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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  • Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

    Article

    Twist and shout? Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

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  • Seeing the historical world

    Article

    Seeing the historical world: exploring how students perceive the relationship between historical interpretationsIn this article, Lindsay Cassedy, Catherine Flaherty and Michael Fordham draw upon their empirical research to assess what understandings their students had of historical interpretations at the end of their compulsory education in history. They found that most...

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  • Nazi perpetrators in Holocaust education

    Article

    The Holocaust is often framed, in textbooks and exam syllabi, from a perpetrator perspective as a narrative of Nazi policy. We are offered a different orientation here. Interrogating and understanding the Holocaust involves understanding why the people who perpetrated the Holocaust did the things that they did. As Wolf Kaiser...

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  • Polychronicon 140: Why did the Cold War End?

    Article

    The end of the Cold War is a controversial subject. Contemporary analysts did not see it coming. Any explanation of its ending which seeks to build up a network of causation will therefore be forced to make arguments based on events whose significance was not  necessarily seen at the time....

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  • Dickens...Hardy...Jarvis?! A novel take on the Industrial Revolution

    Article

    ‘Empathy with edge' was the editorial description given eight years ago to the kind of historical fiction that Dave Martin and Beth Brooke first argued history students should be writing (TH 108). The winning entries from the annual ‘Write Your Own Historical Story Competition' to which their work gave rise...

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  • Learning to read, reading to learn: strategies to move students from 'keen to learn' to 'keen to read'

    Article

    Conventionally, students learn to read before they come to secondary school. As a result, for the majority of our students, reading can be taken for granted. Yet sometimes, as history  teachers, we can find that we assume too much. Although our students are often able to read the words of...

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  • Little Jack Horner and polite revolutionaries: putting the story back into history

    Article

    Three years ago, Séan Lang argued that narrative, which had gone rather out of fashion, needed to be brought back into our teaching. Alf Wilkinson goes further. It is not just narrative which is needed: it is story. The move away from story is not a problem confined uniquely to...

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  • Do we have to read all of this?' Encouraging students to read for understanding

    Article

    What’s the hardest part of history? Heads of Year 9 at options time seem depressingly clear - ‘Don’t do history, there’s too much writing.’ David Hellier and Helen Richards show that at The Green School it is reading that used to be the problem. At every level students found it...

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  • A most horrid malicious bloody flame: using Samuel Pepys to improve Year 8 boys' historical writing

    Article

    Unusually, instead of moving from a narrative to an analytic structure, David Waters moves his pupils from causal analysis to narrative. By the time pupils are ready to produce their storyboard narrative, their thinking about the Great Fire has been shaped and re-shaped not only by structural exercises and argument...

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  • Conceptual awareness through categorising: using ICT to get Year 13 reading

    Article

    When presenting their practical approaches to post-16 teaching in Teaching History 103, both Richard Harris and Rachael Rudham argued that students need to ‘do’ things with information, to process it, play with it, classify it, if they are ever to understand or remember it. They made a case for not...

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  • Meeting the historian through the text

    Article

    Edna Shoham and Neomi Shiloah describe a process by which they taught their 15-year-old students to read historians’ accounts for sub-text, meaning and assumptions. In its emphasis on ‘meeting the historian’, their work overlaps with much of the thinking about teaching pupils about historical ‘interpretations’ as specifically required by the...

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  • Thinking from the inside: je suis le roi

    Article

    Dale Banham and Ian Dawson show how active learning deepens students’ understanding of attitudes and reactions to the Norman Conquest. At the same time they build a bold argument for active learning, including a direct strike at the two most common objections to it. Many teachers still see it as...

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