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Making the Civil War fun!

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#1 Vanessa



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Posted 06 March 2004 - 02:32 PM

Help! Can someone please give me some suggestion on how to make my lessons on both the causes of the civil war and life during it fun!!! I fear I may otherwise bore my students to death.

#2 Andrew Field

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 02:44 PM

Hi - welcome to the forum! This is a tricky thing to do and a great question to ask. JohnDClare has a pet hate for this topic.

There is quite a good resource in the Year 8 section (the first one on this page http://www.schoolhis...orksheets.shtml

This offers a very basic overview of why the Civil War started.

The resource that is commonly used is of a graph illustrating how relations between Parliament and the King got worse and worse. I'd imagine a really good way to explore this would be to examine each issue - perhaps via a short summary on a card - and then get the students to produce their own 'living graph' presentation.

You could give students a small pack with the information and then ask them to put together their own presenation. They could add weight to different causes and explain why they think the war broke out.

I'm sure there are many more active ways too though!

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#3 Helen Dayus

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 05:27 PM

I am teaching this at the moment and we have just done a trial of Charles, the kids loved it, we also have been using some activities i borrowed from year 8 English so we have done some story boards.

I am now thinking about how I can do the French Revolution and make that come alive.


#4 mattzb


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Posted 07 March 2004 - 07:19 PM

a colleague uses a balloon to blow-up a bit more with each cause until pops... can obviously use the traditional card sort (one from BECTA?) and base an activity around ICT as well as the norm of physical moving of the info... watching Cromwell is always good fun with the ott soundtrack... perhaps trial Charles I at start of enquiry and then ask a team of "lawyers" to find out why the trial was taking place + one side to defend...

#5 Richard Drew

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 08:00 PM

A scales exercise for 'why parliament won the civil war':

give pupils a card sorting exercise with the strengths and weaknesses of each side on the cards.

they sort them into one pile for reasons the king should win (his strengths and parliament's weaknesses) and another pile for the opposite.

they then put them onto their scales (i use a diagram not real scales) and they weigh up the strengths of each side
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#6 Andrew Field

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 08:49 PM

they then put them onto their scales (i use a diagram not real scales) and they weigh up the strengths of each side

That sounds a great idea for a simple ICT-based lesson too Richard.

Won't be too much trouble to adapt something like this - http://localheroes.d...4a/?backto - for those purposes. Excellent! I'll do that in the near future.

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#7 andrew duff

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Posted 09 March 2004 - 10:07 AM

Hi, ok then, here goes with a project I developed as a micro-teach for my PGCE (and before someone mentions ‘boys and their toys’, we had 38 women and 2 men on the course and they loved it!). I re-fought the battle of Naseby as an interactive session (signalling the end of the divine right of kings to rule). I later used all the materials at the National Army Museum to demonstrate the battle on Cromwell’s 400th birthday (sadly he couldn’t be there).
Ask anyone in your class who’s ‘into’ Warhammer to see you after class (don’t worry if you don’t know what it is, some kids will turn up). Give them a box or two (about Ł4 each from a decent model shop) of Italeri ECW 1/72 miniature figures and tell them you want them back nicely painted – they will enjoy this and think you are the Jesus of Cool. Others in the class use their ICT skills to produce ‘place names’ of the key characters (Fairfax, Cromwell, Ireton, Charles, Rupert, etc) with matching ‘business cards’, downloading appropriate pictures from the web. A model windmill, church and pub would be good if anyone has the skills (from Airfix kits or just bits of foam card as ‘representational’). Put someone in charge of each element. Others are tasked with putting the presentation together (I can send you demo notes).
On the day, line up all the ‘toys’, get ‘volunteers’ to select from the business cards to see whose role they are going to portray. Introduce them to the class – this is Rupert, he comes from Germany, speaks with a lisp etc – a potted history of each key figure. They can check with the place names on the model to see how they fit in. As a (simplified) version of events unfolds they get to move their set of characters on the model in line with ‘what actually happened’. Close with a plenary and thanks to all for their hard work.
This is simpler to organise than it is for me to write about it!
The only problem with this approach is that they keep asking when they can do it again.
Feel free to email me for ‘where to get stuff from’, a copy of my working notes, support, valium etc etc. I also have some photocopy sheets from English Heritage that may be of use. The recent video ‘To kill a King’ (2003) is extremely good and well worth a viewing (technically this isn’t out yet but talk nicely to your local Blockbuster store – I did!)
Best of luck

#8 Russel Tarr

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 01:39 PM

I have produced an interactive game about The Causes of the Civil War which my students always seem to enjoy!

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#9 JohnDClare


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Posted 14 March 2004 - 09:10 AM

The only way to make the Civil War interesting is to dump it altogether in its present form in the National Curriculum and completely rework it. Don't be afraid of doing this - you are accountable only to your governors.

The problem is that, in some vestige of Macaulayism, we have an underlying concept of the Civil Wars as the crucible of modern democracy which - driven by a government-led Citizenship agenda - we feel we need to push down the children's throats. Add to this that causation is an issue Year 9 pupils find hard (cf Causes of WWI, which also goes down like a lead brick), and you have a recipe for disaster.
The 17th century was a time of intense and deep thought - political and religious - which indeed did shape later developments. The problem is that religion and politics are complete turn-offs for our children nowadays. Because we feel that certain issues are 'important' for the children to learn, and because our own knowledge of the period was gained from teachers who too thought that there were 'important' things we had to learn, we have overturned the key principle of teaching: we teach from content, and try to find ways to make it interesting, instead of starting with the pupil, and searching for materials which will interest and stimulate them.

Compare your Yr8 teaching with your Yr7 teaching:
- compare how you teach medieval religion and 17th century religion. I bet you do medieval religion by looking at the medieval idea of hell, studying the life of a monk and a pilgrim, and looking at the death of Becket. Your syllabus here will be replete with pictures, colouring, dramatisation, poetry etc. FUN! And how do you do 17th century religon? I bet you include a table of the differing beliefs of Catholics and Protestants, and talk about Archbishop Laud's reforms as a cause of the civil war.
- compare how you teach the genesis of parliament in the Middle Ages (? 1 lesson - brief overview of what Parliament does today followed by the key stages of growth: Witan, Montfort, Model Parliament, Good Parliament - 500 years in one lesson) with how you do it in Year 8 (? half a term, careful examination of the political, religious, social and economic causes of the Civil Wars, details of Buckingham, Laud, Strafford, foreign policy, The Grand Remonstrance etc.) Need I say more.
- compare how you treat the overthrow of the various medieval monarchs (Edward II, Richard II) with the overthrow of Charles I or James II.
- compare how you treat Magna Carta with the political theories of the Civil Wars.
- In Year 7 we also throw in vast chunks on 'Life in the Middle Ages' - medieval village, medieval town, castles. Simple 'what' stuff that the children can enjoy. All this is there in the 17th century, but for some reason we ignore in in favour of all this boring c**p which the National Curriculum tells us we OUGHT to tell them.

My advice on the Civil War is to:
1. Go back to first principles, and select content and method to interest the pupils, not feel obliged to ram the pupils into the content straitjacket.
2. Get through it more in terms of simplistic black and white, and only slightly more sophisticatedly to how you dealt with similar issues in Year 7.
3. Get it over with in a couple of lessons, and move on to something more interesting (the Slave Trade) as soon as possible.

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