Extended Reading

Using written sources to answer historical questions involves far more than literal comprehension, but learning to draw valid inferences and to interpret sources in their historical context obviously depends on students’ capacity actually to read and engage with different kinds of written material.  The resources in this section illustrate the range of approaches that teachers have used successfully to capture students’ interest in texts, giving them incentives to read and techniques to help make sense of what they are reading by processing and responding to it in various ways. The articles and plans presented here also demonstrate the value of explicit teaching about reading strategies, helping students to recognise the difference between skimming and scanning, for example, so that they can work out what to do when. Read more

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  • ‘This extract is no good, Miss!’

    Article

    Frustrated that her A-level students were being overly dismissive when asked to judge the convincingness of academic historians’ arguments, Paula Worth drew on previous history-teacher research and theories of history for inspiration. After noting that her students would unjustly reject esteemed historians’ accounts for lack of comprehensiveness, Worth explains here...

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  • Reading? What reading?

    Article

    Discussions with sixth-form students about reading led Carolyn Massey and Paul Wiggin to start a sixth-formreading group. They describe here the series of themed sessions that they planned, and the student discussion and reflections that resulted. Listening to their students discuss their reading led Massey and  Wiggin to reflect on what is meant by ‘reading around’ the subject, and its role in students’ intellectual...

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  • 'I feel if I say this in my essay it’s not going to be as strong’

    Article

    Jim Carroll was concerned that A-level textbooks failed to provide his students with a model of the multi-voicedness that characterises written history. In order to show his students that historians constantly engage in argument as they write, Carroll turned to academic scholarship for models of multi-voiced history. Carroll explains here...

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  • Putting Catlin in his place?

    Article

    Jess Landy’s desire to introduce her pupils to a more complex narrative of the American West led her to the life story and work of a remarkable individual, George Catlin.  In this article she shows how she used this unusual micro-narrative in order to challenge pupils’ ideas not just about the bigger narrative of which it is a part, but about the...

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  • Historical scholarship and feedback

    Article

    In her introduction to this piece, Carolyn Massey describes history teachers as professionals who pride themselves on ‘a sophisticated understanding of change and continuity’. How often, though, do we bemoan change when it comes, as it so often has recently? Massey’s article provides an example of how to embrace change,...

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  • Triumphs Show 164: interpretations at A Level

    Article

    Julia Huber and Katherine Turner found that their A-level students struggled to identify the line of argument in a passage of historical scholarship, an essential prerequisite for answering their coursework question. They devised an activity that helped students to unpick and visually contrast historians’ interpretations of the relative importance of...

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  • Move Me On 162: Reading

    Article

    This issue’s problem: James Connolly is finding it difficult to judge how much or what kind of reading he should expect of his students. James Connolly, an eager and knowledgeable historian, has frequently struggled to pitch things appropriately for students. This applies particularly to his expectations of their reading, but also...

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  • Pipes's punctuation and making complex historical claims

    Article

    Long, unreadable sentences in her students' essays led Rachel Foster to improve her post-16 students' punctuation. Her journey resulted, however, in more than improved punctuation. It led her to theorise what historians are really doing in their ‘signpost sentences'. She found herself showing students how an academic historian anticipates a chunk of argument in a single, well-turned, opening sentence. Foster created an intervention in which students...

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  • The Harkness Method: achieving higher-order thinking with sixth-form

    Article

    Hark the herald tables sing! Achieving higher-order thinking with a chorus of sixth-form pupils On 9 April 1930, a philanthropist called Edward Harkness donated millions of dollars to the Phillips Exeter Academy in the USA. He hoped that his donation could be used to find a new way for students to sit around a table...

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  • Getting medieval (and global) at Key Stage 3

    Article

    Taking new historical research into the classroom: getting medieval (and global) at Key Stage 3 Although history teachers frequently work with academic historical writing, direct face-to-face encounters with academic historians are rare in secondary history classrooms. This article reports a collaboration between an academic historian and a history teacher that...

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  • Exploring the challenges involved in reading and writing historical narrative

    Article

    ‘English king Frederick I won at Arsuf, then took Acre, then they all went home': exploring the challenges involved in reading and writing historical narrative Paula Worth draws on three professional traditions in history education in order to build a lesson sequence on the Crusades for her Year 7s. First,...

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  • Writing Letchworth's war: developing a sense of the local within historical fiction through primary sources

    Article

    Writing Letchworth's war: developing a sense of the local within historical fiction through primary sources Local history, historical fiction, and one of the most significant events of the twentieth century come together in this article as Jon Grant and Dan Townsend suggest a way to enable students to produce better...

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  • Designing an enquiry in a challenging setting

    Article

    Bridging the divide with a question and a kaleidoscope: designing an enquiry in a challenging settingThe Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) is a Cyprus-based organization that works to foster dialogue among history teachers and other educators across the divide in Cyprus. In one of their UN-funded projects, ADHR members...

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  • Triumphs Show 148.2: using pupil dialogue to encourage engagement with sources

    Article

    Using pupil dialogue to encourage sophisticated engagement with source material - even at GCSE! Frustrated by the mechanistic approach that their pupils were using when working with historical sources, Tim Jenner and Paul Nightingale sought to experiment with a method of teaching sources which eschewed practice source questions in favour...

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  • Polychronicon 147: Witchcraft, history and children

    Article

    Witchcraft is serious history. 1612 marks the 400th anniversary of England's biggest peacetime witch trial, that of the Lancashire witches: 20 witches from the Forest of Pendle were imprisoned, ten were hanged in Lancaster, and another in York. As a result of some imaginative commemorative programmes, a number of schools...

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  • Triumphs Show 146: putting an enquiry together

    Article

    Department meetings have a range of purposes, and all teachers will be aware of some of the more tedious tasks that have to be completed at such meetings. The most exciting meetings for us are those where we can sit down as a history department and design a new enquiry....

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  • Debates: Narratives in School History

    Article

    The Question: What matters most in history education: learning narratives, making narratives or understanding how narratives are made?In England, a curriculum review is imminent. Following a recent ‘call for evidence' by the government, further consultation on the future shape of history in schools will follow. The HA is currently consulting...

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  • Witchcraft - Using fiction with Year 8s

    Article

    Which women were executed for witchcraft? And which pupils cared? Low-attaining Year 8 use fiction to tackle three demons: extended reading, diversity and causationPaula Worth was concerned that her lowattaining set were only going through the motions when tackling causal explanation. Identifying, prioritising and weighing causes seemed an empty routine...

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  • Passive receivers or constructive readers?

    Article

    Passive receivers or constructive readers? Pupils' experiences of an encounter with academic history Rachel Foster reports here on research that she conducted into how students engage with academic texts. Unhappy with the usual range of texts that students encounter, often truncated and ‘simplified' in the name of accessibility, she designed...

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  • Historiography from below: how undergraduates remember learning history at school

    Article

    What do our students make of the history that we teach them? As part of an introductory module on historiography, Marcus Collins asked his undergraduate students to analyse the history that they had been taught at school and college using historiographic concepts. The results make for interesting reading. What do...

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