3 of my Favorite Ways to Review a History Unit

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3 of my favorite activities to review a unit

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I like to keep myself and my students on our toes by not getting into an activities rut.  Today I’m sharing 3 of my favorite ways to review a topic.  You can read about some of my other go-to “get students engaged” strategies and ideas HERE and HERE (both prior posts), and my post from last week on 3 of my favorite ways to introduce a unit HERE.

1. If there are 30 students in the class, I will print out 6 images from the unit. I cut the images into 5 puzzle piece type pieces and mix all 30 cut up puzzle pieces in a box/bag/hat. Each student picks out one puzzle piece without looking, and when all the puzzle pieces have been picked, the students walk around the room trying to find the other pieces to complete their image.  Once each image has been put back together, the group has a few minutes to brainstorm what they know about the image, and how it played into the unit they just studied. They then present their image and its significance to the rest of the class.

2. Every few units I group the students up and have them make sample tests. I tell them that I will choose one or two questions from each review test to include in the actual test. When the tests are completed (it usually takes a whole class period), the students exchange their group’s test with another group and they attempt to answer the questions. The original groups then correct the tests and they all get turned in.

3. One of the other more popular review tactics I’ve used is to have students cast and outline a movie for a given a topic such as The War of the Roses. The students are grouped up and (as a sample) have to address:

a. who would be cast as the main characters in a movie about the topic
b. which historical events/people/themes would the plot focus on and why
c. which worldwide locations would you use to film the movie
d. would there be any unexpected plot twists; what and why
e. in what ways would the movie become more “Hollywood” than “History”
f. what kind of reviews would your movie get from critics and from the general public, what about from historians

I also love having my students make pamphlets because they can be so personalized, and a new favorite is Historical Hollywood Bus Tours!  Do you have a go-to review activity?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Here’s a BONUS activity, “True, False, Fix!”

Using Pamphlets as a Review Activity

Both my students and I look forward to pamphlet projects.  I love that they can get creative and they love not writing essays.

student made pamphlets

student made pamphlets

First and foremost, students have to be concise in pamphlets.  They only have so much space in which to present their information, and depending on the topic they might also have to fit in images and maps.  So they have to decide what the most important, relevant, and compelling things are that they should say, and how to say it succinctly.  Too many times my students ask me “how much should I write” and I always answer with “however much you need to say to make your point.”  This is a great way for students to really practice picking the most important parts of a topic and defending their opinions concisely.

Secondly, and maybe this is just how I’ve chosen to do it, but students can explore a variety of points of view in pamphlets.  History books can’t cover every point of view for each historical event, so I try to work it in whenever possible.  When we do some types of pamphlets, the kids dedicate one flap to a different point of view than is represented in the main part of the pamphlet.  Another way they work with multiple points of view is by grouping up and each makes 3-5 pamphlets, depending on how many points of view we have covered on the topic.

For example, with the New Deal, there were other solutions for recovery and reform proposed at the time than FDR’s New Deal.  So in groups of 3, my students make 3 different pamphlets, one for each major plan proposed at the time (the New Deal, Share the Wealth, and EPIC), and then they make a 4th pamphlet for a recovery and reform plan of their own design (because they so frequently say things like, “why didn’t FDR just do a/b/c” or “why didn’t the someone think of x/y/z” so this is their chance to make their own solution/plan).

In each pamphlet they explain the program’s main points (how it will work, its benefits), how it differs from the other programs, and why it is the best one and should be supported by the public.  For fun, they write a mini-autobiography on the back explaining how they have the authority to tell the public which plan they should support.

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As I wrote this post, I thought of a pamphlet students can make to review the causes of World War 1 and you can find it HERE.  I also recently made a pamphlet activity for the French Revolution (has one element in particular that students should have fun with), Revolutionary War (patriots vs loyalists), Civil War (to become an abolitionist or not), and World War 2 (help FDR make 4 big wartime decisions).  You can also find one for the Industrial Revolution, War of 1812, European Imperialism, US Imperialism, the French and Indian War, the Mexican-American War, and the Spanish Civil War.  If you try any of them out I hope your students enjoy them!  Updated to add, I also made a generic template for students to create a pamphlet for any topic, you can find that one HERE.