Independent Learning

The range of demands inherent in historical thinking and the different assessment objectives that students are required to meet mean that teachers often come to rely on tightly mapped programmes of content coverage and basic templates to help students identify and respond to particular kinds of questions. It is important for teachers to evaluate the effects of these strategies, identifying what they can and cannot achieve, where they may be appropriate and where they may tend to inhibit young people’s learning. Curriculum planning requires careful consideration not just of the kinds of scaffolding that can structure and support students’ next steps, but also of when and how those support structures will be removed. Historical thinking involves the capacity to ask important questions about the past, which calls for curiosity and commitment as well as confidence in determining what kind of information and sources of evidence can be used to answer them. The resources in this section illustrate how different teachers have sought to get the balance right; providing adequate structure while promoting their students’ ultimate independence as historical thinkers.

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  • How history learners can ‘dig school’ under lockdown

    Article

    In March 2020, when Covid-19’s lockdown restrictions saw schools closed to the majority of children, Carenza Lewis quickly began thinking of ways to help both teachers and parents. Drawing on extensive experience of enabling children and young people to learn from practical engagement in archaeology, she came up with a...

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  • Making reading routine

    Article

    Inspired by the growing number of history teachers who have sought to introduce younger pupils to academic historical scholarship in the classroom, Tim Jenner wanted to bring about his own reading revolution at Key Stage 3. But rather than simply develop one-off lessons or enquiries based on scholarship his goal...

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  • Allowing A-level students to choose their own coursework focus

    Article

    Faced with the introduction of the new A-levels in 2015 and with a move to a new school, Eleanor Thomas took the opportunity to embrace yet another challenge: giving her students a complete free choice about the focus of their non-examined  assessment (NEA). This article presents the rationale for her...

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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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  • 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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  • Bringing together students from Bradford and Peshawar

    Article

    Connecting Classrooms: bringing together Bradford and Peshawar, primary and secondary schools, history and English In this article, Dianne Excell shares her experience of a crossphase, collaborative project  funded by the British Council that brought together teachers and pupils from three  schools  n Bradford and five schools in Peshawar, Pakistan. Although...

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  • Developing independent learning with Year 7

    Article

    Jaya Carrier’s decision to focus on developing a more independent  approach to learning in history at Key Stage 3 was prompted by concerns about her A-level students. In seeking to establish secure foundations for students’ own historical research, Carrier first examined the assumptions of her colleagues and her students. She...

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  • The knowledge illusion

    Article

    Focusing on students’ attempts to explain the relative significance of different factors in Hitler’s rise to power, Catherine McCrory explores the vexed question of why students who seem able to express necessary historical knowledge on one occasion cannot effectively reproduce it on another. Drawing on a detailed analysis of what...

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  • An attempt to make Year 9 Masters of Learning

    Article

    ‘Much to learn you still have!' An attempt to make Year 9 Masters of Learning How can history teachers structure learning pathways through historical content in ways that engage and challenge all pupils, that enable them to work at an appropriate pace and that also encourage pupils to self-assess and...

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  • Independent learning in a nutshell

    Article

    What is independent learning? Independent learning is a strategy whereby students are encouraged to develop the skills and dispositions to be able to think and study for themselves.

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  • The 'structured enquiry' is not a contradiction in terms: focused teaching for independent learning

    Article

    Mike Gorman uses the language of the National Curriculum Order to describe and analyse his practice. Yet he throws down a challenge to those who use it uncritically rather than interpreting it to make their own meaning. Like Dale Banham, he sees Key Elements 4 and 5 as virtually omnipresent,...

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