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Teaching Historical Skills to Year 7s

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#16 HollyS


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Posted 26 September 2004 - 06:09 PM

We have a crossover KS2/3 task that is done by our feeder schools in the summer term of Y6. All pupils produce a Museum of their choice, design the order of the exhibits and explain their choice of sources and exhibits. This gives an idea of the topics and types of things they have done in KS2 and allows us to see what type of literacy and organisational skills they have when they begin Y7.

#17 Richard Drew

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 07:08 PM

I am not a fan of 'what is history' type of units, nor am i a fan of 'teaching pupils historical skills'.

The main reasons for this are twofold:

~ Firstly it so lacking in genuine context. Rather like the GCSE questions that ask pupils how useful a source is but never ask them to use the source (rather pointless really!!), pupils will develop their historical skills so much better if they are being developed and tested in a fully relevant context.

~ Secondly you are immediately faced with the problem that some pupils will rise to the challenge and develop the kind of historical skills you are hoping to reach at the end of Y9 immediately, while others never will. The first group of pupils have nowhere to go, and the second group are instantly put off the subject in my experience.

To my mind the solution is another approach, alluded to by A Finemess.

In each year at KS3 we teach 6 enquiries, and each enquiry is based around a topic AND an historical skill. The topics are chosen to be engaging and significant, and the skills are revisited at least once per year, each time the complexity of the skill is developed, building on the prior learning. As such, a coherent approach that ENSURES progression is achieved.

For example the skill of interpretations:

Y7: Has history judged King John fairly?

~ pupils study the events of the reigns of Henry II, Richard and John
~ they develop their interpretations skills, being able to present two sides to a person/event
~ and they start to be able to explain why interpretations are reached - the impact of contemporary records etc

Y8: Why do people disagree about whether Cromwell was a hero or a villain?
~ pupils study the events of Cromwell and the Commonwealth
~ they develop their interpretations skills further, being able to present two sides to a person/event & being able to show that the same facts can be interpretated as positive or negative
~ and they are building on their ability to explain why interpretations are reached - the differing views of Cromwell within the people of the Commonwealth & a basic introduction to historiography (Victorian and modern interps of Cromwell being affected by the values of the era)

Y9: Why to historians disagree about whether the Industrial Revolution made Britain 'Great'?
~ pupils study the events of the Industrial Revolution
~ they develop their interpretations skills further, being able to see the complexity of events as positive and negative in different ways for different people and at different times
~ and they are further improving their ability to explain why interpretations are reached - questioning the reliability of historians, and developing explanations for their differing views: evidence studied, personal values, audience, time period studied, perspecitve studied etc

each time pupils start with the base of understanding/skill they have previously gained and develop it further, enbsuring progression and the reinforcement of prior skills

We take the same approach to source evaluation, significance, cause/ consequence etc etc

Pupils learn these skills in a practical and relevant context, and progress them in a structured manner. 99% of the teaching of historical skills here takes place in the planning.
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