A Thousand Stories…

History for me is a love story. I hope you grow to love it too.

Dear 7B,

I love teaching History because it is full of stories. Sometimes I almost forget that I’m doing this as a job. I have a group of bright-faced students in front of me, asking me questions and hearing my stories. The students begin to tell me things that they’ve found out themselves or they ask me questions I can’t answer. Somewhere along the way, they begin to teach me too.  

What, I get paid for this?

In Year 7 History you learn about the human story, how we started out as hunters and gatherers and gradually changed into farmers and herders, then began to build settlements and cities, learned to write and became, over the millennia, technological whizzes and the most powerful species on the planet. Not all of those changes were positive. Some of them were environmentally destructive; many led to suffering and human cost. But the story is still a fascinating one.

This is what I look like. Sort of. Without the wrinkles and other unnecessary details.

I hope that you enjoy hearing this story and developing your skills as a historian, story-teller, writer and technological whizz. I hope you enjoy being part of our school and getting to know each other too. Don’t forget to ask me if you get lost!

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Below there is a little quiz for you to try. See how clever you are at guessing the details. At the end, you will get a little report with explanations to help you understand why your answer was right (or wrong).

The Quizlet below allows you to learn and revise the words you will encounter at the start of the course in Year 7 History. After you have cycled through the digital cards, you can click on “Scatter” and play a simple matching game. The other option is “Space Race”, which is dangerously addictive.

Incidentally, the Quizlet website allows you to make your own digital flashcards, just like the ones below, so that you learn the vocabulary for a language, science or any other topic. You can set up your own account, provided you have an email address. This could help you as you navigate your way through everything you have to learn at high school!

Quizlet sign up

Your final task: Write a short comment in which you describe an important event in your personal history. How have you coped with your first few days at high school? Were you anxious beforehand? What helped you to settle in? Have you been lost yet? Don’t forget, no family names and nothing that could personally identify you. 

Welcome to the beginning of history…

A rosy-cheeked teacherDear 7B,

This is an amateur mini-website called a blog. I created it for the use of my year 7 history class in 2008, so you can go several years back into the past and find pictures of other students and even their comments on tasks we have done.

You can visit this blog even when you are at home. In fact, some aspects of it will work better at home, because you will not be restricted there by the school’s blocking of sites such as Youtube.

The advantage of having a blog like this is that I can direct you towards good websites, give you tasks to do and ask you to leave comments on various topics.

Today, I want you to find out about the start of agriculture and the domestication of animals. After that, I want you to leave a comment about your first few days of high school.

Rules for commenting: No family names, no insults, no information leading to your identification by outsiders – just intelligent, thoughtful remarks that will amuse and educate others.

Welcome to high school, to history and to my class.

Kind regards from Ms Green

Work for Today:

A NEW WAY OF LIFE

When some people became farmers and herders, from about 10000BC, their lives changed dramatically.

  • Farming meant that people could settle in one place.

  • They could store food for the future.

  • Larger families were possible and in fact desirable. No longer did people have to carry their young children during long nomadic migrations. Instead, they needed all the labour they could get. Farming is intensive. This would have been the start of child labour! (We do our best to continue this trend at our school.)

  • People could eventually live in much larger groups, leading ultimately to more diverse societies, skills and occupations.

  • Farming could support a far larger population than hunting and gathering, so societies based on farming could grow quickly and become much more complex and varied.

  • Farming was not necessarily a better way to live; in some ways hunting and gathering in small bands would have been simpler, with fewer possessions, more sharing and less impact on the environment. But once the idea of farming began it spread; the societies that were based on this new way of living grew, prospered, diversified and often became powerful.

One of the changes in the New Stone Age was the domestication of animals. Go to this site for a timeline of animal domestication.

This photo was taken in Vietnam by my son Patrick and is used with this permission. It shows a domesticated cat. Cats are believed to have been domesticated first by the ancient Egyptians, whose huge grain stores needed protection from rodents.

This photo was taken in Vietnam by my son Patrick and is used with his permission. It shows a domesticated cat. Cats are believed to have been domesticated first by the ancient Egyptians, whose huge grain stores needed protection from rodents.

Animal domestication link

1. List the first six animals to be domesticated and the approximate date. Then click on your favourite to find out the evidence about when, how and why they were domesticated by humans.

Plants were also domesticated. This means that humans bred the plants for the qualities they most wanted in them. Plants with larger wheat grains were chosen just as goats were chosen for smaller horns. Gradually the domesticated population varied significantly from the wild one.

Table of plant domestication

2. Write down four of the important crops and the approximate date of domestication.


Welcome to history, 7B!

Dear 7B,

This is my Year 7 History Blog, an amateur mini-website that you can use to brush up on your knowledge and extend your reading beyond your text book.

The best thing about this blog is, you can visit it any time, whether at school or at home, so long as you know the address. That means you can use it to check on what we’re doing in class, to flick through class powerpoints, to revise for tests and to find websites with useful information.

There’s a little alien whose name is at the top of this blog. His name is Emit Repoons. You can see him in the picture below. In a way, he is the mascot of the blog.

My name is Emit Repoons. I'm blue, alien and clever.

My name is Emit Repoons. I'm blue, alien and clever.

You have been a delightful class so far, full of ideas and quick with intelligent comments and knowledgeable remarks.

Kind regards,

Ms Green.

A lucky history teacher

Ros in jumperGosh, I’m lucky.

Every year I get a bunch of bright, questioning students for whom History is a new subject. Sure, they’ve learned history in primary school, they’ve read some “Horrible History” books and they’ve watched some gruesome documentaries. They know plenty. But I get to be their first History teacher. I am the one who discovers their lively minds, harnesses their curiosity, delves into their already considerable knowledge, regales them with my favourite stories of the past and introduces them to the secrets, what-ifs and endless possibilities of History. How lucky can a teacher be?

Could this be the site for a ritual self-mummification?

Could this be the site for a ritual self-mummification?

Sometimes I have a fear that the school administration, in its unfathomable wisdom, will take my year sevens away from me. I imagine what kind of tantrum a history teacher might throw, in such circumstances. Would I perform a ritual self-mummification in the quadrangle? Would I start a one-woman demonstration, holding a placard with the words, “Teacher’s rights violated”? I can certainly picture myself grovelling in the principal’s office. “Please,” I would beg. “Please don’t take those little tackers away from me.”

I bet you don’t think that you’re little tackers. But you will feel that way for a little while at your new school. The senior students are so BIG. I even find them big. Don’t worry. This school is a wonderful, friendly place. I’ve been here for ever and I never want to leave. I hope you’ll feel the same. At least for six years…

Ancient stones revealing ancient secrets...

Ancient stones revealing ancient secrets... (Photo kindly provided by Mrs McQueen)

Hmm, now about History. We start out with the dawn of humankind. I love that phrase. We meander through the Stone Age. We visit ancient Egypt. Ancient Greece and ancient Rome are also a couple of bus-stops along the way. I mean chariot-stops. Then we go to medieval Europe. You know, peasants aplenty, knights, castles, rotten sanitation, plague, crusades, a semi-constant state of war. It’s messy but fascinating. I hope you like it all as much as I do.

Don’t forget, your job is to ask questions I have never thought of, to find out information not already in my dwindling memory, to delve into the past with all the passion of a thinker, a philosopher and archaeologist. Picture yourself with a mental shovel. Start digging!

Oh, and have a great time at high school, S1X!

Kind regards,

Ros Green, your lucky History teacher

A Balancing Act

Welcome to high school, 7X! You might find it a bit tricky at first, but I know you will master all the critical information very quickly. Last year was harder. We had just changed all the room numbers, so even the teachers kept getting lost. At least this year we should be able to help you out if you are wandering in a panic around the school, wondering where you should be.

Boy on donkey JB

***Other kids have balancing acts too!***

(Photo taken by John Bayley during his recent trip to Egypt. He’s my brilliant photographer friend, who should be working for National Geographic. He travels and I stay home. For some reason I think he’s happier about the arrangement than I am!)

All the same, you will find that you need to balance all the conflicting demands of your subject teachers, new friends and family life this year. For most of you, this will be part of the fun. There will never be a dull moment (except, perhaps, in a history class when I talk for far too long).

Now, about History. We start with Stones and Bones. That’s prehistory, archaeology and the Stone Age.

Egypt in Stones jBAnother shot from the lens of John Bayley

Next, we move to ancient Egypt (you could call it Peasants and Pyramids, or Mummies and Mud-brick, or Pharaohs and Floods). Then there is ancient Greece OR ancient Rome. You have a choice there. It’s the only time I allow a little bit of democracy. Most of the time I’m a typical teacher autocrat. Be warned.

Pyramid and camel JBPhoto by John Bayley

Finally, we move on to the medieval period: Benedictines and Buboes, perhaps, or Battles and Battlements. You know the kind of thing.

About this blog: you can go back into the deep past and see what other students have done and achieved before you. You can try their quizzes, look at their assignments and read up on topics they have covered. You can also see what we are doing now very easily by reading the most recent post or the homework box on the top left. You may also like to leave a comment, ask a question, suggest a website, or educate us all about history, school or life. Make sure your comments are thoughtful, constructive and entertaining.

If you do leave a comment, never put your family name in it. We use only first names and I avoid referring to our school too. This blog is private; you can only find it through the address, not through google searches. So when you get home, bookmark it or add it to your favourites so that you can find it. Whenever you leave a comment, as if by magic I receive an email. I can write a response to a question to you individually or to the blog, whatever you wish. All part of the service! Of course, some comments are for others to read and require no response from me.

Now, have a brilliant year and I hope the balancing act of Year 7 is a challenge, a thrill and a joy for you all. It is part of the pleasure of being a teacher that I get to observe my year sevens as they settle in and begin to show their humour, wit and confidence in their new setting.

Kind regards,

Ros/Ms Green.