Last summer my history team began the gargantuan task of revising our KS3 curriculum. When we had agreed bits I often shared our work on Twitter (I tweet under the stupid name @kenradical). I had posted our Year 7 overview one evening and Ben Walsh (@History_Ben) replied asking where the global history was. He was right, we had hardly any. The next day I went back to school and raised this with my team. We all agreed he was right but the problem was that in Year 7 we only have two hours per fortnight and we wanted to squeeze in a lot of British history. It was at this point that we realised that if we used homework cleverly we could fit in a big old chunk of global history. It was at this point I suppose that ‘Meanwhile Elsewhere’ was born.
Coincidentally that week my colleagues and I attended the Bristol Schools History Forum and went to see my friend Dave Rawlings talk. He spoke about how he had been getting his class to write historical narratives and at one point happened to say ‘isn’t meanwhile elsewhere a lovely phrase’. During the coffee break in a conversation with my colleague Sam we now had a title for our project.
We decided that for each of our enquiries in Year 7 we would set a homework to go alongside it. In this homework we would introduce a piece of global history that was happening at the same time as the British unit we were covering in class. For example when we teach the Normans we would ask the students to look at the Islamic Empire and what was happening in Baghdad, history that was concurrent. In this way we would teach global history and it wouldn’t be tacked on it would be relevant and useful to provide a wider context.
I knocked together a template worksheet. The principles were simple. It was on one side of A4 (to not make it overwhelming). It would be filled with simple fill in text boxes. Most would be ‘find the information’ type activities and some would be more open ended stretch activities. To guide the students we would give them recommended websites rather than them use random sites with poor information.
I posted an image of this on Twitter and it exploded. I’m lucky if I get 10 to 20 likes for one of my tweets. In this case I got over 200 in a day or so. Clearly we were on to a good idea.
In the meantime (no pun intended) my team continued beavering away at producing these worksheets to use this academic year. Then I tottered off to the SHP conference in Leeds. At the bar Will Bailey Watson (@mrwbw) accosted me (as he often does) and spoke about how he loved the idea and wondered if I would be keen to crowd-source a pack of them which we could share for others to use. I agreed but only if Will led the project and I passed the baton on.
In late July Will posted his proposal on social media and waited for the responses. Will and I assumed we would be lucky if we got 20 worksheets handed in. We got over 50 very quickly. Will then spent the summer editing these (I gave him a hand with a few) and then put these all up on a website.
We are beyond chuffed with the final product. On the site you can find over 50 quality worksheets to use with your students. All designed to give a sideways glance at history to see what it happening elsewhere. We hope you find them useful and your students find them interesting.
If you are enthused by the idea of talking great ideas re history teaching and like working together to share resources, please do get involved. What other high quality resources could be crowd-sourced? Do get involved by joining the Historical Association and joining conversations with @histassoc.