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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  • '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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

    Article

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

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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