or cardboard for writing their own “tweets” which will be posted by the teacher on their behalf with their initials.

Smart board or similar for displaying Twitter feed.

A handout/slide with some guidelines and rules for the use of Twitter for the classroom. You may also like to give students a handout which explains how to use Twitter. A guide can be found here.

Lesson Instructions:

Explain classroom rules for the use of Twitter and social networking.

Post the first question (see below) with a hashtag (e.g. #MrsPHistory):


Ask your students to search for the hashtag in Twitter (you should demonstrate this on your Smart Board)


Advise your students that they should use this hashtag at the end of each “tweet” so that they may be included in the conversation. Ask the class to post their first response (each tweet should be 140 characters or less). Post any tweets manually written down by students with their initials at the end.

* Note that you will need to watch the feed to monitor participation from all students.

You may either choose to use a student’s tweet to form your next question or pose one of your own for the class to answer next.

Some questions and activities to post:

List some of the ways women contributed to the war effort on the home front.

Assess how important you think women’s roles were in the war effort.

How might women have responded to the return of men after the war ended?

Assess the effect of the war on women’s roles in society. Do you think women would have wanted to return to traditional roles?

Research “The Experiences of Women in Australia during World War 2”. Find an e.g. of a woman’s experience during the war and briefly describe.

Can you identify various viewpoints on the role of women on the home front?

* Don’t forget to explain your tweets and give your students enough time to conduct the research and post a tweet for each question. Although it should be a pretty fast flowing online discussion, some students will need more time than others and encourage collaboration amongst the students. This shouldn’t be a silent classroom!

Collaboration and assessment:

Ask your students to find three “tweets” posted by other students. They should reply to the tweet with their own observations.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 7.31.20 pm


Remind your students to always use the # hashtag when commenting so that the comments may be seen by the class. You can display the comments on the Smart Board for those not using Twitter and print a discussion log for the student’s notes.

Finally, ask your students to assess the use of Twitter and the lesson plan for further development. If your students find this task to be useful, interesting and engaging, it can be adapted for further use as required. They can post their comments on the feed!

Online resources: Many of the sites below will guide students to other resources. Women in Wartime is particularly good for giving an overview of the topic.

Year 10 History Australian Curriculum

Women in Wartime

Australian War Memorial – Stories about women’s involvement in the war effort

Experience of South Australian women on the home front

Have you ever used Twitter in the classroom? How did your students respond? Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this lesson plan.