For me, its anything that captures the imagination, enthuses or even sparks inspiration for students in a History lesson. More so, when I think "big", I think outlandish, memorable and relevant.
I've done all of these in various shapes or forms and they have worked well.
Id love to hear yours too (please comment at the foot of the blog!).
Jack the Ripper
This lesson can be placed at the beginning of an historical enquiry and engrosses the students from the word go.
As they enter the room, there should be “warning” tape from wall to wall placed around the silhouette of a dead body (could use black sugar paper).
Students are told that this person has been the victim of a murder. In teams, students are then told that they are detectives and need to work out what happened.
STEP 1 – Students need to come up with a list of all the things they would do first (check CCTV, door to door search etc).
STEP 2 – Explain to students that the year is 1888. Ask them to now eliminate those things that they could not do at this time.
STEP 3 – On their list, they will probably have “interview a witness”. They should come up with the list of questions. You can take on the role of witness, PC Joseph Andrews (Police helmet works here)! Use this original witness statement and prepare to hotseat answers -
Police-constable Joseph Allen, 423 H, deposed, - Last night I was in Castle-alley. It was then 20 minutes past 12 when I passed through. I was through the alley several times. I remained there for five minutes. I entered the alley through the archway in Whitechapel-road. I had something to eat under the lamp where the deceased was found. Having remained in the alley for five minutes, I went into Wentworth-street. There was neither man nor woman there. There were wagons in the alley - two right underneath the lamp.
[Coroner] Would you swear there was no one in the wagons? - I would not swear to that, as I did not look into them; one of the wagons was an open one. Everything was very quiet at the time. The backs of some of the houses in Newcastle-street faced the alley, and in some of the upper windows were lights. That was not an unusual thing at that time. I cannot say if any of the windows were open. No sounds came from those houses. On leaving the alley I met Constable Walter Andrews, 272 H, in Wentworth-street. It was about 100 yards from the alley where I met Andrews. I spoke to Andrews, who then went towards Gol