In praise of BBC iWonder guides – a great learning resource

Recently, I have been using the iWonder guides created by the BBC and freely available from the BBC website. iWonder guides focus on a specific question, such as Why is Chinese New Year so Important? and How did the Tudor Dynasty Shape Modern Britain?, and then present key information that answers the enquiry through structured text, videos of presentations from an expert, audio interviews and pictures of documents. The iWonder guides cover many different areas relating to the curriculum, but history does particularly well with this resource as the guides were launched with their guides on e First World War in the summer of 2014.


As a digital learning resource, the iWonder guides provide a valuable and interactive opportunity to engage students in a way that perhaps. Text book does not. The enquiries are extremely interesting and accessible to all. Although, the guides cover the more traditional questions that are seen in many text books, they also offer alternative areas that gain less attention, such as the impact of Pack Up Your Troubles on popular culture during the First World War, which I found engrossing and allowed me to explore with my classes a distinct and alternative curriculum areas that would not otherwise been examined.

The most effective application I have used the iWonder guides is in two ways –

– They make an excellent resource for home learning assignments where students are given the link to a specific iWonder guide and students are expected to read it and write a summary of what they have looked at. This has been very popular with my students, particularly those who find it difficult to handle large amounts of text.

– The iWonder guides also provide an excellent resource to stretch and challenge your more able students, as many of the guides are thought-provoking and stimulate discussion and extend knowledge on curriculum linked topics. This is an alternative way to encourage wider reading and independent learning.

iWonder guides are certainly worth exploring as a teaching and learning resource, so do have a look at the iWonder home page – – and follow them for all their latest news on Twitter – @BBCiWonder. Highly recommended.

Why did William win at Hastings? – Lesson resources

These lesson resources focus upon a lesson enquiry on why did William win the Battle of Hastings. The resources include a PowerPoint presentation with key tasks, starter and plenary, a card sort for the first activity looking at the reasons and evidence for why William won at Hastings and a printable burger paragraph which students can use to help them scaffold their writing, taken from the School’s History Project’s new book Making Sense of History – 1066-1485 by Ian Dawson, Neil Bates, Alec Fisher and Richard McFahn which inspired much of this enquiry.

William wins at Hastings

Burger paragraph

Why did William win the Battle of Hastings in 1066 card sort

What was Elizabeth I really like? A source-based lesson – resources

My students requested that I put these lesson resources on the character of Elizabeth I on my blog. These lesson resoruces consist of a PowerPoint presentation which focuses upon the key ideas of propaganda, nature, origin and purpose of sources. The presentation contains a starter, lesson content, tasks and a plenary as well as three source analysis squares which are the focus on the main lesson activity.

Elizabeth I sources

Elizabeth Sources – Source evaluation 3 Elizabeth Sources – Source evaluation 2 Elizabeth Sources – Source evaluation 1