6 Ways to Make History Relevant For Students

make history relevant


If you are looking for simple strategies to make history relevant for students- ways to help students find more value in history by connecting what they're learning to their lives and using it to better understand the world today, I have six prompts that can really help with that!

These are universal prompts that can be used routinely throughout the school year to spark discussions or for writing tasks that challenge students to look for lessons from the content that can help them in their lives or that help them make sense of the world today. 

6 Powerful Prompts to Make History More Relevant

  1. What is one thing from this unit that you learned that could help you become a better person or live a richer life? (This is my personal favorite!)

  2. “The most important lesson we must learn from X topic to create a better world or build a better future is ___________.”

  3. What is one thing we learned from this unit that connects to something in your life?

  4. “If X never happened, then ________________.”

  5. What life advice could you learn from any historical figure we studied during this unit?

  6. After learning about X topic, one piece of wisdom that I could apply to my daily life would be _________________. 

Grab the free slides presentation with these prompts here.

how to make history relevant

How to Use This Strategy

I would choose just two of the prompts for students to pick from. Giving some choice always helps, but too much choice for a quick activity could leave some students in decision paralysis. Then, I would have students take out their resources like notes, readings, and worksheets, so they can include specific details into their brainstorming or writing.

I keep these short and sweet, but you could make this a more formal discussion or writing activity if you wanted. I give students about ten minutes to write a paragraph or two before we have a 10-15 minute discussion about the relevance of our unit.

Done regularly, students will start looking for the value in history on their own- without prompting.

When this happens, you’ve won. 

In my course, "Make History Engaging, Exciting, and Empowering," I teach a few other ways you can differentiate this activity to support all students while keeping it fun and engaging! And of course, there are so many other low-prep, high impact strategies to make history relevant and come alive for students! 


Keep teaching and learning,
Dan Lewer
History For Humans 
2020 Hawai’i History Teacher of the Year

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