Sample program for history stage 4 using examples from retroactive 1 second edition topic 1: investigating history

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TOPIC 1: INVESTIGATING HISTORY Retroactive 1, 2nd ed., Chapter 1, pp. 2–25


What is History?

How do historians investigate the past?

Why is conserving our heritage important?

Note: Teaching of Topic 1 Investigating History can be integrated in the study of societies of the past, or studied as a discrete topic.

A student:

4.4 identifies major periods of historical time and sequences people and events within specific periods of time

4.5 identifies the meaning, purpose and context of historical sources

4.6 draws conclusions about the usefulness of sources as evidence in an inquiry

4.10 selects and uses appropriate oral, written and other forms, including ICT, to communicate effectively about the past.


Historical skills to be integrated into this topic:

  • sequence events within the specific period of time

  • use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts

  • identify primary and secondary sources

  • distinguish between fact and opinion

  • examine the actions, motives, values and attitudes of people from the past

  • draw conclusions about the usefulness of sources for an historian

  • identify perspectives of different individuals and groups.

ICT skills appropriate for this topic may include:

  • draw conclusions about the usefulness of sources for an historian, including a website





  • interpret and construct time lines

  • define the terms that describe historical periods of time

  • sequence societies and events within specific periods of time

1.3 History – time in the past (pp. 8-9)

- Putting events in order

- Dividing time

Individual comprehension work on ‘time’, CYU 1, 2, 5, 6, 7. (Option to complete electronically on the CD-ROM – click on Activities headings.)

Download and distribute history timeline from Retroactive 1 website.

Examine and discuss different timelines on introductory pages of chapters 2-11.

Timeline skills work, CYU 3 and 4 and Worksheet 1.2.

Class discussion of anachronisms. Individual web activity, CYU q. 8(a), p. 9. Weblink for movie mistakes:

Group work on anachronisms, q. 8(b). Use Worksheet 1.1 for group or individual work.

Class game to check understanding of terms and concepts of time – students form teams, each student writes a random date (BCE or CE) on paper and holds it up, then they position themselves in date order as a ‘team timeline’. First team to finish wins.

  • the process of historical inquiry:

- fact and opinion

- the usefulness of sources as evidence including a website

- differing perspectives

- cause and effect

- history as the study of people

  • ask historical questions

  • distinguish between fact and opinion

  • draw some conclusions about the usefulness of sources including a website

  • examine differing historical perspectives and interpretations

  • explain cause and effect

  • identify significant people of the past

  • examine the motives for people’s actions in the past

  • explain the consequences of people’s actions

1.1 History – investigating the past (pp. 4-5)

- History and the historian

1.2 History – people, actions and consequences (pp. 6-7)

- History is about people

- History is about motives

- History is about consequences

1.4 Investigating the past using sources (pp. 10-13)

- Primary and secondary sources

- Asking historical questions

- Fact, fiction and opinion

- Cause and effect

1.5 Investigating the past – interpreting sources (pp. 14-15)

- Sources, evidence, and interpretation

- Meaning, purpose and context

- Usefulness, reliability and perspective

1.6 Investigating history – digging up the past (pp. 16-19)

- Working at a dig

1.7 Investigating the past – deciding how old something is (pp. 20-21)

- Tree-ring dating

- Radiocarbon dating

- Dating stone and clay

Teacher narration of key points from Introduction p. 2.

Teacher narration/student reading of information on pp. 4-5. Invite class feedback on what is history and the role of the historian.

Questioning with oral/written responses to check student understanding (CYU 1-5, p.5)

Individual work on ‘Use your understanding’, and ‘Using sources’ p. 5 – invite feedback for class discussion.

Teacher narration of text on history as ‘people, motives, actions, consequences’, pp. 6-7.

Discussion of past people’s cultures, conflicts, values – source 1.2.1, US 1, p. 7. Group activity and PowerPoint report on a personality from past, RC p. 7.

Explore motives, actions and consequences related to World Trade Center attack in 2001 and Iraq War in 2003 (CYU 3, US 3, p. 7).

Individual or computer lab activity: examine the STONEHENGE SITE STUDY on Retroactive 1 CD-ROM (click on icon p. 25) and complete the investigation, discuss conclusions in class.

Additional website ref:

Teacher narration and class discussion of history as ‘detective work’ and looking for clues (use household rubbish bin example, US 1 p. 15). Give out (anonymous) lists of items students compiled for US 1 and students write paragraph on the conclusions they might draw about the family. Discuss factors that could make conclusions incorrect.

Alternatively use Worksheet 1.3 ‘Mystery box’ activity.

Explanation of types of sources, using examples from text pp. 10-13 and around classroom.

Discuss reliability of films as historical sources, eg Gladiator (book front cover and source p. 12), Rabbit Proof Fence (pp. 286-7), Braveheart (p. 176), Joan of Arc (p. 199).

Examine website as source using source 1.4.5 p. 13 and noting labels, identify features to assess reliability.

Teacher-directed discussion of sources as ‘not always what they seem’ using sources 1.5.1 and 1.5.2 as starting points.

Discuss context, reliability using p. 15 and annotated example of written source (1.5.3).

Reinforce the ‘W’ questions using the text on p. 12. Students check understanding on sources (CYU 1-8 p. 13 and CYU 1-6, p. 15).

Teacher-led discussion of archaeology and roles of experts (pp. 16-21). View parts of videos, discuss familiar movies eg Indiana Jones.

Refer to examples: underwater discovery of Alexandria, pp. 2-3, Egypt’s tombs, pp. 50-1, terracotta warriors pp. 134-5, Worksheet 2.7 on Ramses tomb discovery.

Activity on work of archaeologist (CYU 1, p.19), incorporate Internet research or organise visit by an archaeologist. Individual work to complete US 1-5, p. 19, and Worksheet 1.4.

Class brainstorm to think of objects that archaeologists in the year 4000 might discover from our own time.
Summarise on whiteboard the three methods of dating (pp. 20-1).

Oral/written revision, CYU 1-4.

Discuss Shroud of Turin and controversy. Suggest access site

Field work, US 1, to find ring patterns on tree trunks, or refer to teacher photographs.

Weblink for tree-ring dating:

Individual library/Internet research into other dating methods (R, p. 21).

  • heritage issues

  • describe some aspects of family/community heritage

  • appreciate the value of preserving and conserving our heritage

1.8 Why is conserving our heritage important? (pp. 22-23)

- Celebrating heritage

- Saving our heritage

1.9 Our world heritage (pp. 24-25)

- Role of UNESCO

- Site studies

Teacher-led discussion of cultures and heritage, loss of heritage, using pp. 22-23.

Examine role of UNESCO and World Heritage List, categories of listings (p.24).

Internet research (CYU 1-4 p. 25), Sphinx, and Australia’s heritage sites, see UNESCO site at

Sphinx restoration:

(Cross-refer to Australian Aboriginal heritage p. 282, Stonehenge p. 6 and see above, Ancient Egypt heritage pp. 48-51, Greeks pp. 82-5, Romans pp. 118-19.)

Link to discussion of Sydney Opera House, see p. 55 text and Comm. q.2.

Discuss value of site studies and virtual site studies for understanding our own and others’ heritage, p. 24.

Revise chapter 1 glossary terms, p.3.


Main references:

M. Anderson, I. Keese, A. Low, Retroactive 1 Second edition (Textbook and CD-ROM), John Wiley & Sons (Jacaranda), Brisbane, 2005

M. Anderson, I. Keese, A. Low, Retroactive 1 Worksheets, John Wiley & Sons (Jacaranda), Brisbane, 2005
Other Books/CD-ROMs:




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