‘Weaving’ knowledge

Teaching History article

By Diane Relf, published 6th April 2022

In what ways can substantive knowledge manifest itself in the writing of Year 7 students?

Diane Relf was concerned by what felt like an unbridgeable gulf between Year 7’s vocabulary and comprehension, and her aspirations both for their inclusion in history and their later academic success. As a subject leader without the benefit of any history-specific training at the start of her career, she embarked on a journey of intensive reading and classroom experimentation, aided by a history-focused Masters programme. The result was a wholly different way of teaching Year 7, one involving rich knowledge-building across a sequence of tightly related stories. Across two English medieval enquiries, new vocabulary was embedded in the stories, texts and tasks. Relf’s goals were very long-term, but she nonetheless found early impact in pupils’ newly fluent use of vocabulary in their free extended writing, both analytic and creative...

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