Sense of period

Developing a sense of period is about going beyond knowledge of dates and period labels to help students appreciate the kind of world in which the people that they are studying actually lived. Such understanding is obviously supported by knowledge of key events, but it also depends on being able to visualise the period – recognising the kind of conditions in which people lived – and on an appreciation of the routine ideas and assumptions that shaped their thinking.  The resources in this section offer a range of strategies to help teachers plan for the development of this kind of awareness, focusing particularly on the different kinds of sources that can be used to make the ideas and attitudes of people in the past accessible and meaningful in their particular context.  

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  • Knowledge and the Draft NC

    Article

    Silk purse from a sow's ear? Why knowledge matters and why the draft History NC will not improve it Katie Hall and Christine Counsell attempt to construct a Key Stage 3 scheme of work out of the draft National Curriculum for history that was released for consultation in England in...

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  • Enquiries to engage Year 7 in medieval anarchy

    Article

    Wrestling with Stephen and Matilda: planning challenging enquiries to engage Year 7 in medieval anarchy McDougall found learning about Stephen and Matilda fascinating, was sure that her pupils would also and designed an enquiry to engage them in ‘the anarchy' of 1139-1153 AD. Pupils enjoyed exploring ‘the anarchy' and learning...

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  • Transforming historical understanding through scripted drama

    Article

    An article on scripted drama might seem an unlikely choice for an edition devoted to getting students talking. Surely the point about a script is that the words used are chosen and prescribed by others. However, the examples presented here by Helen Snelson, Ruth Lingard and Kate Brennan demonstrate how...

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  • Developing Year 8 students' conceptual thinking about diversity in Victorian society

    Article

    Developing Year 8 students' conceptual thinking about diversity in Victorian society Elizabeth Carr writes here about a new scheme of work she developed to teach students about diversity in Victorian society. When dealing with a concept such as diversity, it can be easy for students to slip into stereotypes based...

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  • Witchcraft - Using fiction with Year 8s

    Article

    Which women were executed for witchcraft? And which pupils cared?  Paula Worth was concerned that her low-attaining set were only going through the motions when tackling causal explanation. Identifying, prioritising and weighing causes seemed an empty routine rather than a fascinating puzzle engaging intellect and imagination. She was also concerned...

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  • Exploring diversity at GCSE

    Article

    Having already reflected on ways of improving their students' understanding of historical diversity at Key Stage 3, Joanne Philpott and Daniel Guiney set themselves the challenge of extending this to post-14 students by means of fieldwork activities at First World War battlefields sites. In addition, they wanted to link the study...

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  • Passive receivers or constructive readers?

    Article

    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 a scheme of work which sought to find out how her students responded...

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  • Should empathy come out of the closet?

    Article

    What is historical empathy and why is it important? What has gone wrong and what had gone right in past attempts to develop students' empathetic understanding? What does progression look like in this area of historical thinking and what are the  preconceptions that can act as barriers to progression? Lee...

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  • Getting Year 7 to vocalise responses to the murder of Thomas Becket

    Article

    Mary Partridge wanted her pupils not only to become more aware of competing and contrasting voices in the past, but to understand  how historians orchestrate those voices. Using Edward Grim's eye-witness account of Thomas Becket's murder, her Year 7 pupils explored nuances in the word ‘shocking' as a way of...

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  • Cunning Plan 143: enquiries about the British empire

    Article

    I wanted to give my Year 8 students ownership of their work on the British Empire by allowing them to suggest our ‘enquiry question'. In order to introduce the Empire, I brought in sugar, spices, bananas, chilli peppers and cotton. I then showed maps demonstrating the Empire at its height....

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  • Seeing the historical world

    Article

    In 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 students operated with an underlying epistemological model that did not reflect the...

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  • The Holocaust in history and history in the curriculum

    Article

    In this powerfully argued article Paul Salmons focuses directly on the distinctive contribution that a historical approach to the study of the Holocaust makes to young people's education. Not only does he question the adequacy of objectives focused on eliciting purely emotional responses; he issues a strong warning that turning...

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  • Polychronicon 141: Adolf Eichmann

    Article

    Almost 60 years ago Adolf Eichmann went on trial for crimes committed against the Jews while he was in the service of the Nazi regime. His capture by the Israeli secret service and his abduction from Argentina triggered a number of journalistic books that portrayed him as a pathological monster...

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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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  • Investigating students' prior understandings of the Holocaust

    Article

    Students make sense of new learning on the basis of their prior understandings: we cannot move our students' thinking on unless we understand what they already know. In this article, Edwards and O'Dowd report how they set out to scope a group of Y ear 8  students' prior learning and...

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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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  • 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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  • Learning about an 800-year-old fight can't be all that bad, can it? Its like what Simon and Kane did yesterday': modern-day parallels in history

    Article

    Deborah Robbins charts a story of her own learning during the PGCE year. She explains how she identified a point of interest in her own practice - the use of modern-day examples. Turning this into a focus for testing her own hypotheses, she theorised from her own lessons to produce...

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  • Getting Year 10 to understand the value of precise factual knowledge

    Article

    Up until the early 1990s, historical knowledge sometimes had rather a bad press. Various developments, in National Curriculum, at GCSE and, importantly, in ordinary teachers’ practice and debate, then led to a much closer integration of what we once called ‘content’ and ‘skills’. Tony McAleavy examined changing perceptions of the...

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  • Challenging stereotypes and avoiding the superficial: a suggested approach to teaching the Holocaust

    Article

    Alison Kitson provides a rationale for a scheme of work for Year 9 (13-14 year-olds). She argues that teachers should analyse the kind of historical learning that is taking place when the Holocaust is studied. Critical of the assumption that learning will take place as a result of exposure, she...

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