Extended Writing

Although many historians now use the medium of television to advance their arguments and interpretations of history, the construction of written accounts remains fundamental to their craft. It also lies at the heart of current assessment systems, which means that young people similarly need to be able to create effective historical accounts of different kinds. The quality of students’ writing depends on the processes of selection and organisation as well as on effective communication within the appropriate genre, and the materials in this section deal with all three dimensions.  Read more

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  • ‘I need to know…’: creating the conditions that make students want knowledge

    Article

    Chloe Bateman recognised the value to her Key Stage 3 pupils of developing rich subject knowledge, but wanted to find a way of encouraging them to value that knowledge for themselves. In this article she explains how she provided that inspiration by setting her Year 7 class the challenge of...

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  • From road map to thought map: helping students theorise the nature of change

    Article

    Warren Valentine was dissatisfied with his Year 7 students’ accounts of change across the Tudor period. Fixated with Henry VIII’s wives, they failed to reflect on or analyse the bigger picture of the whole Tudor narrative. In order to overcome this problem, his department created a ‘thought-map’ exercise in which...

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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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  • Grammar. Nazis. Historically rigorous approaches to integrating literacy into lessons

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2017 in Manchester. Jim Carroll, Esher College History education stakeholders often report that students find extended writing prohibitively demanding. These stakeholders’ respective proposed solutions, however, have often been pluralistic to the point of contradiction. By systematically drawing on the recommendations...

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  • Curriculum coherence into the new GCSE: best practice for KS3 History

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2017 in Manchester. Zoë Howells and John Blake, Harris Federation The workshop sets out thinking behind designing a truly stretching, appropriate and historically sound curriculum at KS3 which develops students’ knowledge and understanding, as well as ability to write historically...

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  • WWFD? What would Figes do? Using an academic historian as the gold standard in the feedback loop

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2017 in Manchester. Carolyn Massey, Thomas Deacon Academy An interactive workshop exploring the creation of academic, peer review communities in the classroom, involving the deployment of real historians as the gold standard for students’ knowledge, extended writing and peer review...

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  • Helping A-level students make reasoned judgements in their argumentative writing

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2017 in Manchester. David Brown, The Sixth Form College Farnborough and Dani Hilliard, University of Exeter Making reasoned judgements based on ‘valid criteria’ is a key part of assessment across the new A-levels.  However, for A-level students this is an...

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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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  • Effective essay introductions

    Article

    Struck by the dullness of some of her students’ essay introductions, Paula Worth reflected on the fact that she had never focused specifically on introductions. After surveying existing work by history teachers on essay structure in general and introductions in particular, she turns to the work of historians. Drawing on...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 164: Constructing narrative

    Article

    Narrative is shedding its status as the ‘underrated skill’, re-emerging as a requirement of the new GCSE in England. As Counsell has argued, constructing a narrative is ‘no easy option’, however, and asking students to ‘Write an account…’ lacks the comfortable familiarity of ‘Explain why…’ or ‘How far…’. Fortunately, many...

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  • History as a foreign language

    Article

    Disappointed that the use of the ‘PEEL’ writing scaffold had led her Year 11 students to write some rather dreary essays, Claire Simmonds reflected that a lack of specific trainingon historical writing might be to blame. Drawing on genre theory and the work of the history teaching community, Simmonds attempted...

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  • Does the grammatical ‘release the conceptual’?

    Article

    Jim Carroll noticed basic literacy errors in his Year 13s’ writing, but on closer examination decided that these were not best addressed purely as literacy issues. Through an intervention based on clauses, Carroll managed to enable his students to write better, but he did this by teasing out principles of...

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  • Using nominalisation to develop written causal arguments

    Article

    How nominalisation might develop students’ written causal arguments Frustrated that previously taught writing frames seemed to impede his A-level students’ historical arguments, James Edward Carroll theorised that the inadequacies he identified in their writing were as much disciplinary as stylistic. Drawing on two discourses that are often largely isolated from...

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  • Using Google Docs

    Article

    Lucy Moonen set out to explore whether collaborative writing in small groups, facilitated by the use of Google Docs, would help to sustain students’ focus on essay writing as the development of an historical argument. She explains how she set up an essay on the League of Nationals as a...

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  • Pipes's punctuation and making complex historical claims

    Article

    Improve students' historical thinking and written argument 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,...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 159: Writing history essays

    Article

    Until the 1990s, it was unusual for the majority of England's secondary school students to write history essays. The traditional essay was a staple of the old History O Level examinations, but fewer than 20% of pupils did these history exams. In the 1980s, various history teachers became increasingly concerned...

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  • Enabling Year 7 to write essays on Magna Carta

    Article

    The role of secure knowledge in enabling Year 7 to write essays on Magna Carta Setting out to teach Magna Carta to the full attainment range in Year 7, Mark King decided to choose a question that reflected real scholarly debates and also to ensure that pupils held enough knowledge in long-term memory to be able to think about that question meaningfully. As...

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  • What made your essay successful?

    Article

    I ‘T.A.C.K.L.E.D' the essay question! Teaching in Singapore, Tze Kwang Teo cannot conceive of a history teacher unfamiliar with the mnemonic ‘PEE' (or ‘PEEL') used to structure students' essays. Its ubiquity is testimony to its power, reminding students both to explain and to substantiate their claims. Yet, as Foster and Gadd have argued, its neat formulation can restrict and distort historical thinking. Building on their critique, Teo...

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  • Move Me On 159: Writing Frames

    Article

    This issue's problem: Hannah Mitchell would like to wean pupils off the use of writing frames. Hannah Mitchell has embarked on her PGCE training after a year spent working as a Teaching Assistant. Her varied experiences in that role - sometimes working one-to-one with young people, within a targeted intervention programme,...

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  • Triumphs Show 159: teaching paragraph construction

    Article

    My adventures in dancing in the classroom started back in the autumn term. I was working with a group of Year 8 students looking at interpretations of King John and we were selecting and analysing quotations from historians as part of the enquiry question ‘Was King John really so bad?' My students were struggling with...

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