Creating "Ghosts of History" in Keynote

Teaching concepts in History class can be very writing focused and often it needs to be, but when I recently taught the concept of Change and Continuity in ancient Roman Warfare I came across this Youtube clip (linked at the bottom of this story) and was inspired by an idea called Ghosts of History. I thought this would be a really fun way to get my students thinking about the concept of change and continuity whilst also justifying their choices.

Students were tasked with finding two images that represent a battle we had studying in Ancient Rome; one needed to represent it as it was (such as a painting), and the second image needed to represent a contemporary take on the location or battle methods or weapons used. They were then to use Keynote, and specifically the opacity tool, to superimpose the modern image onto the ancient one to show both continuity and change. I then had my students present their images to the class and justify their choices.

This sample below shows the two original images I selected (I chose to depict the Battle of Actium with a contemporary image of an Italian naval ship), as well as the merged image created using the opacity tool in Keynote. It took only a couple of minutes to make sure my students were confident with the tool and app.

Image of four slides showing original images as well as a merged image of the Battle of Actium.
Sample shown in class

The images my students created were really interesting and demonstrated their understanding of the concept, but also the battle. Their presentations also allowed class discussion around continuity and change as well as highlighted any areas that needed further revision.

Interestingly, what I initially thought would be a quick creative activity, turned into a valuable lesson around the importance of justifying creative choices and understanding core content.


3 replies

September 04, 2022

What a great way to show continuity and change! Hands on - students have to really think about the concept to create the image. And the fact that they are creating something makes the learning stick. Thanks for the super idea!

September 04, 2022

Thanks Cheryl.

October 22, 2022

What an interesting and effective way to explore the concept of continuity and change! What I love most about this activity is that the use of technology is really quite simple, but the critical thinking involved in explaining the rationale behind the combined image can be really complex.

Thanks so much for sharing!

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