6 Extension Activities for History

Hey, Teach,

As an educator, you’re familiar with the following types of student:

  • “Boom! I’m finished!”: The student who does an assignment in five minutes, throws their pencil on the table with flair, and goes to sleep.
  • “I’m failing…is there anything I could do for extra credit?” …Yup.
  • “I don’t feel intellectually challenged enough; do you have something I could do for more fulfillment and to satiate my curiosity?”: JK, this student doesn’t exist.

Want to handle them all at once? Welcome to the magic of extension work. Back in the 2000s, when Shmoop was a classroom teacher, we kept a hanging folder of extension worksheets for students to grab on the way out of class. Now that we’re in the digital age, there are even more opportunities to challenge, reframe, and expand a lesson—all courtesy of Shmoop.

We’re going to focus on History class in today’s newsletter—cuz English would have just been so obvious. But these suggestions are quite adaptable; we’re sure they apply to your own subject, from P.E. to Geometry. (Skeptical, phys ed teachers? Just try the tips and see.)

1. Our suggestions for differentiation and extension (duh).

All the new Shmoop humanities courses have suggestions for differentiation and extension included in the teacher notes. (So it’s sorta like you’re buying three lessons for the price of one.) Buy a subscription and steal our ideas.

2. Our Literary Theory Learning Guides.

Yup, we said it: Literary. Theory. While the concept seems a little ivory tower, letting students extend lessons by doing independent research and applying theory to history is a great idea. (Plus, our Literary Theory Learning Guides are super-accessible and well written. Just sayin’.) Challenge students to use our guides on Feminist Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Marxism, and more to examine the historical era you’re studying from a different perspective than ye ole textbook. Mind. Blown.

3. DIY Shmoop.

It’s a crime our website doesn’t have more videos about the Salem Witch Trials, huh? For extension, have students script and film their own witty, irreverent, and all-around exceptional Shmoop-style videos, be it with live action, puppets, or animation. Having them explain difficult concepts in a humorous and simple way will show total synthesis of the subject.

4. Shmoop-aided timelines.

As you well know, a visually-enhanced timeline is one of the best ways to review material, gather primary sources, and see the bigger picture. Have students review our History Learning Guides and Historical Texts Learning Guides—they’re like Lit Guides, but, uh, with history and historical speeches and documents—and use the information to make a timeline. Then, have them use an in iconic image from back in the day at each point in their timeline. Just remind them to cite us—it’s the cool thing to do.

5. Flashcards.

Gotta catch ’em all. Challenge students to make a full set of flashcards for the unit and share them with their classmates. That way, they’re extending their own learning and helping those around them. (Kinda like Shmoop, areweright?)

6. Did we say Courses yet?

Seriously, Shmoopers: Our Online Courses are a veritable treasure trove of lessons and ideas, and signing your students up for one of our electives (or just printing out a reading or activity from one and passing it out) is a great way to supplement your traditional curriculum. You can bolster a lesson on the Gulf War with Shmoop’s ’90s Music and History course or add to a lesson on the Federalist Papers with Shmoop’s course on…The Federalist Papers. Whodathunk?

Keep your eye out for our next installement, when we’ll talk about using Shmoop’s quotes in the classroom.

‘Til then,

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