Using enquiry questions

Many history departments use enquiry questions as an essential device for structuring their planning. Enquiries – built on the basis of genuine, worthwhile historical questions that the students are ultimately required to answer – often form the basic units within schemes of work, with each enquiry lasting several lessons/weeks. A good question will make clear not only the substantive focus of the enquiry but also the particular second-order or disciplinary concept that the students are dealing with. This approach allows teachers to plan effectively across key stages, clearly identifying where and when they are focusing on particular concepts, making it easier to plan for progression; ensuring, for example, that a Year 9 enquiry question about similarity and difference across the British Empire builds on and extends the analytical framework used to explore similarity and difference in a Year 8 enquiry about the Mughal Empire.  The materials in this section include detailed examples of individual schemes of work built around different kinds of enquiry questions, along with examples of larger curriculum plans conceived of in terms of a series of well-designed enquiry questions. Read more

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  • '...trying to count the stars': using the story of Bergen-Belsen to teach the Holocaust

    Article

    Maria Osowiecki's search for the right questions to frame her students' study of the Holocaust was driven initially by the proximity of her school to the site of Bergen-Belsen, and the particular interests and concerns of her students as members of British Forces families. But, as this article richly demonstrates,...

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  • 'ICT Starter for 10' a primer for Secondary History Educators

    Article

    This resource is intended to provide a short ‘aide memoire’ to the hard pressed teacher providing a series of ‘launching pads’ for historical enquiry…

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  • A comparative revolution?

    Article

    An argument for in-depth study of the Iranian revolution in a familiar way Although the curriculum changes of 2008 brought with them new GCSE specifications, Jonathan White was disappointed by the dated feel of some ‘Modern World' options, particularly the depth studies on offer. Drawing on his experience of teaching...

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  • Anatomy of enquiry: deconstructing an approach to history curriculum planning

    Article

    It is almost 20 years since Michael Riley first invited Key Stage 3 history teachers to ‘choose and plant’ their enquiry questions. Many members of the history education community have taken up that invitation, making use of overarching enquiry questions to structure students’ learning. But what is meant by enquiry...

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  • Approaches to planning interpretations-focused enquiries.

    Article

    Michael Riley, member of the HA Secondary Committee and History PGCE Tutor at Bath Spa University. In recent years, teaching about different interpretations of history has been one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of Key Stage 3 history. Interpretations-focused enquiries allow pupils to see that argument and debate are...

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  • Assessment after levels

    Article

    Ten years ago, two heads of department in contrasting schools presented a powerfully-argued case for resisting the use of level descriptions within their assessment regimes. Influenced both by research into the nature of children's historical thinking and by principles of assessment for learning, Sally Burnham and Geraint Brown argued that...

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  • Assessment for Learning

    Article

    Owning their learning: using ‘Assessment for Learning' to help students assume responsibility for planning, (some) teaching and evaluationRobin Conway's interest in student led enquiry derived from a concern to encourage his students to take much more responsibility for their own learning. Here he explains how his department gradually learned to entrust...

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  • Cunning Plan 144: promoting independent student enquiry

    Article

    Getting students to generate their own questions can seem like a formidable challenge, even for experienced teachers with extensive subject knowledge developed over years of teaching. Imagine how much more alarming it appeared to a student-teacher being encouraged to take risks by handing more responsibility to the students. Could it...

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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 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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  • Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

    Article

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

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  • Developing transferable knowledge at A-level

    Article

    From a compartmentalised to a complicated past: developing transferable knowledge at A-level Students find it difficult to join up the different things they study into a complex account of the past. Examination specifications do not necessarily help with this because of the way in which history is divided up into...

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  • Emotional response or objective enquiry? Using shared stories and a sense of place

    Article

    In this article, Andrew Wrenn explores some issues that teachers might consider when supporting 14 and 15 year olds in their study of war memorials as historical interpretations. Tony McAleavy has argued that ‘popular' and ‘personal' interpretations and representations are just as worthy of study at Key Stage 3 as...

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  • Emotional response or objective enquiry? Using shared stories and a sense of place in the study of interpretations for GCSE

    Article

    In this article, Andrew Wrenn explores some issues that teachers might consider when supporting 14 and 15 year olds in their study of war memorials as historical interpretations. Tony McAleavy has argued that ‘popular' and ‘personal' interpretations and representations are just as worthy of study at Key Stage 3 as...

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  • Exploring big overviews through local depth

    Article

    Exploring big overviews through local depth Rachel Foster and Kath Goudie's search for a more rigorous and interesting way of teaching Year 7 the Norman Conquest was initially driven by a desire to incorporate local history in a more meaningful way in their Key Stage 3 schemes of work. This...

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  • Getting Year 7 to set their own questions about the Islamic Empire, 600-1600

    Article

    Sometimes particular problems can lead to unexpected solutions. In this case, Sally Burnham decided to solve a problem that she had identified among her Year 12 students by changing the way in which she teaches Year 7. Her Year 12s were finding it difficult to set appropriate questions for their...

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  • Historical scholarship, archaeology and evidence in Year 7

    Article

    The stimulus for this article came from two developmental tasks that Barbara Trapani was set during the course of her initial teacher education programme: planning her first historical enquiry and bringing the work of an historian into the classroom. Trapani chose to tackle the two tasks together, using Susan Whitfield’s...

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  • History`s secret weapon: the enquiry of a disciplined mind.

    Article

    History`s secret weapon: the enquiry of a disciplined mind.As a local authority adviser, Andrew Wrenn's advice has often been sought by history departments, both those seeking to resist ill-conceived and potentially damaging cross-curricular initiatives and those keen to exploit new opportunities for meaningful inter-disciplinary collaboration. Drawing on his knowledge of...

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  • Interpreting Agincourt: KS3 Scheme of Work

    Article

    2015 was a year of anniversaries. As part of our funded commemoration projects surrounding the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, we have commissioned this scheme of work looking at interpretations of the battle and period, particularly aimed at pupils in Key Stage Three. It comes with a complete...

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  • Into the Key Stage 3 history garden

    Article

    Drawing upon a range of practice, Michael Riley analyses the characteristics of a good enquiry question. He explores the importance of careful wording of the question if it is genuinely to help the teacher to integrate areas of content into a purposeful learning journey and without distortion. He then moves...

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