Engage Students in Your History Lesson

Bryn Bonino
3 min readJan 8, 2019

I recently got back in touch with an assistant principal who I worked for 10 years ago, and he said that she still remembered how I taught the Industrial Revolution. That shot me back to one of my favorite lessons where students were participating in my social studies lesson, and having fun while doing so. In this post I will address three resources that set me up for success as a high school social studies teacher.

Make History Come Alive

TCI is a curriculum company that specializes in making lessons that will get students physically acting out parts of lessons. When I taught the Industrial Revolution lesson reference above, the History Alive curriculum instructed me to give most of the students the role of factory workers, and they sat in a long row of desk completing repetitive actions. One student was a foreman that put increased pressure on and yelled at the factory workers. A handful of students acted as strike breakers. They would jump in and take over the job of any factory worker who wasn’t performing up to the standards of the foreman. This type of lesson stood in stark contrast to the lecture style of a traditional history classroom.

This lesson was done in my completely analog classroom in a different time when most students did not come to class with any type of device. I was happy to be able to teach using History Alive more recently and enjoyed how their reading materials are now web-based and interactive. This allows a teacher to flip their classroom to spend most of the time on kinesthetic and interactive learning activities. I also really liked the Spanish-language reading option for the online materials. I used to teach Spanish to the same students that I taught history to. I was able to reinforce the content of both classes with the History Alive curriculum.

Focus On Multiplicity Of Voices

For two years I was responsible for teaching U.S. history to 11th graders who had all just immigrated to the U.S. from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. How did I get them learning English and interested in the history of their new country of residence? The Choices Program from Brown University helped me to bring a dose of excitement (and controversy) using primary sources.

Bryn Bonino

Educator, marketer, and photographer. Learn more at https://brynbonino.com